On-board Diary: Insomnia

Author: Carlos Suárez – Photographer
Date: May 22, 2012



Insomnia! The word has been drumming in my mind all through the night.

Today we are at the northernmost point we will reach in our Baltic Sea expedition. More exactly, we are in Grillklippan, Sweden, in the north Bothnia Gulf.

With so many hours of sunlight, the sun never sets and I am finding it very hard to sleep at night.  I remember Christopher Nolan’s film Insomnia, starring Al Pacino. I never thought I would feel like the veteran detective investigating in Alaska, played by Pacino. The main difference is that we have an easier job. We are divers, and this enables us to document the local seabed.  More specifically, this area is protected as a reservation, due to the colony of birds that nest here. From the ship, we can see razorbills and other species fluttering around the islets.

We don’t expect to find much marine life here. We are well aware that very cold meltwater flows down to this shore. You can see it at simple sight in its colour, as it is full of sediments. This, which might seem catastrophic for an underwater photographer trying to take good pictures, is frequent in the Northern Baltic.  It’s just an inconvenience which we deal with on a daily basis and which poses no great problems, although it does make things difficult.

Despite water conditions, we managed to document some fish and other organisms. At the end of the dive, the weather has improved considerably. The sun is shining and the sky is completely cloudless. We start to focus on ROV operations, and spend time downloading images and identifying the species documented in previous dives. 

Later on, we will have to get all the underwater photograph equipment ready for the next dive in another location. As always, we are expecting to find something different. Unlike Al Pacino’s character in Nolan’s film, I am lucky enough to go diving, and this makes insomnia more bearable.