Recovering an oceanographic mooring

So in my previous post we deployed a mooring (in fact, those pictures were from the deployment of several different moorings). Now how do we get such a monster back on board again?

Recovering a mooring is always slightly nerve-wracking, because even though we’ve tried very hard to forget about this possibility during the year the mooring was out there in the ocean, it is never 100% certain that we will actually be able to recover it. It might not be there any more, or it might be out of batteries. I have been on cruises where we have had to give up on recovering moorings, or on another one where we had to dredge for a mooring (and found it!). Luckily, on this cruise things went smoothly and the way they were supposed to:

A sound signal is sent and establishes contact with a releaser that connects the anchor with the rest of the mooring. After establishing the position of the mooring, a signal is sent and the releaser lets go of the anchor: The mooring floats up to the surface!


Then, the task is to spot the orange floatation thingies in the waves.


And bring the ship close enough to actually connect a hook to it.



Once it is on the hook, it needs to be brought on board.


Remember, it’s hundreds to thousands meter of rope we are talking about! Luckily the Håkon Mosby is (as all research ships are) equipped with plenty of winches and cranes and a super helpful, knowledgeable and skilled crew.


Instruments are brought on board individually (or, in this case, a releaser).


After having been out in the ocean for a year or two, they are sometimes overgrown with stuff. And in this particular case, that bio stuff was stinky!


But pretty, I have to admit. I think it’s some sort of cold water coral. I think. Any biologists here?


But there is always a lot of stuff to be recovered.



And also pretty interesting: This is the first time I got a good look into one of those orange flotation thingies. I knew there was a glass sphere inside, but it was nice to actually see one. I had previously seen one that had imploded – it ended up pretty much pulverized. But so this is what we knock around on deck and throw out into the ocean:


But yeah. In a nutshell, this is how moorings are recovered.