Funny story. Remember that earlier post about the high tech field equipment required to conduct research in these deep fjord habitats? Ha. Right.
So as this project heads into its last year key links we are still missing are: 1) how long it takes kelp to degrade in our deep habitat and 2) what animals are interested to this food influx? We are looking for a kelp signal in stable isotopes of organisms from these habitats. But, one mad plan to solve this was to deploy kelp into the 400 m deep basin on a surface float and see what happens. Of course this idea came from the WP1 subtidal divers... Hey! Sometimes you can do amazing science with a rope and a float.
Our beloved KELPEX postdoc (and incidentally the author of these blogs) has a history of coming up with a creative, low-cost solution to a field problem. So, during a ski trip with her mother in March, she convinced her to make a quick detour to the Sommarøy field station to carry out this mad plan.
Meet Jane Filbee, latest KELPEX 'Volunteer'
So winter kelp collection... check, unspool and unkink a km of line across the hotel lobby, check... go out in 20 knots and drop (sorry deploy) 12 bags of kelp on 2 floats to 350 m depth... yep.
Seems simple but 400 m of line is ridiculously long... and there was a serious chance that the floats would be lost, dragged in current, or cut by passing ships. Expectations for retrieval were low.
BUT it worked!! One month later, the floats were still in place. With a bit of help from a local fisherman we retrieved the kelp!
It was down for a month, so still early days in terms of fauna response, but the animals that came up from 350 m deep on a mesh bag with kelp, are evidence that they are interested in this food source!