July 31, 2006
Up at 4:30 to do my CTD job, it is kind of like "ground hog day", the same routine and time each day. The pleasant smiles of everybody make this job easy to do. I actually love this job.
After breakfast I was on the back deck checking the crew's fishing lines. These are lines attached to the back of the ship with a fishing lure dragging about 100 feet behind the ship. The crew puts them out at sunrise and brings them in at sunset. I noticed the lines were taught and I was the only one on the back deck. I started pulling the fish in, I had no idea what was on the end of the line, halfway in the fish got off. I immediately grabbed the second line and pulled faster, as the fish came out of the water and into the ship, what a rush. I had caught my first 25 pound yellow fin tuna. As I was holding the fish for everyone to see I kept hearing "sashimi tonight." I wondered what in the heck is sashimi. I did find out, it is raw fish with a little wasabi , which is a green horseradish sauce. I tried sashimi that night because it was my fish, not bad - but I do think it will take some time to acquire a taste.
Bob Pitman took the time to show me how to collect the fish samples. After gutting the fish we removed the stomach, a small piece of liver, and some muscle tissue. We recorded the latitude and longitude and the sex of the fish. We froze the samples for Bob Olsen back at the fisheries lab in San Diego. We then filleted the fish for dinner that night. I have found a new job, the bottom line, I love to be useful!
The small boat was put in for the first time and I was asked to go along and biopsy a group of pilot whales. Chasing these magnificent creatures and shooting them with a crossbow for a tissue sample is hard to describe by just using words. The whales did not seem too bothered by the arrows and they did keep surfacing around us. This whole process took about 1 hour and I returned to the ship with the tissue samples.
The rest of the afternoon I was busy catching yellow fin tuna and taking the samples. The sunset was incredible, the colors brilliant, the show hard to describe. Bob Pitman called a meeting at sunset. He expressed his feelings concerning the cruise so far. He was more than pleased how the staff was working, he was proud of the staff and I smiled inside, knowing I am part of a really special team.
I was looking forward to the squid fishing as soon as I could get the CTD unit in the water. The ship stops for about 1 hour as the CTD is deployed. The lights go on and out come the squid fisherman. A jig is used and these giant squid are attracted to the light, normally living 1000 meters down they come up at night to feed. We caught 20 huge squid; they fight harder than any game fish I have ever caught. I hooked a 45 pound squid and could not figure out why I was having such a hard time landing him, when he broke the surface there was another squid cannibalizing him on the way up. I was actually pulling up 2 squid, the other disappeared and I was able to land my squid. Iliana Ruiz-Cooley, the squid biologist, then took over, taking stomachs, beaks, muscle, and gonad samples and freezing them. We also weighed and measured each squid; this whole process took until 2:30 am. I had to get up at 4:30 so I did not get much sleep that night. I figure I have the school year to catch up on my sleep; squid like this cannot be missed.