July 31, 2006
Lat: 28° 15.3' N
Up until 0100 this morning with night op's. Net tow gremlins continue their fun and games. Then up at 0430 to operate the A frame. We did manage to get the Bongo net deployed, a pair of large round metal frames (approximately 21/2' in diameter), with nets about 8' long, ending at a removable "cod end" where the plankton is collected, then frozen or preserved in formalin for later analysis at SWFSC (Southwest Fisheries Science Center). What a bear it is to wrestle that Bongo back onto the deck! But the winch operators: Kevin, Tim, and Josh, do an awesome job, thereby making our lives much easier and allowing for our heads to remain attached to our bodies! Still having some issues with the Manta tow however.
Spent a total of 6 hrs today chasing 2 different small groups of sperm whales (aka Moby Dick), using both sightings and acoustic array. When they are down feeding you can hear them clicking away as they use their echolocation to bounce wavelengths of sound off their potential prey. Anyway, we got as close as about 500 m. from one of them before he dove again (after just coming up from an 80 minute dive!) What bizarre and impressive creatures they are; largest predators on earth! The ones we saw were probably 35 to 45 ft long. Also saw some bottlenose today.
Feeling much better, though I have been tired. Managed to get a workout in the "gym" (a small room, a bit like a cave, with a Boflex machine, and 4 pieces of aerobic equipment.) Though I'm sharing a quad with 3 other scientists, my berth is more spacious than I had imagined. I could have brought so much more stuff!
As we continue to make our way offshore, we're entering the pelagic desert, so it looks like things will be pretty quiet for a while. But that's life (or lack there-of). I'm taking the opportunity to begin interviews; I hope to interview all crew and scientists aboard.