dinsdag 2 juli 2013

Dinner with a whale

29 June 2013

Ben working in the temperature room© Bas Bolman
Weekends at Ny-Ålesund start at a slower pace than a regular day of the week. Instead of breakfast at 7:30 AM, brunch is served at 10.00 AM. This does not mean that less work was done on Saturday. Ben and Ariadna worked in the temperature room to set up the aquarium system, fill the aquariums with sediment and sea water, and get the aeration started. With a set temperature of 5ºC in the room they were dressed as going on an outdoor hike, including hats to stay warm. The temperature room is one of the facilities in the Kings Bay Marine Laboratory, the northernmost laboratory in the world.

Ariadna and Martine
taking sediment samples

© Bas Bolman
During low tide at noon Ariadna and Martine walked over to the shore behind the station to collect sediment samples near an old waste dump from the station. This area is just outside the station border meaning that a flare gun was needed to scare of a potentially curious polar bear. Bas and Ruben functioned as guards while simultaneously enjoying the scenery and sun reflecting in the bay.

Later that afternoon a few simple tests were conducted in the lab to demonstrate the influence of ice on the behaviour of oil and efficacy of dispersants combatting oil in sea water. With sunflower oil and detergent as example of a dispersant clear differences were seen, illustrating the need for an oil spill response plan specifically for icy conditions.

Saturday night dinner is special in Ny-Ålesund. Everybody dresses up and working cloths are hardly spotted in the dining area. Candles are placed on the table and we brought bottles of wine to share. While enjoying the wonderful food and wine suddenly loud cheers were heard and everybody moved to the windows. A Humpback whale was spotted in Kongsfjorden right beside a small zodiac from the station with some bird researchers in it having the time of their lives. Humpback whales are not often seen in Kongsfjorden making it a special present during our Saturday night dinner. The Humpback whale circled the boat for more than half an hour and seemed to be very curious. People, including our camera crew, left their desert to have a closer look at the humpback whale from the harbour. As if this was not enough, half an hour later an Arctic fox was spotted running over the tundra next to the restaurant. A perfect way to end our Saturday!

Sunset at the harbour of Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

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