August 27, 2009
Latitude: N 42° 15' 83"
Today was an interesting, great, and frustrating day. It started off as normal with a 5:40 am station that our watch took over at 6. We worked a second station that included a second attempt for Alison's Bottom Grab, which is used to collect sediment. The depth at both stations was over 300 meters or around 1000 feet deep so it took a long time for equipment to reach the ocean floor and then return.
While sailing between stations, Claire, a NOAA Officer called down by radio from the bridge to let me know there were whales about. She knew I really wanted to see one. I went to the bridge to look but the whale had moved too far away to see. I left the bridge only to quickly be recalled as more whales appeared. The way you see a whale is watching for it to spout. Soon I was watching spouts appear everywhere. Eventually I spotted a spout of watery mist 100 yards to starboard and saw a finback whale. After that it was time to work the second station.
It was at the second station that my day got even better. We could see whales spouting around us while we did the rosette and the sediment grab. While everyone collected water or collected sediment out of the grab, I put the bongos in place for the tow then turned toward the stern to watch for whales and wait to work the bongo tow. I cannot describe my emotions as I saw a whale breech 20 yards behind the stern of the boat!!!! Everyone was busy so I just videotaped the whales (Pilot or Minke) as they played around the boat for 10 minutes. All I can say is WOW!
Then the day got frustrating. The rosette had communication problems and as I am writing this I do not know if it is working correctly. Will, one of the technicians on board, has been working on the problem and I hope it has been solved.
I then spent the afternoon checking my students' work on the school's Moodle account. This was "student ask the teacher a question about the trip" day and there were a number of questions to answer. Some student questions confirmed that at least some of the students are reading these journal entries. Their questions were based on information only found in the ARMADA journals for this expedition. This work qualified as fun.
Student Question: How can you tell the difference between a Pilot whale and a Minke whale?
Bonus Information: If you want to see the track of the Delaware II for this trip go to NOAA shiptracker and find the Delaware II.