Retrieving a Net from Under the Ice
Paul Ward - 1985-86 - Signy Island - Antarcticans Database Project - more

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Retrieving a Net from Under the Ice

Getting a net back in from through the sea-ice was always good for some nice atmospheric pictures.

If it was very cold, fish would freeze immediately on contact with the air - or almost so. A way around this was to pull the net as quickly out of the water as possible and into a bucket of water which would be then driven quickly back to the base where the fish were removed in balmy temperatures of -5C or more instead of -15C or below outside (sea-water freezes at -1.8C, so the fish live their lives at this temperature irrespective of what the air temperature was - if it gets colder, the ice just gets thicker).

If it wasn't too cold, fish could be removed from the net on the ice and then the net re-set immediately. The difference between dealing with things on the spot or taking the net back to base was about 2-3 hours work.

I always preferred it if it was at least a little windy out there on the ice, if it was flat calm I felt acutely aware of being in a vast open landscape and rather more exposed than was entirely comfortable.

Fishing through the sea-ice like this was always a risk. Once deployed, the net would start catching fish, if you didn't retrieve it every day and remove the fish, they would die in the net and this would attract various scavengers. After a short time it would be a horrible deadly mess - and completely useless for the purpose it was set for in the first place, to capture live fish.


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Photo; © Paul Ward