The seismic experiment begins

August 14 – We have reached the position in Gåsefjord from where the seismic experiment will begin. The three whales deployed with satellite transmitters are located in a side fjord to Gåsefjord. Their positions can be downloaded via our computer. The airgun is being launched from the back of Pamiut. There is an intense atmosphere on the ship. This is what we have been waiting for. This is the culmination of all the man-hours that have been put into this project; from the first thoughts of how to design, finance and implement an experiment of this calibre, to writing funds applications, arranging for the ship and crew and so on. It all began four years ago, and here we are, at the ultimate culmination. Can it be more exciting than this?

First airgun pulse is released. For every pulse, air is released from the airgun creating a seismic wave of sound. The airgun is located 2,5 meters under the surface and is attached to a buoy that can be seen from the ship. Remaining air bobbles from the wave goes to the surface and lifts the buoy up in the water. A pulse is created for every 12 seconds. Within the first couple of minutes from launching Per realizes that something is wrong, the pressure is too low, the amount of energy that was supposed to be released is only half of what we expected. We stop the experiment only a few minutes after launching.

Bouy and air bobbles

For a second I feel a bit worried for the whole operation. But Per is quick and he knows his gear – within no time the error is located and about one and a half hour later we are up running again. This time all is good and the first part of our experiment runs as scheduled all night and at 9.30 the airgun is once again on board the ship. The operation was a success and we can now rest with ease.

We rest for about 6 hours and then we do it all again. The data we get from the whales will be analysed when we are back behind our desks in Denmark.