Saturday, June 12, 2010
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Pilot whales (Globicephala sp)
Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus)
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
Beaked whale (Ziphius sp)
Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Short-beaked Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Short-Finned Pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris)
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The main science laboratory is now strangely quiet and there is only one meal shift as only a few people remain on board for the transit back to Italy.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Our engineering coordinator proclaimed the end of the Sirena 10 sea trial. The visual observers came down from the flying bridge and the arrays were brought onboard. The Captain kicked up the speed and with haste (it’s all relative) we head to Malaga, Spain.
The third phase of the cruise would not have been a success without the contributions of our science and ship crews. Most of the science crew will depart in Spain and only a few Italian residents will continue on the return transit to La Spezia. To those that depart us, fair winds and following seas.
Stay tuned on the blog because over the next few days we will summarize the accomplishments of the trial. But until then, for the next few hours, we will enjoy seeing the sites of historic Malaga and eating paella on the sandy beaches.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Working long hours on data processing may not sound as much fun as whale watching on the flying bridge, but it is has its rewards. Even some unusual ones, such as a rare sighting of Lambert, the elusive isobath whale, inhabiting a bathymetric map of an area we are surveying. We are still working on a taxonomic classification for this lone whale. Meanwhile, try to see if you can find Lambert hidden in the isobaths (contour lines) in the map below.
Hint: it seems to be swimming away from the coastline and prefers deeper waters! And if you're wondering, his name comes from the cartographic projection which best displays his looks.
Monday, June 7, 2010
As light propagates through the water column, it is quickly attenuated (reduced), but not all the colours are affected at the same rate (red light for instance is attenuated more rapidly, the remaining blue/green providing the ocean with its characteristic colour). The hyperspectral radiometer measures these variations, providing light spectrum measurements as a function of depth. It is deployed by hand and free-falls to a maximum of 100m.
Figures. Hyperspectral radiometer and some typical measurements of light spectra at the surface (left) and at 10 metre depth (right). Note how the red component of light (beyond 600nm) is attenuated leaving only the blue/green component.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
When we positioned the mooring, the bridge team precisely recorded the positions where the buoys were placed. Today, the ship’s captain navigated the vessel over each position, at which point, the scientific engineering team sent an acoustic signal to the acoustic release on the mooring. The acoustic release (thankfully) “responded” back with a signal that it “heard” the release command and its hook came undone. The large yellow and orange buoys then propelled the hydrophone to the surface, sending signals to the ship at each 100 meters on it ascent. Once the floats surfaced, the ship was positioned alongside, and the ship’s sailors recovered the buoys with the bow crane.
A smooth, successful operation - thanks to all the crew!
Friday, June 4, 2010
Characterisation of the marine mammal habitat plays an important role in the understanding and interpretation of the visual and acoustic observations. The instruments used during Sirena 10 allow us to measure not only the traditional oceanographic parameters such as pressure, temperature and salinity, but also how the water column affects the propagation of light. Additional parameters such as oxygen and chlorophyll concentration further extend our knowledge of the marine environment.
Three main systems are used for these measurements. Today we talk of the CTD.
The CTD consists of a metal frame with multiple sensors attached to its struts. It is lowered into the water on a cable which also allows the electrical transmission of the data to the laboratory in real-time. In addition to the sensors, bottles are used to collect water samples for later chlorophyll analysis. During Sirena10, profiles were collected down to 1500 metre depth (see the picture for a typical profile). Timing of the casts coincides with satellite overflights, allowing offline comparison of remotely measured surface temperature and chlorophyll concentration.
The GIS computer combines all information on a map, showing where the ship is, was, and what sightings were made. Acoustic sightings are placed on the ship track, because the location of the animal is not precisely known, with different colours and sizes representing the various species and loudness. The visual sightings include bearing and distance and can therefore be placed at the appropriate locations relative to the ship's position at the time of the sighting. This information is also color-coded per species.
The combined information is primarily useful for post-cruise evaluation.
During Sirena10, the map is not shown to everyone, to make sure that visual results will not influence acousticians' perceptions of the received audio.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
A member of the MMRM project team designed software specifically for use on the Sirena cruises to record the sighting data. In seconds, the data recorder enters the species type, animal behavior, number of animals, aspect, presence of juveniles, distance, and bearing to the animal. In addition, the ship position is automatically entered and then the software calculates the location of the animals. The software makes it much easier to accurately record data – much better than the days of scribbling with pen and paper!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
С Днем Рождения
palju õnne sünnipäevaks
La multi ani
No matter what language you say it in (and all those listed are spoken by someone onboard), a birthday is something to commemorate! A few fortunate crew members celebrated their 47th, 30th, and 23rd birthdays on board with an extra torta from the chef or extra special Haribo candies.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Prior to deployment, a sonobuoy is programmed with specific settings such as the depth to which the hydrophone will lower, the time it will transmit data, and the radio frequency channel that it will transmit data (no need to screen the channels to avoid Italian cab drivers out here!).
In the picture you see a scientific crew member choosing these settings. Once the canister is in the water, an orange float inflates and remains on the surface. The actual hydrophone drops down to the depth that was preprogrammed. At depth, the hydrophone receives all the sounds in its vicinity. These sounds are transmitted electronically to the surface and then sent back to the ship. On the ship, we have receivers which gather the data and transfer it into visual images on the computer screen in the laboratory.
The data that we collect with these buoys focuses on the lower frequency sounds in the water, allowing us to collect more information about different species of whales, as well as ships and other ambient sounds.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
The entire array is actually made up of several pieces. First, the tow cable is firmly attached to a winch on the ship (orange in the attached picture). 220m of tow cable trail behind the ship and attach to the actual array – a 15m long piece of tubing, filled with oil in which two microphones (called hydrophones) are spaced 8m apart. The sounds are transferred from the hydrophones as electrical signals through wiring in the oil filled tubing, up the tow cable, through a deck cable and into the laboratory computer. The submerged array stays at about 18m deep in the water when the ship is traveling about 5 knots.
While we continue to test other pieces of equipment (smaller, different features, etc), this array continues to be the Cavallo vincente non si cambia
Friday, May 28, 2010
Grab your popcorn and enjoy the movie!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Fuel in our tanks and food in our refrigerator, our short stay concluded. We are now transiting out to the starting point of our third and final phase – hoping for calm winds and following seas.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
That was very true today as 10 whales surrounded the Alliance. For many of us, it was the first time seeing this species, so the cameras were all clicking to capture a photo. The acousticians enjoyed it just as much; the Main Science Laboratory was filled with the sounds of the Pseudorca and the computer screens were lit with color from their clicks and whistles.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Loudness: 1 – 2 – 3
Duration: 1 - 2 - 3
In addition, these trained scientists listen to some of the sounds on headphones and then select the loudness of each sound (based on what they hear or on how faint or bright the images are on the screen) and for how long these sounds last.
According to one scientist, “I like to close my eyes and listen to the sounds and imagine who or what is making them. I create a 3D picture of the underwater environment in my head.”
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In the picture, the lines represent the clicks of the Cuvier’s beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris. The features of their clicks include a center frequency around 40 kHz and spacing about 0.4 s apart. The distinguishing trait is that the pair of lines always appears close together, one represents the directly emitted click from the animal and a second one that is simply the reflection of the click from the surface of the sea. Thus, it is possible for the scientist to look at this picture and identify it as a signature of the Ziphius.
Friday, May 21, 2010
In some lucky situations, the animals travel with us for many miles, as happened with a group of common dolphins that approached the ship in the late afternoon and remained with us after sunset. From the hydrophones, we appreciated how really close they were by their strong echolocation clicks, bursts and whistles. It was not a surprise when, at midnight, we looked outside and under a strong light from the ship that shone into the water, we discovered that the dolphins were still there …maybe the same dolphins we saw before.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Using headphones connected to the acoustic instrumentations, trained listeners hear the ocean’s sounds, both natural and man-made. The frequency and intensity of the mammal vocalizations can be very different between species, allowing a listener to distinguish which particular species is making the noise. However, some species, like common dolphins and striped dolphins, produce similar kinds of sounds with similar features which are difficult to distinguish.
Click on the link below (from one of our collaborators) to listen to the sounds of whales and dolphins. A connectivity issue prevents the sounds from being uploaded here.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Common dolphins (seen here)
Short-finned pilot whales
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
After two weeks at sea, the NRV Alliance pulled into Lisbon for a crew change and to fill up with provisions. 36 hours ashore was not enough time to enjoy all the wonderful sights, smells, and experiences that this beautiful city had to offer. The scientific and ship crews made the most of their time ashore:
- visiting the many historical sites, such as the Tower of Belem,
- eating typical Portuguese cuisine, like salted cod fish,
- experiencing typical music and food at a Fado restaurant,
- stretching their wobbly sea legs along the waterfront bike/running path,
relaxing and surfing on the beaches of Cascais,
- shopping the bargains at the super mall,
- and for those that didn’t see enough sea life in the first phase, visiting one of the world’s largest and best Aquarium.
A truly memorable time; however, the sea trial continues. The new crew additions for Phase 2 (and those remaining from Phase 1) have already commenced our visual and acoustic survey in a new area, expectantly searching for marine mammals.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Sirena Cruises are very people-power-intensive efforts because of the around the clock acoustic monitoring and visual watch teams which rotate every 2 hours. We have always been blessed with excellent volunteers who are very experienced and capable to make up the difference from the staff members from the Centre. As we approach the end of our first phase and the Port of Lisbon for a short Port Call, we will sadly be saying goodbye to some of our SIRENA Staff and gladly saying hello to their replacements. We thank our Phase One personnel that are leaving us and wish them fair winds and following seas as they journey home.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The most important piece of equipment for doing just that is the foosball table, or calcetto, in Italian. The significance of this equipment was emphasized during the ship’s recent repair period. A shipyard worker converted the game table into a sawhorse for cutting wood. The First Officer urgently informed the worker that an accidental cut of the coveted table would likely result in many angry crewmembers. The worker seemed confused, but replaced the table with a proper sawhorse, and the ever important foosball table was saved from potential harm.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Every day it is the same blue view
Ocean down below and sky above
but today was a gift of color
As the sun rose three arches of beauty framed the blows of the whales.
As the day started, the day ended
An arc of brilliant color
bid us Boa Noit
Monday, May 10, 2010
While most of the work that we do and the equipment that we use stays on the ship, such as our visual crew with their Big Eyes and the acoustic crew with their arrays, we also place long term acoustic monitors in the ocean to collect data. On SIRENA 10 we have 6 buoys that we will moor on the ocean bottom in water depths down to 1200 meters. Of the 6 buoys, there are 4 different kinds. Four of them are commercial “click” detectors and two of them were built by two of our university partners, just for this work. These detectors will listen and record marine mammal clicks during the four week period that we are on this cruise, although they can actually record for much longer. Before leaving our survey area to return home, we will go back to each buoy location and “call” out with a special transceiver (like an underwater garage door opener) that will signal a special release mechanism on the weighted anchor section to let go. The floats then bring the buoy and its valuable data back to the surface for us to recover and analyze upon our return to the Centre.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The galley and its crew on the Alliance are legendary. The Italian cooks prepare wonderful fresh focaccia in the morning and fantastic Italian meals to suit everyone’s tastes for the other two meals of the day. The stewards always greet us warmly with a big smile and ensure we want for nothing, including translations of the menu. One would think that is more than enough to keep the entire crew happy, and it really is…
… but the cooks go one step further on Thursdays and Sundays – Torta (Cake) Days. At 15:00 on these days, the laboratory empties as everyone migrates to the mess room for a special treat. Fruit torta, more traditional cake with frosting, or cannoli, everyone knows that a special treat awaits them on CAKE DAY!!!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
We hope the stormy seas are behind us and sun is on the horizon. It looks like the next 3 to 4 days in a row will be good weather.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Sea mounts are also known to be migratory areas for whales. Among today’s sightings, the visual team reported groups of short-finned Pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), an undetermined specie of whale and some common Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). The acoustic team heard vocalizations of Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and numerous dolphins.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
This 100m long ship offers everything that our group of 48 could need. Most people are rocked to sleep at night in individual cabins (a few do share) and some even wake to the morning light through port holes. Breakfast, and all other delicious Italian meals and of course cappuccino, are served from the full service galley The science crew then “commutes” upstairs to work in the laboratory and deck spaces. After work, free time is enjoyed working out in the gymnasium, wave-watching on deck, or relaxing in the lounge which is complete with books, movies, and occasionally a satellite tv signal. Life is just like at home – with a shorter commute!