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Journals 2003/2004

Lynn Masellis
McGinnis Middle School, Perth Amboy, NJ

"Late summer ecosystem monitoring survey"
R/V Argo Maine, Gulf of Maine
August 19 - 30, 2003

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DAY 7: Monday, August 25, 2003

On this morning call I finally felt rested. I was warm and the seas came to rest. It was enjoyable not to be sleeping on a roller coaster. We had two casts that morning and it was so beautiful out. Jerry and I shared both posts (inside by the computer and outside on deck) we were traveling the coast of Nova Scotia and then back towards the Bay of Fundy and Maine. The waters were so calm, not as much as a ripple was the extent of waves we experienced this particular day. In the storm seas we collected large amounts of calanus. At one station we almost needed a second jar to fill. That was unusual. Each jar was labeled with the station and location inside and outside the jar. There isn't much room for error. And I was wondering what do we do when we have collected too much in one sample. Well, Jerry managed to get it all into one container. Remember that each plant and animal is going to be counted and compared to past samples so everything you collect is important to the research. We laughed when we had too much calunus, I pretended I was going to eat it so the rest could fit into the jar. It was something I learned from the I Love Lucy show.

As the day continued I believe it was our best day. Everyone got some rest and the sea was beautiful. We also got our first glance at land. It made me feel like we were coming down the home stretch. That day I say a 15-foot basking shark, a sunfish, different hues of blue and green in the seawater and even a whales' tail. I realized that a lot of these creatures have no real need to come to the surface. They find what they need in the deeper depths of the Atlantic. The crew and all three scientists enjoyed the day exploring sea life and continuing our station sampling. It is much easier to jump into your hip boots and collect bongo samples when you are not rocking all over the boat.

Jerry and I continued our exercise routine on the back deck. Each say we agreed to add another article of cumbersome attire. Then the challenge would be to see who could jump the most in a round. The loser bought the beer when we hit land. Somehow, we seemed to keep the score even. Later, the captain found out what we were doing and warned us of the hazards of losing your balance on deck. So, we respected his wishes and put our tournament on hold.

After awhile I was sitting alone on the back deck just looking out. And finally after many days of searching I saw a whale. Wow, they sure can blow that waterspout. That's about all you could see when a whale makes an appearance. When the gigantic whales' tail raised high it is a wave good bye. He's taking the lower route and diving deep for his dinner. It is such an awesome sight to see on a peaceful ocean. It was now time for dinner and I couldn't wait to tell them what I saw.

The next station we were to conquer was about 7 p.m. We had smooth conditions so we completed a set of double bongos and retreated to the galley for a movie with peanuts and popcorn. I fell asleep watching, "Hunt for Red October." I woke up just in time for our next station at 11:15. These particular stations last longer because our drop for the bongos are about 200-300 meters. What amazes me is that we haven't caught one single fish by accident. I guess they are smarter than they look. What's kind of neat are the trumpet fish that sputtered around the light from the deck. Jerry informed me that they were plankton eaters. I realized how many life forms depend upon microscopic plants for food. He informed me that plankton in the world seas created a great percentage of the oxygen needed for animal respiration. It makes you stop and wonder how important the ocean life is to humans, and how most people haven't any concept of that importance.

Well, after the last station I was going to sleep on an easygoing ocean. What a change from what I've experienced.

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