The voyage draws to its final week. We are across the 50S latitude. We sit over a shallow hump 1500m down. To our north the sea plunges to 6km into the Argentine Basin. The circumpolar current surges beneath us once again. The cooler Antarctic Waters to the South twist and dance around the warm Atlantic waters. A tango of frontal interaction. Between the tosses and turns we search desperately for the blob of tracer. We only have a few opportunities left to taste the tracer before we steam to the Falklands.
Th Argentine Basin is deep. Six km down into the ocean means there is 6km of water above you. The pressure felt at that depth would be like having about 3,000 people walking all over. There would be the kids on top, the teenagers, the old fogies, Oliver Cromwell, Julius Caesar, the Neanderthals, the lot. Even a few large Dinosaurs and the bus they are all travelling in (if this doesn't make sense to you see the previous post on taking a bus with Genghis Kahn). To have a little fun with that sort of pressure, and to get a little memento of the voyage, Pierre got the scientist on board to decorate a polystyrene cup. He then attached the cup to the CTD before it went all the way to 6km.
Photo: Pierre's little Cup and it's original size.
To ease the tension of not finding much of the blob, a competition is proposed: who can guess how much we will find? previous year's maximums have been around 1 and 0.5 (in Femto-Moles - 0.000000000000001 moles). This cruise it is barely above 0.15. Some have boldly predicted the tracer is centred up this way and we will catch it at around 0.5. Others are more pessimistic and predict there will be almost none. I am assuming the people who say higher are as right as the people who say lower. So my best guess is that we will find the blob at the same concentration we have all voyage...so that's what I go for...I won't gloat...but...so far I am right....
Photo: The 'tracer worm' showing what everyone guessed. (I won't gloat yet...)
Picking the peak tracer isn't the only game going around the ship. A game of 'Killers' has been instigated. Each player gets the name of another player. This is their mark. The mark must be found alone and the words 'your dead' uttered (preferably followed by an evil laugh). No witnesses. The mark carried by the dead is passed on and the killer. They pursue their new mark and on the game goes...until only two are left. It may ease the monotony, but the tension could be cut with a dagger (to the back). Over a beer the first night of the competition, names are passed around with much laughter and comradeship. Within minutes-silence. No one wants to go to bed...at least not alone. Bladders become strained. By early morning countless dead...and only a few of us now stand...