vrijdag 17 oktober 2014

The beginning of the end

Time passes way too quick still it feels like months ago since we arrived. Besides lots of fun activities there is the reality of doing experiments. Due to some unfortunate circumstances the chemicals that we send way in advance to Ny-Alesund still did not arrive. These chemicals are needed to disinfect and clean the waste water in order to remove all exotic species and harmful chemicals before we can dispose it. After a lot of troubles, we finally got the message that coming Monday the activated carbon will arrive, at least 1 out of the 2. So for now we have one challenge less!

Crossing a river towards the glacier © Noël Diepens

During the weekend, Noël made a nice cabin trip up to Daerten. The original plan to leave in the light on Friday did not work out so we walked with our heavy backpacks in the moonlight over the glacier and mountain ridge to the cabin.  The next day we hiked up to an ice cave in a glacier and explored the inside. Sunday, 45km, a herd of reindeers, a polar fox, superb views further, we arrive tired and hungry back to Ny-Alesund. In the meanwhile, Ariadna went for a good hike together with a German PhD, spend the evening dancing in the bar, and spotted a real Russian rocket burning in the sky. Sunday evening is the time to go for a round or two in the sauna, which is perfect after all these activities. Normally, we would first take a swim in the fjord, but this time there was fresh snow to cool down in. After this good weekend, it was time to take out the first set of animals, 17 aquaria in total. Monday morning we put on some good working music and got our hands (and the rest of the surrounding) dirty with mud. The animals were placed in clean water to clear the gut content and the next two days we spend on dissecting and preparing the samples for storage at -80°C. The coming week, we will take out 2 more batches and just before we leave the last one. All with all, we will have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves in the marine lab. As we are the only ones working there we have all the space (and freedom to play music) we need.

Beautiful view of the full moon from Ny-Ålesund shore © Noël Diepens

Dark days are quickly approaching us with only 5 hours of light these days. Soon all light will be gone. As the darkness is increasing, temperatures are decreasing. Although the outside temperatures are still below -15°C it can feel like -23°C because of the wind chill factor. The good thing about these cold days is that there is often a clear sky, so a great opportunity to see beautiful sun rise/set, full moon, and northern lights. Although we saw already some northern lights they were not so strong here. Ny-Alesund is just outside the range in which the northern lights are best seen.

 Hard working days at Kings Bay marine laboratory © Thomas Dupeyron

We keep up the good mood, enjoying the scenery every day, and be creative to solve all our challenges!

Warm and sunny greetings,

Ariadna and Noël

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