Day 3: Science Communication Day

 Today was a bit of a different day for everyone aboard James Cook. Eleven scientists were treated to a day on the Isle of Barra, to make way for a school group from Sgoil Lionacleit and a BBC team from 'The One Show'. It was nice for the scientists to talk about their research and show off their toys.

The 'Boy James' arrived at the ship after breakfast, and with some to-ing and fro-ing on the rope ladder the transfer was made.
Magnus arriving
Safety briefing from Captain Bill

From Sgoil Lionacleit on the Hebridean isle of Benbecula, four pupils, Anna, Angharad, Erin and Magnus, came onboard to experience life on a research ship, and to see the corals that are on their own doorstep. After a tour of the ship, including the ships massive food store (so many baked beans!), they each had a go in the captains chair, both teachers and pupils! It was then ROV time, with Captain Bill and the ROV pilot in close communication to ensure both the ship and ROV were in the right position. Along with the remaining scientists, the school group and BBC gathered round the high definition screens in the plot, and watched as we hit bottom and then the bright white reefs appeared out of the gloom. Everyone was excited about their first glance of the reefs, and surprised by how many animals were milling around the coral polyps.We saw an edible crab, worms, sea pens, and a variety of fish species, including the elusive catshark!
In the Captains seat!
Controlling the ROV cameras
The ROV went on a brief tour of the reef, finding more and more cauliflower-shaped Lophelia colonies, before the children got their own go at controlling the ROVs cameras - more than most of the scientists get to do! We will hear more about the experience of the school group, and their favourite aspects of the ship when they write their own blog later on this week.

The whole day was a fantastic opportunity for us to talk about what we do, and show how important these reefs are and why they need to be protected and looked after. Everyone was exhausted after their full-on day, so after waving off the visitors and welcoming back returning scientists, the night shift retired. The day shift were still on ROV duty, and the robot was back in the water and back to the reefs in search of corals!
School group with Laura
Learning about oxygen
Talking to the ROV pilot
The Boy James
Ocean Acidification in action
In the ROV control box
Seeing our corals
Scientists on Barra