June 24-25, 2009
57° 26.33 N
Thursday was slow. Far in on the Bering shelf, the water was too shallow to be of interest and so no measurements were taken. The filtrations from the sediment traps deployed several days ago were starting to make some progress and I used the time to watch some of the other activities going on around the ship, take more pictures, and read (I am now halfway through a book about the 12-day manhunt for John Wilkes Booth).
Friday brought more work. I was up by 04:30 and down in the lab 15 minutes later. Station 46-NP9 was next. Pat and I sampled from the standard CTD for both POC and small volume thorium tests. I then helped Pat spike the samples with the reagents, and set them in the filter housing for the mandatory 1-hour reaction time. Thirty minutes later, the Prod CTD was in the water and I was back out in the garage gathering my seven samples for Dr. Lomas's phytoplankton project. I set up the filtrations and turned the pump on. These samples finished quicker than their predecessors and were done by 09:45.
By this time, St. Paul Island had come into view. The NP line, as its name suggests, was taking us right by the small island in the middle of the Bering Sea. Originally uninhabited, St. Paul became a center of the seal fur trade when the Russians forcefully moved some of the native Aleuts over from the Aleutian Islands as a source of labor. Now home to only 3-400 people the economy revolves around the fishing industry. Aside from the occasional mention on the "The Deadliest Catch," St. Paul Island is also known as a tourist destination to serious bird enthusiasts. Due to their isolation, some of the bird populations on the nearby islands have speciated and can be found nowhere else in the world.
We detoured from our line to make our way to St. Paul Harbor. A lot of people, including myself, were eager to see the first piece of land in eight days. Depending on the weather conditions (how much fog is present) this might be the last land I see until we put into Dutch Harbor in 18 days. One of the scientists on board the Thompson had to depart for home and was brought to the pier via the ship's Hurricane Boat. The whole detour and drop-off took about 90 minutes and soon we were back on track towards station 46-NP11.
The multi-core has been repaired and is back online gathering samples from the ocean floor. The seas have been relatively calm over the past few days and things are going smoothly. Our weekly safety meeting today reviewed the procedures for handling and disposal of haz mats (hazardous materials), and what to do in the event of a spill. During this meeting the captain informed us of a large low pressure system to the west of us that is tracking our way. It is due to hit us sometime Monday and will make life difficult for a couple of days. He said this one would hit us head on and be "as bad if not worse" than the last one, which was only "a glancing blow." That should be fun. I stopped taking my Bonine several days ago and have been fine but I might reconsider that decision tomorrow. I made my way back down the lab and cleaned up everything from the morning's filtrations. It was now about 15:30 and time for bed. Tonight was going to be a long night. I needed to be up by 22:00 to help prepare the sediment traps for deployment along the continental slope that was approaching. Four CTD casts will require sampling at this site as well which means it will be a long day.