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Stormy Seas and Starry Nights 12/13/2012: Noura Randle

Jordan Young and Laura Spencer taking in the surreal flat seascape.

After enjoying several days sampling in the southern edge of U.S. waters, we headed north sampling one the longest transects so far on the trip. The weather in the southern edge was tranquil with water so smooth it looked surreal. Using the CTD we determined visibility at 35m with crystal blue water as far as the eye could see. However, as this cruise was for research and not pleasure, we turned around toward unsampled territory and headed into less than ideal conditions.

The WHOI CTD starting its descent into clear water

Nonexistent swells turned into 2-3ft swells in one shift and then 3-5ft swells for our following shift, meaning I was about eye level with some of the wave crests as I stood out on deck. The 11th was probably the most miserable day of sampling we had so far. After pulling the CTD on board we secured it, put the boards back up to complete the deckside and then start sampling.

Storm edge at sea.

As a courtesy, our captain Max continued on at half speed while we sampled in order to not lose precious time and unfortunately for us, our heading was straight into the wind. This meant that the rain was being blown into our faces with the occasional wave washing over the deck. All this added to the experience of sampling 4°C water – cold enough to hurt as you let the bottle overflow for 30 seconds. Although trying, it was not impossible and validated my procurement of waterproof gear.

Sleeping that night proved interesting as my berth is close to the bow  which meant I got to experience a lot of the vertical motion. The bow would catch air as it went over the crest of wave and for quiet moment it was if I was levitating in my bunk feeling completely weightless down to my toes. The next morning the storm had passed, and although the air was still crisp, the wind had died down a bit and the clouds had broken to reveal a clear sky.

Night sky and sea.

The last 3 hours of our shift we got a break as the next station was a 4 hour steam away. Jordan and I took the time to play cards while Laura went to visit the bow. A few minutes later she returned excited about witnessing bioluminescence and without much effort convinced Jordan and I to go outside with her. Stumbling up the bridge and out on to the bow, Laura was excellent at guiding us around obstacles as we waited for our eyes to adjust. Peeking over the side we could see the little green sparks generated by the hull slicing through the water. Its amazing to think that tiny single celled dinoflagellates are responsible for creating this phenomenon of riding on fairy dust.

There can never too many photos of sunset at sea.

The sky was so clear, and though surrounded by lit rigs, we could clearly see the Milky Way arching over our heads and meteorites streaking across the sky in a celestial fireworks show. Though it was cold, and I was not wearing as many layers as I would have liked for this outing, I was transfixed. We ended up going on to the O-2 deck (highest deck we are allowed access) to watch the stars.

Laura and I stayed out the longest, reminiscing over past stargazing moments. Laura remembered lying out on her trampoline in her the backyard with high school friends and I thought back on the first time I really saw the Milky Way riding in an open safari vehicle through a wildlife park in Tanzania. Anne Lovely finally finished running samples and chose to join us, almost not believing we’d still be out after 3 hours. Eventually the cold won out and we retired to our bunks. Though it seems like getting 12 hours off each day is long time, you end up easily sleeping away 10 of those hours.

Previous Posts

3000 Meters from Home 12/13/2012: Laura Spencer, Noura Randle, Jordan Young

A simple experiment was completed during our cruise on the Gulf to help teach student some interesting aspects of the ocean and to invigorate the idea of science at a young age. Students from College Station and Avery, TX all decorated cups for our cruise. Each student was given a Styrofoam cup or a large [...]

Life Away From Home 12/12/2012: Alison Smyth

One of the hardest things about being on the ship is being away from home.  I felt a little bit closer to my friends and family in the States yesterday as the cold front that has been cooling much of the central US arrived at our location.  The weather changed from calm, clear, bright skies [...]

From the Night Watch 12/8/2012: Ivan Maulana

The night watch (0015 to 1215) begins with waking up in the small, simple, but comfortable cabins. You can often hear the outgoing watch gathered in the galley one deck above the cabins, after 12 hours of work. This is where we gather for meals or to unwind and watch TV. First stop, the notice [...]

Wahoo/barracuda sighting 12/7/2012: Jordan Young

I woke up this morning to a frantic call from Ivan.  He came barreling in to our room 4 hours before my shift started, awakening me with a loud message.  “Jordan! Jordan! There’s a Wahoo circling the boat! Get up!”  I jump up from a sound sleep and rush to the stern deck.  As I [...]

The Night Shift has more fun 12/1/2012: Laura Spencer

Tonight Jordan made his first catch of the trip: a cute little squid! He also managed to net 3 beautiful flying fish that were hanging around a large Sargassum (seaweed) patch. A piece of Sargassum was brought on board and put in a bottle, and amazingly 3 tiny sargassum fish were found hiding inside! The [...]

Tracer found in samples 11/29/2012: Laura Spencer

Today was really exciting because the Chief Scientist Dr. Jim Ledwell found tracer in some samples! Dr. Ledwell has a very elaborate tracer detection system set up in the wet lab on the boat. He and his assistants Ann and Leah have been working extremely hard to set up and operate this system and they [...]

First cast 11/28/2012: Laura Spencer

Today we sampled our first official cast of the CTD. A CTD is a conductivity, temperature, and depth profiler that we use to record the values of conductivity, temperature, depth, salinity, pressure, fluorescence, and sometimes other parameters in the ocean. The big bottles on the CTD capture water from a specific depth that we pick [...]

Noon to midnight shift 11/28/2012: Noura Randle

First test cast went down without a hitch. To ensure that the TAMU CTD will seal tight at depth we did a test cast and had all the Niskin bottles deploy at 1036m. The waves were pretty high, averaging around 5-6ft. Two more casts were deployed before the day was out and as we waited [...]

College Station to Pre Jeans 11/27/2012: Laura Spencer

Our first day of traveling went really well. We were able to head out of town by 7:30 a.m. on our way to Cocodrie, Louisiana. We stopped at a wonderful little cajun restaurant for lunch: Pre Jeans in Lafayette. The drive went well, except for the torrential downpour right before Lafayette. We arrived at LUMCON [...]

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