Well today, all our gear hit the deck after a spell on the abyssal plain of the SouthFijiBasin. Doesn’t sound that significant, other than it marked the end of science on this trip. Its significance, however, has a greater reaching ‘bozy’ as it marks the end of HADEEP. Or at least the ship-time, Niki, Heather and Thom still have to publish at least 80 papers between them before it’s actually over.
For me, I have lived and breathed HADEEP for 6 and a half years. In that time I have been to Japan about 7 times, New Zealand about 7 times, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Guam and now New Caledonia, clocked up a gazillion air miles, got married, had two kids, published probably too many papers, done something like 90 lander deployments between 1000 and 10,000m in 6 trenches, spent a lot of time on Japanese vessels, a German vessel with brain surgeons on, experienced the M9 Japanese earthquake and sniffed the radioactive fallout, discovered decapoda at hadal depths, found the supergiants where they shouldn’t be, filmed the deepest fish alive, found the deepest fish in the southern hemisphere, had a Japanese amphipod named after me, collected many new species of critters, drank Saki with a famous Japanese guy I’ve never heard of, saw the rise and fall of Alfie, Nacho and Latis, had a lander blessed by Maori, worked with many a fine person (and some equally as awful, you know who you are…), and spent nearly 70 days on this fine vessel, the Kaharoa which stand out amongst the rest. Now it is all at an end, for HADEEP is no more, although no one, including myself really knows exactly what HADEEP is, or was, or could have been. It is just a thing. A thing.
So this afternoon, in my mind we took HADEEP in both hands, kissed it gently on the forehead, told it that it had a wonderful life before quietly smothering it with a unicorn pillow until it stopped wriggling, then wrapped it in a rampant lion flag and drop kicked it, like an All Black, into the tide. All of this to the soundtrack of anything by Nine Inch Nails played loud.
We need a HADEEP Montage here…..
That is not to say that my trusty Argonauts and I are going to stop travelling to the end of the Earth on quests to rip the hate filled golden nuggets off Hades himself, far from it. HADEEP has now been rammed into the colon of the much larger international HADES project which will see the introduction of many more credible scientists than I and some far more sophisticated technology that will be unleashed in the Kermadec Trench and Mariana Trench in 2014. These expeditions will not involve 2000 mile round trips on inshore trawlers that rock n’roll in the slop like an inflatable pig, but rather moving back to using larger, more capable vessels albeit with less character than this old girl.
Pointy end still pointing south, only 400 miles to go.
Alan – 30th November