|Icy Inverts 2004|
|Daily Journal of the R/V Laurence M. Gould|
|Dec. 11, 2004 --- Position Lat/Long: S064° 23.595 W064° 35.263 (midnight) |
[Wind: S 14-16kn / Air Temp: -0.7C / Wind Chill: -13.1C /Depth: 236m / Seas 2-3 ft]
|The plankton tows did have a high yield, but we had a sparkling day to work outside! [See Image 1] We did a Blake trawl and retrieved many good samples. It was a lot of sorting, chopping and putting into tubes, bags, tinfoil, but we got a lot put away in the coffers.|| Photo1 || |
My job? I am (said like Ahhhhnold would) the “Fohmulatohr”. And if there’s another trawl, “Ahh’ll be baahhck!”.
There’s ice beyond icebergs in the water today, which means a layer of pancake or just slushy-looking ice on the top of the ocean. The seawater needs to be –1.8degrees Centigrade to freeze, so you know it’s cooooold. But it is very calm, and we can see for miles. Off in the far distance, the humongous icebergs [See Image 2] lined up along the horizon look almost like a city skyline. Really. You don’t even need to squint. Although we’ve been cruising down the coast outside of the islands, today we were looking at the actual Continent. I’ll introduce myself visually today. Voila, your humble Cruise Commentator, Ellen Bailey, and The Antarctic Continent. [See Image 3]
The dive team went out at midnight, right at the edge of the ice line. At first we could see the zodiac at the border, then it crept into the chunky ice blanket. I gather it’s quite an experience to dive under ice – very quiet, and the light is better than you’d expect. But a bit more difficult to know which way is up? Sandy had a story (naturally, and thank goodness!) after this dive. He said he was going along in the regular pattern of scanning the blue waters for salps, when he saw a couple of gelatinous creatures drifting below him. He followed, but came to the end of his tether. Darn that. But as he watched, one rolled over and ….it was a collecting jar! It was actually one of two that were just sinking, sinking, into the abyss. Awww. A little later, he hadn’t seen any salps, but saw another critter that looked a little like a fuzzy caterpillar floating by, which he adeptly captured in a jar. He brought it up close to see what it was and… penguin poop!!! I was a little disappointed when he told me he …set it free. It might have made an interesting Catch of the Day, don’t you think?
Well, the penguin factor was evident from above the water as well. As the zodiac was coming in from the dive, we could see a group of about 15 penguins merrily swimming next to the little inflatable black boat, looking as if they were attached (have you ever seen a wedding car with strings of tin cans tied to it?). Do you think they thought it was just a big one of their own? When penguins swim, they look like tiny black dolphins, arcing over and under the water’s surface. (For those of you who know Erich Horgan, ask him to do his impression of penguin calls.)
The sunset/sunrise time was beautiful with 360 degrees of color on a flat sea and clear sky.
The water that evening at sunset (and sunrise – they come very close to each other) was aptly described by Ken Halanych as looking ‘like purple satin’, shimmering with pink hues blending, and barely a ripple all the way to the horizon. It was mesmerizing. [See Image 4] A couple of people claimed to see a “green flash” at the final moment of sunset, but many of us were skeptical. Well, if the weather stays like this, we’ll be more diligent on monitoring that phenomenon tomorrow…. “Green Flash” - Truth, or Urban Legend??