July 9, 2009
61° 14.71 N
I woke up at 05:30 just in case we had to sample from the morning CTD cast at station 155-70M51. We didn't but since I was up I helped Matt conduct his spatial sampling and filtering for pigments that he needed to do for Mike Lomas of BIOS. It did not take long for the two of us to complete the filtrations in the stable isotope lab and a day's work was done well before lunch. There is not much else to be done right now. We still have two more production stations to sample at, on Saturday and Monday mornings, so we can't start packing up yet. For most of the science teams the vast majority of the equipment will stay on board the Thompson till she reaches her homeport of Seattle several days after departing Dutch. There everything will be packaged onto pallets, offloaded by cranes, and transferred to trailers that will be driven to their final destinations.
St. Matthew's Island was now coming into full view, about 15 nautical miles off our port side. David Shull had brought his Canon digital SLR equipment with him for the trip as well so we swapped lenses for the afternoon. I borrowed his 7-200 f4L telephoto lens and set out to capture some of the bird life that inhabits the northern Bering Sea and David took my wide angle 17-40 f4L.
Most of the birds were extremely cooperative. Murres, fulmars, and kittiwakes all flew by close enough to capture a decent photo, except for the puffin. These chubby little birds, frantically flapping their wings to stay aloft, consistently stayed just out of the range of my lens. There are two types of puffins, tufted and horned, both equally uncooperative with getting their pictures taken. The Horned Puffins are black with white bellies and heads. The Tufted Puffins have bodies that are entirely black and some white on their heads along with some extra colorful feathers. Both species have the characteristic bright beaks and orange feet. The best picture I was able to get was the rear end of a horned puffin as it turned away from my camera. Oh, well.