August 31/September 1, 2005
I really hope the sea calms down soon so we get back to surveying cetaceans. The high winds, swells, and waves have had us off effort for a few days now, not to mention almost off our feet! The rocking and rolling of the ship makes it a little difficult to stand still or walk straight. It is best to always keep at least one hand free to grab a rail or something stable just in case the ship gets slammed by a wave or we hit a big swell. I have to admit that the motion of the ship during the last few days has made my stomach feel a little uneasy!
There are quite a few ways to occupy time on the Jordan while being off effort, and over the past few days, I think I have done all of them! I have read two books and watched about a half dozen movies. The ship's lounge has hundreds of movies on 8mm film, which are on loan from the US Navy. There is also a wide selection of books to read ranging from fictional novels to scientific journal articles. A television on the mess deck can pick up reception when we are within a couple of hundred miles from the coastline.
When the weather conditions are poor, the ship must go a little slower due to the swells and waves. This is the perfect time to do some fishing. According to Chief Boatswain Chico Gomez, the best speed to catch albacore tuna is about 6-7 knots. Many of the crew members and a couple of the scientists have lines tossed over the stern. In the past few days, they have caught over two dozen albacore. The fish are filleted and sometimes cooked right on the spot. I have had the opportunity to taste tuna blackened, marinated, grilled, smoked, fried, and even raw.
There is always someone to talk with on the Jordan because we are, as the saying goes, all in the same boat! Sometimes I just walk around to find out what people are doing. I usually stop by the bridge to talk with the officers about our course and coordinates. I also work on my knot tying with watch standers Joal Alves or Victor Pinones. Then, I'll wander by the dry lab to watch Annie sort out digital photos or Cornelia do her artwork. I may make a stop by my stateroom to find Laura doing origami. Liz and Candy are usually busy in the lab doing oceanography work and are always willing to share what they are up to. Then I head out to the aft deck to see who is catching all the fish. Soon, I'll make my way to the mess deck to talk with others who have also decided to eat some of Lito and Mike's fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. I have learned a lot about my shipmates and life on the David Starr Jordan.
So what do I do when I get tired of all of that? I could exercise in the workout room, but I usually choose to snooze! Being off effort has allowed me to sleep late and not have to worry about missing any cetacean sightings while doing so!
Life at sea has been very interesting and rewarding for me both personally and professionally. I thoroughly enjoy observing wildlife, and I don't know if I will ever get another opportunity to see marine mammals like this again. This cruise has taught me a great deal about cetaceans and how marine mammal surveys are conducted. I look forward to creating lessons for my classroom and teaching my students what I have learned on this CSCAPE cruise.