Today we took a bit of a break of stirring up the mud to collect samples to instead collect some images to better communicate what a remarkable environment we are privileged enough to dive in. Here is Rowan collecting some imagery up in the tidal cracks where we spend our “Safety Stops”. Safety stops are used to get the nitrogen that builds up in our blood while underwater out, and while we never spend long enough down to need to off-gas on the way up, it adds a safety margin to diving (and is pretty).
One of my favorite things about working under the ice here is that when we look up, it is a sky of ice above us rather than the surface of the ocean. At this (so far our main and only dive site) there is a lot of snow on top of the ice which makes it VERY dark underwater. We can see ok without lights (not great) but the cameras really struggle to collect good imagery. Above you can see a boulder covered by hundreds of Anemone as well as some soft corals with a crack in the background. This crack separates the shore from the ocean and is caused by the ocean tides rising and falling throughout the day, pushing the floating ice up while the ice stuck to the land stays where it is. The fuzzy bits on the rock in this image are plates of ice growing over everything (we are at around 40ft/13m depth here.
We actually spend more of our time underwater doing what Lila is doing here, sampling the mud. In this particular case, she is collecting water through a filter that is stuck in the mud. It only collects the water so we can analyze the chemistry to look at how th environment changes for microbial communities and animal communities with increasing depth.
I am always amazed at the blue’s of the water here in this land of ice both above and underwater. The ice stops at about 40-60ft but the coloration of the surface is spectacular.