Icy Inverts 2004
Daily Journal of the R/V Laurence M. Gould
Dec. 12, 2004 --- Position  Lat/Long: S065° 16.975 W067° 05.712 (midnight)
[Wind: 1-2kn / Air Temp: -0.9C / Wind Chill: -0.9C /Depth: 696m / Seas 0 ft]
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The cycle du jour continues (with minor shuffling here and there), in the usual order of: CTD measurements, Tucker Trawls, Dive Ops, Plankton Tows, Smith-MacIntyre grabs, and Blake or Benthic Sled Trawls. One leads the decision as to how to approach the next. Photo1
November 2004
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December 2004
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 It is no small task, keeping all of these plates spinning and being sure to come home with as much sample and data as could possibly be needed for the next year and a half (Salp team comes to Antarctica again in February of 2006, Benthic group comes again in July of that year). There’s no, “Oops! Just one more thing…” once you start crossing the Drake Passage! As you can imagine, it is a huge job getting these cruises together, and shipping all of the equipment and supplies to Southern Chile in advance of loading the ship and crew. I am so impressed by the coordination and attention to detail. Some individuals of the group have done this many times, and see it as ‘no big deal’, but as a first-timer, believe me, these people are masterful at what they do. And to come onto the ship with a pack of individuals doing what they do with skill and schedules of their own – it’s like a well-oiled machine, all personalities aside and business first. (I have a feeling this is why the Palmer Station stop is left until the end, but I’ll have to wait until Friday to see how that pans out.)

Ken Halanych, as I said before, is the Chief Scientist of the cruise, and every detail in scheduling sampling stops runs through him and is worked out with the Captain and the Mates or helmsmen. Ken meets regularly on the Bridge, logically, because that’s where the navigational charts are, and it is all plotted on those big maps up there. [See Image] “X” marks the spot is as true today for these Pirates of Science as it was in the past with the “Aaaaargh, Matey” pirates of yore. (A few pieces of eight coming up with those benthic tows would be much appreciated, though, wouldn’t they, Ken?) Our stops are marked with X’s and numbers, a new number given for each Research Station. As of this writing, we have had nearly 80 stations. There will likely be over 100 by the time we’re back at Punta Arenas.

As for the weather, we’ve had another beautiful, flat calm evening. Lucky for us, we also have crystal clear skies, which makes for beautiful sunsets and sunrises down here (and they’re about an hour an a half apart!). Tonight was special, though, and a few ‘flash watchers’ were ready for it. Many of us have heard of the infamous ‘green flash’ that supposedly follows a clear sunset. Songs have been written and bars have been named for them. But do you know if they are real or just legend? Wehhhhhhllll, we have a winner with REAL tonight, folks!! It was not just the idle claims of sleep-drunk scope-focused no-life scientists who want to be heard in the real world, it really happened!! And there is a good reason that it is so likely to bee seen in the latitudes of the Southern Ocean – the sunsets and sunrises linger longer down here!! Modus operandi. Corpus delecti. Whatever it is, the method and opportunity are there.

Here’s the summary of the rationale for the green flash phenomenon as described in the Discovery Books “Explore Your World” handbook on Weather, 1999.

The “Green Flash” is the brilliant greenish coloration seen on the horizon, just above the rising or setting sun. The best conditions include a low, flat horizon, especially the ocean surface, and a clear sky (Bingo, Bingo and Bing-GO!). When the sun passes through the earth’s atmosphere, its light rays are refracted by dust particles creating a spectrum of colors (though some would argue that “clear” means clear and there must be no dust particles. We’ll have to do Prisms and the Bending of Light another day. Sun’s rays bend very nicely on a dusty prism in my house, thank you very much.). As the sun sets, those colors slip below the horizon too, starting at the red end of the spectrum. Green is the last in the series (not blue – blue particles are scattered, probably due to the blue in the sky or the ocean). In polar regions (do I hear a fourth Bingo???), more than a flash may be seen, because the sunsets and sunrises linger. (In 1929, Admiral Byrd’s expedition to Little America reportedly saw a green flash that lingered 30 minutes. Ironic that it should last longer than Little America did, is it not?)


And so, the Catch of the Day goes to Ken Halanych for his untouched photo of the Green Flash seen on this date, 12 December 2004. As for the people in Key West who are still waiting, keep pumping down those Margueritas, folks, ‘cuz we’ve seen the Real Deal here in Antarctica!!!

We are steaming off the Briscoe Islands of Renaud, Lavoisier and Watkins, heading for the Matha Strait and the Antarctic Circle. Will we make it? …….

Dinner Menu (shipboard, 12/12):

BBQ pork chops,
Chicken pot pie.