A typical day on the Marion Dufresne

7.30 am, the alarm clock rings and I wake up. I go get breakfast downstairs before joining Thibaut, Franck and Maxime on the bridge where we observe marine birds. We ID and count them during 10 minutes every hour. One of us watches birds in a quarter of a circle going from the bow of the boat to the starboard side and writes down all the birds found in a 300-meter radius. At the end of the 10 minutes, one goes to the stern of the boat to count the species following the ship. In the meantime, another one of us writes down different parameters regarding the ship (its activity, speed, and direction), the weather and general conditions (air and water temperatures, wind strength and direction, precipitation, cloud cover...), that we can find on different screens on the bridge. For us, it's often the first time we're lucky enough to observe some if not most of the bird species we see. We went from a subtropical bird assemblage, to a subantarctic one. As we go south, we begun to see different species of petrels, and then albatrosses, then prions, giant petrels, diving petrels and skuas. During those counting sessions, we also record the presence of marine mammals. In Reunion Island, we got really lucky as we observed humpback whales jumping out of the water, pretty close to us. We also saw some spermwhales farther away. Ever since this moment, the observations of cetaceans have been scarced. We only saw a few whales (rorquals) that were quite far away.
11 am, one can hear the announcement inviting us to go get lunch: «Your attention please, first lunch service, enjoy your meal! ». I have to admit, the food here is really good! After lunch, we go back to the bridge and resume our bird counts (since it needs to be done from sunrise to sunset). During the 50 minutes lefts after the count, we have different activites: photo sessions when birds are close enough, sorting out our photos, reading, taking naps, watching movies...
At mid-day, the boat stops. It's time for the oceanographs on board to get their work done. They send CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth recorders) rosettes, for instance, to sample the water column at different depths and measure at the same time a bunch of parameters. Different programmes study various problematics. To quote only one of them, some scientists quantify natural radioactive elements, which allows them to know the age of the water masses encountered. Around 6 pm, the last observation of the day takes place and sunset happens within an hour. When it's too dark to see anything, we leave the bridge to go get some exercise. The holds being empty during the oceanographic cruises (usually, during « normal » trips, they are full 
of boxes and containers), a badminton court had been set up. There is also a basketball court. We play a few games before dinner. Some of us like 
going to the fitness « center » better where there are bikes, a conveyor belt to run, and body-building machines. After a quick 
shower, it's already time to eat. We hear the usual announcement: « Your attention please, second dinner service, enjoy your meal! » We usually eat and end up at the bar. Some play table football and some play cards. From time to time there are movies to watch in the video room as well. It's now midnight, I go back to my cabin and go to bed rocked by the waves.


The Marion in the harbor, in Reunion Island


Wandering albatros


On the Marion

Southern Ocean oceanographic campaign crossing Marion Dufresne seabirds

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