Uh, what? Wait, in an earlier blog entry they covered dinosaurs, now they are talking sci-fi stuff… aren’t they supposed to explore the deep sea, with all its odd but beautiful creatures?!
Well… actually yes! But as the weather is still treating us roughly and the first station work is yet to be done, it might be about time to talk – yes indeed – about time travelling!
About 125 years ago the Danish “Ingolf” expedition started – a scientific cruise to explore the deep Arctic sea around Iceland and Greenland. Among meteorological observations, abiotic measurements, botanical work, and investigations regarding fishing, the cruise report of Captain C. F. Wandel mentions zoological work and sampling for collections as the main objective for the voyage. But that’s not the end of the similarities between their mission and ours. They started their journey from the Faroe Islands, travelled up northwards of Iceland, fought bad weather again and again, and finally sampled in the Davis Strait west of Cape Farewell, which we – surprise surprise – passed nearby. Furthermore, on board the Ingolf was a zoologist and taxonomist by the name of Dr. Hans Jacob Hansen, which Nature titled “one of the most distinguished of the long line of descriptive zoologists who have placed the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen in the very front rank of the museums of the world.” (Nature, 1.8.1936). His particular interest laid in the investigation of Crustaceans especially the order Isopoda. He described numerous new species discovered during the Ingolf expedition, including a species called Chelator insignis Hansen 1916, which was found east of Greenland in the Labrador Sea. More than a hundred years later, this species was found south of Iceland during the BIOICE project (Benthic Invertebrates of Icelandic waters) and the IceAGE project in huge numbers (>6000 individuals in only BIOICE!), by enthusiastic marine biologists Jörundur Svavarsson and Saskia Brix, who are – like Hansen in previous times – experts in isopod taxonomy. But how did the tiny isopod get there, what are the pathways that it used to travel such an enormous distance? Is it genetically related to the population in the Labrador Sea? These are just a few questions we want to shed light on within the IceDivA2 project.
So here we are steaming over the rough North Atlantic, passing a total of five time zones and over a century of marine research to the original area in the Davis Strait, following in the footsteps of H. J. Hansen and the Ingolf expedition. Continuing their fundamental work with the most modern techniques of biology, geography and hydrography – time travelling at its best!