May 13, 2009
The outlook for fishing was bleak, as the total for the entire noon to midnight shift was 12 fish from the trawls. At 12:52 a.m., we pulled up our first one of the night and collected eight fish, the second trawl we pulled 14 fish and the third - 35 fish! Boy, were we wrong about a bleak outlook! The birds around had a sense about it, too - they had come in droves to pick the bycatch up as it was thrown overboard. Many ended up on the deck for the buffet as well. Mostly the birds were the snow petrels, which look just like big white doves and the cape petrels. The temperature was actually just above freezing when we started the night and the seas were very calm and the moon peeked out of the clouds for a while. We got some large snow flurries at around 2 a.m. Two "dragonfish" of the family known as Bathydraconidae (Parachaenichthys charcoti) were caught on the shift before ours - beautiful Antarctic fish with long jaws and light orange markings. Another neat thing we pulled in was a rock with fish eggs attached to it. There is not a lot known about the life cycle of these fish, so this was an interesting find. Kristin, Lisa and I have sorted out our positions when we get ready to pull in the trawls - Lisa operates the wench because her wrist is still in the brace from her fall on the ice at Palmer Station, I hook the incoming trawl to the support and Kristin unhooks the wench rope and gets it to Julie and Dan to attach to the second leg of the trawl net. Once the net is opened, we all rush to get the fish out of the mass of invertebrates and sometimes rocks that are packed in the net. Then we get them to the aquarium room and into the separate tanks for each species. We clear the deck of the bycatch as quickly as possible and then reset the net. Then we go back to the lab, record our catch on the logs and get out of our deck layers (hard hat, neoprene gloves and float coats) and get set to record latitude and longitude data for the next trawl. In between trawls (about 40 minutes), we either occupy ourselves with watching a movie on my laptop, getting coffee, reading, catching a catnap (we usually loose Lisa at about 4 a.m. to this!) or crossword puzzles. Kristin has successfully gotten me hooked on these puzzles. She said that she and her husband do them weekly Monday through Thursday. I told her that I don't normally do them and the next thing I know, I am trying to finish them! Once breakfast comes around at 7:30 a.m., more people start to move about and then it is easier to stay awake until noon and Bruce and Jody take over. We plan to fish tonight for a while and then head back to Palmer to switch out with the whale team's departure on Friday morning. Gotta go get the next trawl in!