August 21, 2005
I saw my first whale today! I woke up early today so that I could use the workout cubby- a small room with a stationary bike, weight machine and stair climber. I was on the bike looking out over the ocean when I saw a whale breach. What a great way to start the day!
Today was a crazy weather day! From 10:00A.M. to 3:00P.M. we had huge swells that seemingly came out of nowhere. They said on the bridge (3rd story of the boat) that the swells were only 8 feet but from the main deck looking at the swells looming over the boat, they seemed more like 10-12 feet. It was foggy but sunny, it was muggy but there was a cold breeze. Very weird. The Captain said that there weren't any storms in the area so he wasn't sure what was causing the swells or the sudden change in weather. As quickly and strangely as the weather came, it left. The fog rolled out, the swells disappeared and it became a beautiful day again.
I learned the computer part of the stations today. I controlled the movement and depth of the CTD and bongo nets from the CTD room inside the ship. It was a bit nerve-wracking knowing that the well-being of all that expensive equipment rested in my hands. Jerry sat with me through the whole station- a water sample and 2 bongo tows. We did 2 bongo tows because we were at George's Basin, which is really deep. We did the standard 200m tow (to use as a comparison to other tows from the trip) and we did a deep tow. The deep tow goes 5m from the ocean bottom- in this case 355m! The whole process took just over 2 hours because the water was so deep. As the controller, I had to communicate via a walkie-talkie with the winch operator to tell him when to reverse the winches (for the bongo tow) or when to stop the line and send down the messenger weight (for the water sample). All the information I needed to make those decisions came from 2 computer monitors- one showing me information being sent from the CTD (salinity, temperature, depth) and one showing me information being obtained from other systems on the ship, which include depth, location, surface temperature, time, etc. There was a lot to do at once but once you got into the groove, it wasn't hard to do.