April 13, 2012 Whale Bone Lander Recovery
Speed 4.4 knots
Location Larsen Channel (-63.10372167, -56.00671833)
Depth 403 meters
At the beginning of the trip, we were supposed to pick up a whale bone lander but the ice and wind conditions prevented us from being able to. We've come all the way back to the point where we started and today we were actually able to recover the whale bones.
These bones were sunk to the bottom of the ocean two years ago. Much like the mooring that I talked about a couple weeks ago, these were held on the surface of the seafloor by large weights. Attached to the weights is a device that detaches the lander from the weights and allows it to rise to the surface. The researchers "talk" to that device using specific pulses at specific frequencies of sound. This morning the whale bone lander was released and, unfortunately at first, ended up under a sheet of ice.
The ship slowly nudged up against the ice several times. Eventually, one of the floats popped out from under the ice.
The technicians put a grappling hook on it and pulled the whole thing out from under the ice. The flag that usually appears to mark its arrival at the surface finally popped up and everyone cheered.
The lander was dragged to the stern (back) of the boat and the floats were first removed from the lander.
Then the whale bone lander was lifted and placed on the deck.
The whale bones were attached all over the lander and many different organisms were using the whale bones as their home. The scientists are currently in the process of disassembling the lander and investigating what creatures are living in and on the bones. There's a large group of scientists that will be working day and night to collect data as quickly as possible before we cross the Drake Prassage.