Photo of the Week: Miracle on Ice


Crew members from the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat from the Swedish icebreaker Oden are relieved after helping to recover an instrument package deployed by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The ship altered its course to rescue a High-Frequency Acoustic Recording Package, or HARP, after the instrument broke loose from its seafloor mooring and began to drift amid icebergs at the surface. Scripps graduate student researcher Joshua Jones said members of the Whale Acoustics Lab could see the HARP drift via satellite through the Barrow Strait in the Canadian Arctic. They were about to give it up for lost when, in what Jones called a stroke of luck, it happened to drift near the course of Oden. The Scripps team was put in touch with Oden by a collaborator from Oceans North, Canada and a biologist from Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The HARP contained a year's worth of underwater sound recordings, including calls of belugas, narwhals, and ice-breeding seals in the region.

The ship's crew, U.S. and Canadian scientists involved in the Northwest Passage Project, and the National Science Foundation, which funded the cruise, agreed to make an effort to retrieve the package before it was crushed by the large chunks of ice. The ship was unable to retrieve its hydrophone, which had been severed from the rest of the package but the recordings appeared to be intact. They will help establish a baseline of underwater noise and marine mammal acoustic presence in the Canadian Arctic. The HARP will be relocated and redeployed to help Parcs Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association begin underwater monitoring of marine mammals and ship noise in the new Tallurutiup Imanga Marine National Protected Area, also in the Canadian Arctic, Jones said.

For the Northwest Passage Project, led by the University of Rhode Island, scientists are carrying out several experiments related to the rapidly changing nature of the region. Photo: Inner Space Center


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