Our decision to do a somewhat-shortened version of the 170°W section worked out fine. (We’ll attach a map to show you where we have sampled to date.) The weather was great, we completed the 8th (final) station 6 hours before deadline, and the data showed the features we hoped to measure. We then began a planned 50-hour steam to our next station. Half-way through we had to slow down due to the rough ride in moderately heavy weather. The slow-down used all the hours we had gained and then some, but we finally got back to work.
At our last station on the 170°W line a group of humpback whales swam around us - close by - for a couple of hours (See below). Although we have no way to know, they seemed to be enjoying themselves, swimming by in different positions, flapping fins on the water, making grunting sounds, etc. Just listening to their deep breathing was a treat.
As discussed in past reports, east of 150°W we widened our station spacing from the originally planned 30 nautical miles to 45. We plan to keep to this spacing until approximately 130°W.
If weather were ideal, we would deploy the Yuan/Sprintall mooring at 66.6°S, 136°W tomorrow afternoon, but that seems unlikely. There is list of planned events - bathymetric survey, on-site and regional CTD casts, the mooring deployment itself, XBT deployments along the path we steam - some of which can be in any order and some of which must occur in sequence. The team is very well prepared; all we need is good enough weather, which at present is in short supply. Watch for next week’s report to see how it all came out.
Well presented general information about our cruise is updated frequently on Juan Botella’s blog. Juan is a high school science teacher from Wisconsin who is participating on our cruise as part of the NSF-sponsored PolarTREC program. You will see that Juan is gifted at describing what we do and he is also an excellent photographer. Please see <http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/seawater-property-changes-in-the- southern-ocean>.
Life on board has been fine. We eat well (or a little too well in some cases). There are a few group activities such as a themed movie time. We were recently “killed” one by one in the stealthy tag game “murder” which is popular on research ships. (Juan was the winner, meaning the final “murderer” and last “alive”.) The cribbage tournament is into round two. And there are plans afoot for a couple of other group events or activities. Little things, but it keeps life moving along.
All is well on the Nathaniel B. Palmer.
Jim and Alex