Ship life on board the MV Explorer
Life on board the MV Explorer is dictated by a disciplined, yet comfortable, routine. The workload for the sixteen scientists on the Antarctic blue whale voyage is divided across three teams: acoustics, observers and small boat.
The acoustics team are constantly listening for any blue whale calls. Once the ship is tracking a particular whale the observers keenly scan the horizon to visually sight the animal. On confirmation of a whale, it is action stations for all on board. Within ten minutes we launch the inflatable boat with five scientists aboard to attempt biopsy collection and photo identification of the whale. On the Explorer’s bow additional photographers take up position, while the ship guide climbs the mast to radio a heading to the inflatable boat. The whale may lead us a merry chase lasting hours, keeping everyone on their toes.
Luckily we always have a hearty meal ready for us once we’ve finished our shifts. The hard working chefs provide three meals a day and another for the night shift. There are two or four bunk-berths per cabin, some have a porthole, and all have minimal storage space. The washing machines and dryers are in constant demand from all on board. The two main work areas are usually jammed with scientists preoccupied with work on their laptops, although in the evenings we often watch a movie.
Captain John generously shares the spacious wheelhouse with observers, photographers, data managers and defrosting scientists returning from watch on the deck. The best part of the voyage is the panorama of stunning Antarctic scenery visible from the bridge - icebergs, wildlife and stunning sunsets. Returning to the office to analyse all the data we are collecting will be a challenge!