Friday, 20 April 2012


With gale force winds still battering the New Quay coast, we were all confined to land, but there was plenty of work to keep us busy.

Marta, Katrin and Winnie set to work writing out the theodolite set-up and use protocol, cliff observation forms and maps for tracking porpoise movements. All equipment for the cliff observations was prepared and sorted into (many) appropriate bags ready for use when the weather calms.

Meanwhile, Felix and Jens set up the hydrophone array with the help of Luke and Gemma. As we couldn't measure the whole attachment at once we have to go step by step. First step was to measure the array on land (i.e not attached to the boat). The second step will be to connect this to the boat on a different day. Our measurements involved the positions of all 15 hydrophones and some points on the bar as a reference for further measurements. Using the accurate positions of each of the hydrophones and calculating the time differences in arrival we will be able to calculate the angle and distances of the animal.

Setting up the hydrophone array bars and measuring them

Hanna and Kati took on the very important job of cutting out displays to notify other boat traffic that our vessel had limited manoeuvrability while the array is attached. The CultiCave was set up in the living room of the house to make sure all equipment that needed to be inside, along with Felix and Jens could fit.

After careful monitoring of the weather, there was finally a break on Thursday night, meaning it was all systems go! GPS positions were printed out, logistics were discussed and Kati prepared all the C-PODS and T-PODS ready for deployment in the early hours of the following morning.

We were up with the first light, knowing that this was our chance to finish deploying all the PODS. Hanna expertly navigated the boat to the beach with the help of Kati who donned her drysuit and had waded up to her shoulders to guide the boat in the shallows. With all of the team pitching in the weights were quickly loaded, and it was round to the slip way to collect the moorings, buoys and PODS. With all equipment loaded and each person's role assigned, Islander left the harbour with it's crew of Jens, Kati, Gemma, Marta and skipper Hanna, and headed out onto the calm sea. However this was not to last; as the wind picked up and conditions worsened three out of the five man crew were struck with sea-sickness, however our team soldiered on, letting nothing affect their work! And after only a few hours with an extremely efficient system now in place, the last nine PODS were deployed, completing the static acoustic monitoring (SAM) set-up. YAY!!

Early morning in New Quay harbour.

Jens, Hanna, Kati and Marta ready for a morning of deploying the last PODS

In the afternoon, the hydrophone array was carried down to the boat, assembled on the shore as per the measurements yesterday. We then held the bars in place while they were levelled and securely attached to the boat, cutting a layer of foam to put between it and the boat for protection of both. As the tide was coming in, Kati and Winnie swiftly changed into drysuits to finish attaching the array bar in place, running ratchet straps from the bar under the boat and fastening it to the opposite side. With the last tightening of the strap the array bar was fixed meaning it is now ready for poles containing multiple hydrophones to be suspended down into the water from; and with this the first test-run of this system, a very exciting prospect for us all!

Carrying all the pieces of the array bar down the many steps and onto the beach

Array bars to the boat
Fastening the bar to 'Islander'
Array bar attached to the boat! YAY!

Winnie and Kati in their drysuits ready to attach the last strap, fixing the array bar to the boat!

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