Day 7: Bye bye Mingulay

Today was the last day at the Mingulay Reef Complex for the Changing Oceans Expedition. For the next few weeks, the sight of land will be a distant memory, it will be nothing but sea! So, week one, where to start......

In many ways it seems like we have been at sea for months, we have gone from 21 scientists who see each other annually at meetings, to one big geeky family! In the 29 days we are at sea, we have a huge amount to achieve, and so, like many research expeditions, are running 24 hour operations. This means the scientists are split in two shifts; the 'day shift' who work from midday to midnight, and then hand over to the 10 bleary-eyed scientists on the 'night-shift' (or A-team, as we like to call ourselves!). The handover period every 12 hours is always exciting; 10 tired but happy scientists try to update 10 hyper-caffeinated, recently woken scientists!

Lots of exciting science has been underway in the past week - equipment was tested and deployed. The ROV has been in the water daily, collecting corals, microbial samples and invertebrates, as well as deploying the Eddy lander (more about this in tomorrow's blog) and surveying the reef.

In the chemistry lab, Helen has been busy processing her water samples and seeing how much carbon is in the water, while Geoff and Anne's hyper sterile area has made the room smell interesting! Seb and I have been measuring coral respiration, and Penny has been taking coral samples to look at their proteins. Next door in the cold room (7 °C, brrrr!), Georgios and John have sponges in chambers, Cova is watching the corals feed and Sarah is starting her coral experiment. There will be much more about all these activities in upcoming blogs.

Out on deck, a succession of equipment has been attached to various winches and deployed into the ocean, with lots of help from our amazing crew. From the CTD and SAPS have been taking samples for carbon analyzis, to the SPI camera taking photos of the sediment, the crew have been busy attaching cables and making sure everything works before it hits water. Both gravity coring and box coring have commenced, bringing up mud to make our deck all messy (and to be preserved for analysis!). A mooring has also been deployed at Mingulay, which will allow us to collect data for the next year or so....

This week also had our first science crew birthday on the ship - my 30th! I was thoroughly spoilt, with a big chocolate cake courtesy of Wally the chef, as well as presents and a round of 'Happy Birthday'!. On my birthday, we also gained a stowaway, Bob the pigeon. He appeared in the CTD area, and has spent the last two days giving himself a tour of the ship, from the hanger right through to trying to sneak in the lab!

We have completed all we have time for at Mingulay, and following a stunning sunset over the Hebrides (so I'm told, anyway!), it's on to Rockall!