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Research Vessel William Kennedy Cruise September 2021

One week after beginning my graduate studies with the 4D Oceans lab, I had the privilege of collaborating with several research scientists and students on the William Kennedy research vessel in Nain, Labrador. This was my first research cruise and my first extended period at sea, and I loved every minute of it. On September 15th we boarded the vessel and travelled three days to arrive in Nain. For two weeks, I took part in fascinating research projects that focused on the evolution and response of sea ice, recent and long-term climate fluctuations through oceanographic, and primary production analyses, mapping the seabed using a high-resolution multibeam echosounder, and nano-pollutant contaminant assessments. I worked the night shift for the duration of the cruise, where I mapped the seabed with the purpose of identifying the shape and structure of habitats on the seafloor that are occupied by Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and rock cod (Gadus ogac). This information will be used for my MSc research focused on supporting the government of Nunatsiavut’s marine management plan (‘Imappivut’).

Researchers and crew members on the William Kennedy cruise (September 2021)

I quickly learned that collecting data does not always run perfectly smooth, especially while at sea, as equipment failures and delays occurred very frequently. However, this experience was invaluable and improved my ability to problem solve and remain calm in situations that I have little control over. I was able to learn how to deploy and operate a variety of ocean technologies such as CTD’s, sediment cores, phytoplankton and zooplankton nets, ocean drifters, and multibeam echosounders. Now, I have a ton of data to process and analyze. Nain is such a beautiful place and the scenic views I saw while conducting research took my breath away. From large icebergs drifting slowly in front of a pink sky to the shining greens and yellows of northern lights, the whole experience was truly amazing.


Large iceberg during sunset

View of the northern lights during a night shift

Zachary MacMillan-Kenny

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