Oceans of Krill

  • Stephen Nicol


It was night, and the trawl deck of the Canadian research vessel Dawson was an oasis of light in the inky summer darkness. The ship rolled in the gentle swell, revealing a phosphorescent wake as the stern rose and fell. From the A-frame a single wire stretched taut into the floodlit water, which parted around it in a V-shaped wake as the ship moved slowly forward. At the appropriate signal, the ship’s hydraulics groaned into action, and the cable was slowly retrieved from the depths, dripping seawater from the pulley block. A cry of “Sight!” indicated that the net was close to the surface, a pale billowing ghost just visible in the subaquatic greenish light. The drizzling net emerged from the water and was hoisted overhead like an elongated mosquito net. As the wire reached the zenith of the A-frame, the net hung suspended above the glistening deck. The scientific crew sprang into action, using a seawater hose to wash the contents into the net’s cod-end—the small container at the end of the net that holds the catch.

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© Stephen Nicol 2018

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  • Stephen Nicol

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