April 28, 2009
Thank goodness for my handwarmers! When I found out I was selected for this project in Antarctica, one of my students, Evan East, brought me a bag full of handwarmers! They have been the greatest, as I am standing out on deck during the fish trawls or bringing in the fish pots. With temps below freezing, my hands seem to get the coldest first because the neoprene gloves that keep your hands dry, but not so warm. I guess it is a decent trade off for keeping them dry! Fortunately the wind has died down from our shift yesterday from 40 knots to 7 knots. I am on the midnight to noon again, but got more sleep last night. We continued our trawling and pulled up a few fish with each trawl. We were pulling in a constant number of the species known as G. gibberifrons (or "gibbis" as we call them; Dr. Crockett’s favorites), so we began to throw most of those back. In between trawls, we all seemed to catch a few minutes of sleep here and there, but the seas started to swell and we had a few events that cleared anything on the counters straight to the floor! So it started to be a challenge just to hang on!
The Marine Technicians (MTs) consistently impress me with the range of tasks they perform. From communicating and coordinating the scientists, crew and captain to pulling in the pots in 40 knot winds to keeping machinery in working order. They definitely wear many hats – even the "bird rescuer" hat. About three petrels ended up on deck in the night, apparently due to the bright lights we were working under confusing them. The MTs would simply help them out overboard where they would fly off again. It was amazing!
Dr. Crockett took some video of our final trawl during my shift and the sun actually started to come out of the clouds. We pulled in a few more fish and captured images of the incredible invertebrates that come up with each trawl. In the afternoon, I got to take some video footage of the fish pot collection from the 02 deck. The wind was whipping up there, but I was bundled with many layers of my ECW gear. Each pot had lots of fish and the stocks were slowly building. This was going to be our last day of this fishing trip, as we are headed back to Palmer to swap out with the whale tagging team and start our experiments on the fish in the lab. At 8:00 p.m. I finally crashed from my two nights of midnight to noon shifts and slept like a log!