“Incremental” Success

CATEGORIES: Field Blog/News
Michael, Al, and Dan

A mid-week check in from SIPERG here. Weather has been not great during our time so far (windy/chilly). This is typical for Ingøya – in previous years we got really lucky with excellent weather. Hopefully you have been keeping up with Dan Frost’s blog (frostinthearctic.com) – but here we give a quick update on today’s work:

The clamming crew headed offshore today with Captain Erlend in search of a deepwater population. This year, we were armed with better bottom type maps. Combine this with the wisdom of local fisherman and we had a recipe for success for finding the right habitat. We were looking for a good thick layer of sand. Even if it is a small patch, we know the clams will be there. As science goes, however, success doesn’t always come easy. The first few tows in the “Rabbit” picked up small rocks and not much else. One challenge we continually worry about is how much line to let out to ensure the dredge scrapes along the bottom at a low enough angle for the teeth to dig in. The rabbit is close to 300 meters deep – and we may not have let out enough line to get a good scrape. Regardless, we abandoned the Rabbit after a few tries and moved East towards a 150 meter deep, yet-unnamed location (suggestions welcome) that was Erlend-approved and appeared to be sandy-bottom.

Sediment map. Yellow areas are sandy bottom.
Sediment map. Yellow areas are sandy bottom.

The dredge spent a good 15 minutes at the bottom, dragged only by the winds pushing the boat along at a steady 0.4 knots. Al, Michael, Dan, and Maddie eagerly awaited as Erlend worked his magic pulling up rope and dredge. We dumped the net on deck and sorted through rocks and a few starfish and urchins to find one little clam! This was a much needed morale boost after a hard morning at sea in rough weather. We did our best to repeat the same track, but overcoming the tides was a big challenge. We brought up one more little clam before moving on to try a different spot. We returned to camp at about 6:00.