Part 9 – Confession

If you thought upon reading the blog post title that this would be an apology over the recent lack of news, you were wrong. We’ve had no internet for a week now, so it’s been beyond my control, couldn’t do anything about it, get off my back okay?! But no, we’re now just off the coast of Svalbard, in view of the beautiful glassy mountains, and therefore back in satellite range. (Actually, we’re on the East coast, as there was a change of plan. Turns out, you need to hire a Svalbardian pilot to get into the western fjords where our final stations were, which wasn’t mentioned until recently – and this pilot has to be helicopter-dropped on board, costing like 10 grand. Hence we are now sampling the East.)

This confession comes as science starts to wind down. See, I call myself a vegan. But over the course of this cruise, I have crossed into the murderous realm of the other side. I have mercilessly killed 270 animals by freezing them alive, and I will burn their bodies or extract their lipids when I’m ashore. Despicable. This isn’t even all. Half of these copepods have been tricked time and time again, thinking they were safe, because I kept them in bottles for 5 days measuring how much they eat. Worse, I harvest their young, use a vaccuum to suck their precious eggs onto a filter and then freeze them next to the bodies of their parents. The ones that aren’t picked for this atrocious ordeal, being the wrong age, species, or accidentally a bit squashed, are callously chucked down the sink. Even more are handed over to a fellow conspiritor, who brutally pours chemicals on them, preserving them to be eternally probed and examined, unable even to rest in peace.

Does it help that I whisper to them all about how I’m going to try and save the Arctic, save the world? About how their deaths won’t be in vain, and how they will be used to investigate climate change and to understand their species, one that spans oceans? Does it help that they don’t have brains, and are less then 3mm long, and are invertebrates, deemed so rudimentary that I don’t need to fill ethics forms in to work with them? Does it help that I feel really REALLY sad about it when I do it? I will feel endless guilt and have to convert some people to veganism to make it up to the vegan gods.

I’m only joking, of course. I do feel a little bad, but it’s no more damage than a simple walk through the park does to ants. Can’t avoid everything.

On a non-confessional note, the other day I woke up, staggered up to the
computer control room for my usual wait on the CTD, looked out the window and realised we were surrounded by a whole pod of common dolphins! So silky smooth, jumping around everywhere. I immediately ran outside and watched them come really close to the boat, chasing the birds that were sat in our wake. Then we realised they had friends – two fin whales popped up just a bit further away. The dolphins stayed for over an hour, obviously oblivious to the sins of the vegan on board. So beautiful!

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