15 June, 1998
The last two days have become one science wise due to weather and ice conditions. Monday was a pretty happening day with lots of work being done on and off the ice. We again did a station with the ROV and that whole process is becoming more dialed in each time we go through it. Tuesday was a transit day, trying to get back to the polynya off the NW edge of Hanna Shoal.
On Monday we accessed the ice using the helicopter and came back aboard using the landing craft. The helicopter developed some sort of fuel problem and the gauges indicated that the tank used to feed fuel to the motors was not filling properly. The AVDET crew got to work on it but the decision was made to send the ships landing craft across the open water to collect the away group. While on the ice we collected samples and drilled holes for the ROV stakes. The underwater ROV footage showed large strands of ice algae hanging down from the bottom surface of the ice. It was our most abundant find of ice algae so far and some areas of the under surface resembled an inverted forest. Everybody is amazed to see this much algal growth while the ice is still over a meter thick. There also appears to be no difference in the amount growing under ice covered by snow and ice covered by melt ponds.
The bottom had many brittle stars and amphipod mounds but not quite the same density of cover as a couple stations back. There were many small and large strands of algae lying on the bottom and it even appeared to be concentrated around the wormholes. It is thought that this will become a major food source for a lot of the bottom dwellers and from what we see so far, the table is set for a major feed!
We steamed up this way to get in a partial station and allow the engineers 12 hours of power plant dead time in order to perform maintenance and repairs on the propeller shafts. Given the beating the screws and shafts take on any ordinary day of crunching ice it's a small wonder that periodic repairs are necessary.
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