The Gould was shined up and covered in a fresh coat of paint when I first boarded on the 20th. Ahhh, that means she’s anticipating a new adventure, just like me!
We pushed off yesterday morning (21 April) and waved good-bye to Punta Arenas, the quaint port town that has been very kind to us while we shuffle our science equipment, personal gear and ourselves onto the ship: yummy food & wine, pleasant people & atmosphere, and a lucky toe to rub (see photo album).
The Duke Marine Lab whale team has been (mostly) calmly anticipating this cruise for months now. No one more so than Principle Investigator, Ari Friedlaender. This project is his baby and he is chomping at the bit to see the orchestration in action. Not long now.
Anticipation is the theme of the hour and will remain so for the next few dozen hours. We were all anticipating moving onto the ship when we were staying at hotel Finis Terrae and enjoying exploring Punta Arenas in between cruise-prep activities. All the waiting is finally over and we are now officially on Day 2 of 51.
Here are just some daily reminders that the cruise we’ve been anticipating is finally here:
– the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeating approximately every four hours (or less)
– my activities largely revolve around three square meals (0730, 1130 and 1730 sharp)
– guaranteed delicious baked deserts at every lunch and dinner (and 10 extra lbs by the end of the cruise)
– anxiously awaiting 3 email drops a day
Now that we are underway, we are anticipating the operations of the many facets of the project: visual observations, tag deployment, prey mapping, spatial analysis, and multi-dimensional visual simulations of the ‘big picture’. Will we find as many whales as we hope? Will tagging go smoothly? Will the ‘hammer tow’ survive battles with giant blocks of ice? And the anticipation builds…
But wait; first things first. Right now, we are all anticipating seasickness. Personally, I’ve never been seasick. And I am anticipating seasickness, too. The Drake Passage is the area of sea that buffers Antarctica from South America. When plagued with low-pressure systems, it is notorious for extremely rough weather, and rumor has it that there’s a low passing through. If they hadn’t started already, most of the scientists on board started popping seasickness preventatives last night. Myself included. Stay tuned to read about what we encounter in the dreaded Drake. Welcome aboard!