As soon as we left Cape Town the manta trawl and plankton net were in the water and since then we’ve been doing daily samples. The first couple of days were really about learning the best methods. This included learning knots for trawl lines, setting up a GoPro mount on the bow of the ship and coordinating everyone involved. Now, it’s more of a routine and sampling is much more efficient, especially as the voyage crew has been so helpful.
We’ve both seen daily variation in our samples. From wire casing to plastic fibers, the manta trawl has collected a wide range of plastics. Sometimes, these are hardly noticeable due to the vast number of larval fish or jellyfish in the sample. As for the plankton net, there was a wide range of unexpected finds. Many were a beautifully deep blue with a white underside to camouflage themselves in the open ocean, such as juvenile squid, copepods and shrimp. We even risked our lives to handle Portuguese-Man-Of-War and a multitude of unknown jellyfish.
We’ve also done a few lectures to share our knowledge with the rest of the voyage crew! This included an introduction to our projects, the basics of plankton and the issues of plastic pollution and research. There are more to come, including a drawing workshop, an introduction to ocean surface water circulation and ocean life on other planets.
We hope it all continues to run smoothly!