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Journals 2008/2009

Heather Judkins
Seminole High School, Seminole, FL

"ORCAWALE-ORegon, CAlifornia, WAshington, Line-Transect and Ecosystem-Marine Mammal Survey"
NOAA R/V McArthur II
July 28, 2008 - August 30, 2008
Journal Index:
July 28 - 30 - 31
August 3 - 6 - 9 - 11 - 12 - 15 - 16 - 19 - 21

August 21, 2008
The Final Flight Home

We arrived in Newport, Oregon at 3:30pm on Tuesday afternoon. We had wrapped up the research end of things around noon with an exciting finale. I was literally in the middle of lunch when over the intercom came the announcement that there was a whale repeatedly breaching off our starboard bow. I probably looked like a fool but I ditched my dishes in the galley, swung by room for my video camera and raced outside.

As I walked to the bow, a 45-foot humpback whale was breaching about 250 meters off to the right-hand side of the ship. I have seen many whales on this trip but none breaching as this one was! It would take two to three breaths at the surface, disappear for a minute, and then come leaping out of the water, creating a huge splash on its way back down. It was the most I have seen of this species to date. Everyone was out, watching it breach for about 15 minutes. Plenty of time for great pictures and some video. I had known that barnacles would attach themselves to whales but what I learned form this animal was that some of the barnacles actually hung off the animal, not just single animals as I had first thought. Always something to learn out here!

Breaching Humpback Whale- picture by Sophie Webb

Once we docked, we were free to explore Newport. There were some things to be done as in cleaning the dry and wet lab, packing for those of us not staying aboard for the next leg, and the shopping lists were created of things that were needed for the next part of the adventure.

I can't express enough my gratitude and thanks to all of those who helped me make this dream of a repeat research cruise come true- from my friends watching my house back in Tampa, the amazing crew of the McArthur II always willing to help with anything, and the hardworking and fun scientists I met while onboard. I have found that I have a difficult time transitioning from these adventures back to my life in Tampa. I absolutely love the research going on and sometimes wish that I could be sailing the seas for the four month cruises. At the same time, I wouldn't know what to do if I couldn't teach marine science at my school back at home with family and friends. This was the first time in 15 years that I missed the first day with my students and it doesn't feel quite right. I know that I will continue to look for the opportunity to get onboard for research as it fits into my schedule... It truly keeps me riveted to marine science and I am always on the quest for more of it!