July 1, 2003
There are many rules on a ship. After making my way to the main deck first thing in the morning, I made the mistake of making a move to pass through the mess area door toward the food lockers. NO! NO! I plan to learn all of the other rules very quickly. I had brought a bagel for breakfast, but other food was eventually served. After eating, the morning passed quickly with meeting people and an important safety lecture and film. We each had to practice putting on an immersion suit.
Lunch was a good communal time. I talked with Allan Cembella, the scientist who is mainly in charge of toxin extraction. The primary purpose of this cruise is to study the phytoplankton dinoflagellate, Alexandrium which produces some of the toxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisonings and red tides. Copepods feed on the toxic Alexandrium and right whales feed on the copepods. The hypothesis asserts that the health of the right whales are compromised by the paralytic toxins in that they might not be able to stay under water as long or dive as deep and are therefore exposed to more dangers at the surface. Also, there might be a link between the toxins and the drop in the calving rate of the North Atlantic Right whales who have changed their feeding area and may now be exposed to higher levels of toxins in the Bay of Fundy.
Allan would like to bring the two disciplines of biology and chemistry into closer alignment. Despite being a biologist, he has done mostly chemistry for the last 6 years. He is a wealth of information.
The afternoon was consumed in meetings of all scientific people on board. The scientist are busily trying to find the best way to meet the needs of all their various experiments. There are 15 people associated with science on board: 6 scientists (Greg Teegarden, Ted Durbin, Maria Casas, Bob Campbell, Maura Thomas, and Allan Cembella) a number of graduate students (Amy Delorenzo, Whit Saumweber, Howard Chang, Angie Allan, and Dave Taylor), two undergraduates (Melissa Barmon and Ben Westman), as well as Caroline Rodriguez who is doing an internship in environmental reporting and myself.
Dinner was delicious-swordfish, potatoes and fresh squash. Later, the first instruments were deployed with many first day problems. A CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) attached to an OPC (optical plankton counter) devise was deployed first, but had to be pulled back up and dropped again because the cable was wrapping incorrectly.
The MOCNESS (multi-opening and closing nets environmental sensing system) was supposed to go down around 7 pm, but ended up being placed in the water around 10 pm and then towed for quite a while.
When they pulled the MOCNESS up only the #2 net had opened successfully. This was a significant problem, but at least we had one good sample of copepods. All the grad students and some of the scientists started staring into microscopes in order to isolate the copepods for their experiments. Picking copepods became a mainstay of the cruise. They did not need my help so I went to bed.