13 May 2019
Well, it was bound to happen eventually… we’ve used up more than our fair share of good luck these last couple weeks and have finally suffered our first failure. And of course it had to be something I (Ben) was in charge of: the bubble frame which was put in place on the seabed late last night. Equipped with two underwater cameras and an illuminated back panel (against which to see the bubbles rising) it was supposed to give us a glorious close-up view of our bubbles.
Unfortunately, on its return to the deck of the ship the waterproof casing that houses one of the cameras immediately started pouring out water – always a bad sign. What small iota of hope I had for the second camera being safe was sadly shattered when the first clasp on the housing was released and the insides instantly shot out along with a nice spray of water. At this time, I can report both battery packs and one camera are dead, with the other in a critical condition (i.e. in a bag of rice).
A post-mortem of the camera housings revealed a small manufacturing default just beneath the lens of both sets which had allowed water to slowly seep in over time and flood the camera. Just goes to show that sometimes you can do everything right but things still go wrong.
Of course we’re not ones to cry over spilled milk on the James Cook, we’re problem solvers here. As the great hotel reviewer Bear Grylls says “improvise, adapt, survive.” With a full understanding of what went wrong, Rob is already hard at work fixing the housings whilst backup cameras are being prepared. Odds are that the bubble frame will be back in the water before the week is out!
Steering the blog away from my problems, everything else has been going amazingly well. Gas and water samples are continuing to be collected and analysed and the benthic chamber has been redeployed. We’ll be moving off site soon so the RV Poseidon can carry out some water column surveys using CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth – the three basic measurements of seawater properties) before we all leave the area to give the hydrophone walls some “quiet time” with the bubbles.