Thursday, 10 May 2012

The day Islander stood still

The blog has been somewhat neglected in the excitement of last week's flurry of typically Welsh variable weather, ups and downs -and finally great success- but if you've been waiting to hear more from the C-CATS team, just read on!

With the weather showing us it's most uncooperative side, the C-CATS team was getting increasingly restless over the weekend. Everyone was eager ready to go, not least thanks to the great support team at MALTA, that helped Jens and Felix sort out a minor glitch with the recording program over the weekend. Of course there was always things to be done, but what we really wanted- and needed- to do was get back onto the water and that was just not happening. Tuesday finally showed some promise, the wind was due to drop off in the afternoon and everyone was on red alert, ready to drop everything else and grab their waterproofs at a moment's notice. Finally we received the call we were all waiting for from Hanna- just to be stopped in our tracks half way out of the door. We might have been ready to go but the boat was not. A loose cable was playing havoc and jeopardising one of the few chances we had had to get out onto the water. We were facing a dilemma, give up and give up one of the only chances to collect valuable data or somehow get out on the water and 'make it happen'.

We decided to make it happen.

Making it happen
With the help of Brett, who co-owns Islander with Hanna, we towed Islander into the bay using his RIB. The calm waters allowed us to anchor Islander just off Bird's rock and let Jens and Felix deploy the hydrophone array, while -in the absence of porpoises and dolphins- Hanna, Winnie, Marta and Katrin prepared Magnus, the directional hydrophone, on the RIB for playback experiments. The calm waters were somewhat deceiving as we soon discovered, the strong tidal pull made it difficult to position Magnus accurately but after initial difficulties, we soon got the hang of it and ran a number of successful trials with the array. With night closing in around us, we were ready to keep going as long as it took to get the data the needed but it was not meant to happen. Loud yelling from the Islander alerted the team on the RIB that the Islander team was not 'ready' to record and with a fair bit of trepidation as to what other obstacle could have possibly been thrown our way now, we approached to see what was the matter. To our dismay, a part of the array had worked itself loose and the Islander team was working hard to get it back onto the boat. Having recovered the pole- and ourselves a little bit from the shock- we finally decided to head back to shore after a very long day, somewhat disappointed at the turn of events, but still with a good amount of data and safe in the knowledge we had done everything we possibly could have done under the conditions we had encountered.

Magnus ready for playbacks

Luckily, Tuesday was not to be a sign of things to come, however, and with the weather turning in our favour the following days, the disappointment was soon forgotten as we were launched into an exhilarating whirlwind of activity and excitement at the first 'real' recordings...

Check back later to find out more!

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