So... did the cruise end?
Yes! And it ended with 2 long days working through the night... which wore out your trusty blogger. So apologies for the late update.
Final days of WP3 cruise were spent collecting samples of benthic macrofauna (animals that are large enough to see) and meiofauna and microfauna (animals too small to see) from our 'kelp' and 'no kelp' areas. We used a grab and a box core, both of which we lowered from the boat on a wire until it hit the seafloor, triggering a release that trapped a known size of soft sediment.
On deck we sieved the grab sample and took 1 cm slices of the core sample to look at how the community changes with sediment depth. It can sometimes take 30 minutes to gently break down the clay and get it to run through the sieve. We also could see tiny fragments in kelp in all the grabs from the kelp area. It will be interesting to see if this material is buried or consumed by the fauna we collect.
Also we were treated to some extreme changes in weather on the last few days. One moment it is was a hail storm and the next clear and calm seas.
The last night the captain took us on a spectacular tour of the northern coast. The moon at 2 AM was breathtaking.
We docked in Tromsø, unloaded, packed and shipped all our samples and finished with a well-deserved dinner. It will be exciting to see how the data all comes together in the next 2 years!