We had an entire week to get ready, but today is the day. We finally got mud!
I guess benthic ecologists just never grew up and stayed young at heart… We do not say we are going to sample sediment; we say that we are going to play with some mud 🙂 This is probably one of the reasons why benthic ecologists are usually feared onboard scientific vessels: we really have fun! This plus the fact that we just get everything dirty everywhere we pass, sometimes even places where we did not pass…
In “regular” ships, in temperate latitudes, benthic sampling always takes place at the worst time of day, at night when all other scientific teams are resting between 2 and 6 am. But since we are working during the polar night, time does not matter and we sampled in the middle of the day – since it was night anyway.
During this cruise, we aim to sample 3 stations along a transect from the glacier to the open water. We came at other seasons, in spring, summer, and fall, and this data will complete the seasonal set in order to better understand seasonal changes (or not!) in benthic communities’ activities. In Arctic areas with abundant ice cover, benthic activities have been found to change as a function of seasons, with lower activities in the winter. However, in Kongsfjorden, where the ice has been declining so much, will the benthic communities change their activities?
To answer this question, we deployed a boxcorer, from which we subsampled individual sediment cores. Some of the cores will be sliced and frozen for future lab analyses of the characteristics of the sediment at that time (carbon and nitrogen contents, stable isotopes, pigments). The rest of the cores will be incubated in order to measure benthic activities: respiration, remineralisation of nutrients and bioturbation.
In order to stay young, benthic ecologists have a little secret that I will reveal exclusively here. You may wonder what we do with the rest of the mud from the boxcorer, and what is the link with staying young… Well, here is our secret, we use it as facial mask and therefore look younger! We call it the Arctic beauty. You may order it (20% to the first 200 people) contacting email@example.com
Text: Nathalie Morata