Friday, August 3, 2007

And I’m back!

Sixteen days at sea, one circumnavigation of the entire island of Iceland, 93 sampling stations, and thousands upon thousands of fish and shrimp later, I returned to Reykjavík considerably saltier (and probably fishier, too) than when we left. I’m not quite an Icelandic sailor yet, but I did get to know a whole crew’s worth of real Icelandic sailors and scientists, learned to identify at least thirteen different species in both Icelandic and English, and saw in pretty close detail how the survey works.

Here's where we went - you can see that we spent most of the time in the north, which was where we took most of the sampling stations, but we had to finish going all the way around the island to get back to Reykjavik in the end.

Also had my first chance to have lots of up-close and personal encounters with (lots and lots of) cod, so for those who have been asking, I did my best to get a good picture (this one also with some basic labels that I added in case you're curious about fish biology):

A research ship like this is obviously very different from a commercial fishing vessel, but the general fishing methods are not so different and much of the crew worked on commercial boats before coming to work for MRI – fishing for everything from cod and haddock in Norway and Sweden to bluefin tuna on Japanese vessels in the North Atlantic. Most of them have traveled The science crew also had a wide range of experience, including working for the groundfish surveys in the fall and spring, and completely different kinds of work too, including one woman who had gone on multiple five-week trips on Japanese tuna fishing vessels as the only Icelander and the only woman and with only one crew member who even knew enough English to communicate with her. Everyone was incredibly nice to me, even the people on the crew who I didn’t talk with very much (I was the only person among the twenty on board who didn’t speak Icelandic). Someone always seemed to be making sure that I was eating enough (entirely unnecessary, since there was an incredible amount of food available all the time) and checking that I wasn’t feeling seasick (I was mildly seasick, but not too bad, as the ship was pretty steady and I made continual use of scopalimine patches).

This is not a very good picture of me, but it's my proof that yes I was there, and wearing the highly flattering foul weather gear and protective hat every time I went up on deck while helping with a sampling station.

Otherwise, since the survey was mostly the same routine each day, rather than writing about in chronological order here, I’ll divide my tales of the survey into a couple of different posts that will appear here over the next few days. Meanwhile, on to my next series of adventures exploring northern Iceland with Adam.

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