Sample, sample, sample…..

By Carin Ashjian for The Arctic Winter Cruise 2011

There is a sense of anticipation in the air. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we will be observing it, even though we are at sea in the Arctic. As luck would have it, we have a couple of long transits between stations to accomplish tonight and tomorrow so everyone will have a chance to relax a little and catch up on samples, record keeping, and data analysis, and watch football.

We just finished sampling along the “DBO line”. This is a line of stations located in the Chukchi Sea just to the south of Barrow, AK. An international group of scientists has been sampling across this line of stations when in the region with an oceanographic ship. The Healy has already sampled across the DBO line twice this year. Other ships and projects, including some of my work near Barrow, also have sampled the line. Together, by sharing the data, the scientific community gets an understanding of temporal changes in this sea through the summer and fall seasons. The November 22-23 sampling of the DBO line is the latest such sampling in any year and the only sampling to occur during early winter. We are eager to compare what we found with the data from the earlier sampling.

A map showing where we have sampled so far. All of these stations have been covered with sea ice when we sampled them.


Sampling has been easy in the relative calm of the sea ice. Here the wind does not create large waves and swell because the rigid cap of sea ice extending over the ocean surface prevents this. As we start to move further south, we will leave the protection of the sea ice and enter open water that can be a much rougher place to work. We expect to leave the ice sometime tomorrow or Friday.

Donna (left), Celia (middle), and Bob (right) picking krill out of a fresh sample collected with a plankton net. The krill are large enough to be seen without a microscope and can be scooped up out of the sample with a spoon. These krill will be used in a feeding experiment to see how much and what type of prey (phytoplankton, microzooplankton) they are eating.
Flat Stanley the Polar Bear oversees the sampling for nutrients. Each bottle will be filled with seawater collected by the Niskin bottles on the rosette at a particular depth.











David Leech filters water from a syringe into the nutrient sample bottles while Flat Stanley Bear oversees the work. The electric caulking gun is used to push the syringe.


Things are going well! We’re collecting interesting and exciting data and samples with relative ease, particularly considering the conditions. Everyone is working hard to make sure that this cruise succeeds.

The view from the bridge in the middle of the day. The ice is cracked because Healy is moving forward.
Yesterday we had a “visit” from land, a helicopter from the North Slope Borough Search and Rescue in Barrow came to pick up a crewmember who needed to get off of the ship.


By Carin Ashjian for The Arctic Winter Cruise 2011, WHOIExpeditions Thursday November 24th, 2011

Read the Cruise Overview.
Go to the article list on the FS project page.
See WHOI’s audio slideshow highlighting the cruise.