The first field trip went to Armor and the mountains around it. Armor is the remains of a failed attempt of a commercial fish farm on Kerguelen. One consequence of this endeavour is that today there is Coho-salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in a nearby catchment, but it is assumed that this population is losing out in the competition against brown trout. This is what we are examining this first day. After several weeks of not doing very much it is great to get a day with a 20 km hiking trip combined with electrofishing. The result was one Coho-salmon and 100 trout, to the assumption seems to have been accurate.
The next day the weather was altering between a violent storm and a small hurricane, so we limited ourselves to a 8 km trip to do some electrofishing in a different catchment. A field team, whom we share a cabin with, did a longer hike in order to reach a hot spring and tell that they sometimes had to lie flat on the ground so as to not blow away. I’m well used to strong winds from Northern-Europe, but down here the wind is nearly constant, something that may become a bit tiresome after a while…
Another consequence of the attempted fish farming at Armor is that today there is a population of Atlantic salmon in the catchment that gave its name to the facility. Probably this population has no direct connection to the ocean, and so one out of two things may happen: the population adapts to completing the entire life cycle in freshwater (as the ‘Namsblank’ did in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway), or, the population simply dies out. Our electrofishing here indicated that the same thing is happening here as with the Coho-salmon – the brown trout is dominating the rivers and supressing the other species.
We made the Christmas celebration – barely
Transport to and from the different areas on Kerguelen depends on the boat La Curiuese, which is of a perfect size for manoeuvring the fjord systems down here. The 24th December we were picked up on the beach at Amor at the scheduled time of 11:00 and we would them be back at the research station in good time for the Christmas dinner. However, there was a strong wind (of course) that kept us from making the trip from La Curiuese to land with the rubber boat, so then all we could do was to stay on board hoping the Santa’s present for us this year was a suitable change in the weather. Somebody on board must have been very nice, because we did make it ashore – 15 minutes before dinner.
See previous post from the Kerguelen expedition
Translated by Anders L. Kolstad