Ready for departure
Reunion Island, east of Madagascar, west of Mauritius, is the starting point for our expedition. During the course of the summer, our research equipment has been shipped here by boat so that it would be ready for when we got here. Before departure container after container was loaded on board the research vessel Marion Dufresne and the ships helicopter was securely strapped inside the hangar. As I was on deck observing the hectic activity before departure it was hard not to get associations to similar scenes in the Titanic movie. Luckily there are no icebergs in the ocean around Kerguelen.
Many working together
This expedition is a cooperation between the French Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), French Polar Institute Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV), Ocean Tracking Network/Dalhousie University (OTN, Canada), and the NTNU University Museum. INRA has since the introduction of the eight species of salmonids to Kerguelen (see “Kerguelen part 1“) followed the development of these populations and it is INRA that has developed the research program that our work is a part of. IPEV is responsible for the logistics for all the French southern territories, which obviously is quite a bit more challenging than when we do field work in Norway. OTN is a Canadian based research cooperation where researchers from all over the world that use a specific type of electronic equipment to track animals in the ocean (acoustic telemetry), work together and exchange data. OTN is contributing to this expedition by supplying 54 automatic hydrophone receivers, which we will place in the fjords and rivers along the north side of Kerguelen. The NTNU University Museum is contributing with our solid experience when it comes to monitoring marine migration patterns and habitat use of sea trout with the use of acoustic telemetry.
On our way
Late afternoon we cast off and Marion Dufresne moves slowly away from the dock. Three long honks as a goodbye. Well out in the harbour basin the pilot climbs over the side and steps down the ladder into his own little boat. Soon mobile coverage disappears, but the lights from Le Port can be seen for still some time in the tropical night. The course is set. After two year of planning we are moving. Finally.
(Translated into English by Anders L. Kolstad)