Monday, 4 February 2013

Ο Σταύρος του Νότου και τα μεγαλύτερα φύκη του κόσμου (Feb. 3; Frithjof) The Southern Cross and the largest algae in the World (Feb. 3, Frithjof)

Αυτή τη νύχτα, είχαμε μια φανταστική ξαστεριά. Τόσο μακρυά από το περισσότερο πληθυσμό του κόσμου, τ’αστέρια και ο γαλαξίας μας εμφανίζονται πολύ καθαρά – πολύ σπάνιο στην Ευρώπη μας! Είδα το Σταύρο του Νότου και θυμήθηκα το τραγούδι του μεγάλου Καββαδία.
The next morning we went scuba diving with Stevie Cartwright, Paul Brewin, Sarah Lee and Simon Browning of the Falklands Shallow Marine Surveys Group (SMSG) – our friends from the Painted Shrimp Expedition to Ascension Island in September last year. Stevie took us to Port William north of Stanley Harbour – a coastline with a splendid giant kelp forest and close to Beatrice Cove, where I had a marvellous dive in December 2010 (when I met a pod of Comerson’s dolphins and a southern sea lion – plus a new species record  for the Falklands, Syringoderma australe, all in one dive). Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is the largest alga in the World. Up to at least 60 m long, it can grow up to around 30 cm per day!! Not surprisingly, it occurs in impressive forest-like communities on the Pacific coast of North and South America as well as the sub-Antarctic region. 
 Diving in giant kelp, with patches of light coming in through small gaps in the canopy, gives me a feeling similar to that of being in a tall cathedral – adding to this the feeling of weightlessness in neutral buoyancy makes for a very special experience.
Once we moored the boat, with Simon and Sarah already under water and Alexandra, Paul, Steve and me on the boat, suddenly again a pod of Comerson’s dolphins showed up, just around 3 m in front of us – but they didn’t stay around this time. Other company for us were Magellanic penguins and imperial cormorants. Finally, Paul and I readied our scuba equipment and went in. The experience of diving in giant kelp was once more fantastic, with many collections made and photos taken. How incredibly lucky we were to be here!
Getting back out, we could not stay around very long since gale force winds were coming up fast, and we headed back to Stanley.
As usual, a busy night in our improvised lab at SAERI followed!

 Giant kelp forest

 Sea shells on Lessonia

 Lessonia forest

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