“Do var en do”, or “das was das” as they say in German…
Final day in the field, and all goes down into boxes. This morning two planes loaded with students, researchers and equipment left Ny-Ålesund for Longyearbyen. Left here in Ny-Ålesund were only the last 15 people with the questionable pleasure of sorting out all the leftovers and last pieces of equipment. Fortunately, we have a German and über-organiser with us to create order out of chaos – Daniel Vogedes. Actually, the packing reminds me of the pub-night we had on Saturday – a few of us (Paul, Eva, Gerald and myself) left the remanding party for a game of pool. While playing, we quickly realised that we were all stunningly lacking any talent for handling balls with a long stick. In fact, it was as if entropy would have been a better strategy than any f us aiming at any of the 6 pockets. And entropy is what would have ruled the day of packing had it not been for Daniel – thanks to him things came into their correct boxes and (in more or less an orderly manner) onto pallets. All in all we have now packed some 1500kg of equipment in loose boxes that will go back to Longyear by plane and 11 large pallets of additional equipment that are to be sent back by boat – the coastguard will kindly bring them back to Longyear in February). In addition to this, is of course all personal luggage for all 60+ participants. All in all, quite a circus…with Daniel in the middle hurding people around with a whip in his hand!
Anyway, we are on our way home. We have had some 900 researcher days in the field over the last two weeks, and we have all but emptied Kongsfjorden for zooplankton. We have used and successfully tested prototypes of purpose-built light sensors that for the first time have made it possible to character size and quantify the changing light that affect all organisms in the ocean during the polar night, and we have successfully used a wide range of underwater automated platforms to study the patterns and processes that characterise the marine polar night. We have collected unrefutable evidence for werewolf activity among Arctic zooplankton, and we have unique data on the diet of seabirds that are found up here in the dark. And, finally, we are all returned unharmed and safe!
The coming months will now be filled with data-handling. lab-analyses and writing up as much results as possible. After all, it is not more than 345 days until a new polar night adventure starts in January 2015!
Jørgen Berge (expedition leader)