Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

Argentinean Shelf (Sat., 5/8/10) – Over the shelf and into the Drake
by -- May 10th, 2010

We woke to a beautiful day on the Argentinean shelf, having dropped the pilot last evening and then completing our journey through the Straits of Magellan.

View from the ship

View from the ship

We spent the day traveling south-southeast along the coast of Argentina with favorable sea conditions and light winds. The early bird did get the worm – Ari got up early and headed out to the bow to see what he could see and he was treated to a sighting of hourglass dolphins. Others joined in the wildlife viewing from the bridge and the bow, and the only other marine mammal species seen was Peale’s dolphins – they gave a nice show off the bow. We also were treated to miles and miles of sea birds – mostly albatrosses and petrels, with the most dramatic being the wandering albatross, a small airplane of a bird!

Danielle Waples, Lindsey Peavey, Megan Dunphy-Daly and Reny Tyson

Danielle Waples, Lindsey Peavey, Megan Dunphy-Daly and Reny Tyson

Much of the day was spent continuing to make preparations for our work and getting oriented to the ship. Lab safety meeting followed by IT training (yes, this ship is so big it has its own IT department – well, the “department” is only two IT technicians but still!).  After lunch some of us met with the five marine technicians (MTs) to review our operational plans to make sure all the equipment is in place, tested, protocols set, etc. The technical crew on board the U.S. Antarctic research vessels is simply stellar, and the gang we have to work with promises to live up to and exceed that level this year – we have the five MTs, two ITs, two ETs (electronics technicians), one marine science technician, a sonar technician, and our marine project coordinator, Jamee Johnson, who was our MPC last year and we are thrilled to be working with her again.

Also again this year I am honored to be working with a gifted and hard working science team, with members from Duke, UMass Boston, Stonybrook, University of Hawaii, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Their talent and commitment to this project are truly impressive, and we are looking forward to five productive, exhausting, exciting and just plain fun weeks.

To get to our study site, though, we do indeed have to cross the Drake Passage, and as I write this blog entry the ship has started rolling a bit more, as if to warn us that larger seas are in our future. The captain and crew of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer (the RVIB stands for Research Vessel and Ice Breaker) are top notch, so we have little to fear as we hunker down and look forward to starting to work in a couple days. You can track our progress south and throughout the trip at www.sailwx.info and look for the link for research vessels.

2 Comments

  1. Maureen Dunphy
    May 10, 2010

    Wandering Albatross Size?

    Having been treated to a photo of one of the Wandering Albatrosses who crossed the ship’s path, inquiring minds are wondering how big a Wandering is?

  2. Gail Cannon
    May 14, 2010

    Roll, Baby, Roll!!!

    I am SO green. I hope you’re taking LOTs of pictures, Douggie Wugs!!!
    I’m working my butt off for Barbara and not having time for much else….
    Hurry home. When, BTW, will you be home???
    G

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