|Scott Gallager, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), prepares his research equipment. In the background is Mark Dennett, also of WHOI.
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Photograph by Mark Christmas
April 25, 2001
Latitude: 55° 59 845 S
Longitude: 65° 10 946 W
Temperature: 4.7° C (40° F)
Wind: From the south at 24 knots
Seas: Gentle swell, no whitecaps.
The weather and seas today were wonderfully cooperative. After a very smooth passage through the Strait of Magellan and the Strait de la Maire, we are now in the Drake Passage. Were heading into the area of the Drake Passage that is not protected by islands to the west. Things could get interesting now.
Ari Friendlaender, from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), saw some Magellanic penguins and hourglass dolphins yesterday. Today he observed Commerson dolphins. Ari is here to count whales for the IWC. He also hopes to take some whale tissue samples for analysis. Ari uses a crossbow with a specialized tip to get the tissue samples.
Chris Ribic and Erik Chapman spent time on the bridge identifying seabirds. They saw gray-headed albatrosses, black browed albatrosses, wandering albatross, Antarctic fulmars, Cape petrels, white chinned petrels, greater shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, and fairy prions. They have not yet begun their recording of the numbers and types of birds. That will begin after we have crossed the Drake Passage. I can pick out three of these birds now thanks to the patience of Chris and Erik.
Marine Technician (MT) Jessie Doren led a deck safety class on the working deck. The working deck is the aft portion of the main deck from which BIOMAPER and other pieces of equipment are deployed. The safety basics: never go on deck alone, wear a float coat or a float suit, wear a hard hat, be extremely aware of your surroundings as there are heavy winch cables under tension, and dont be on deck unless you are part of the working team.
Systems are still being tested. The BIOMAPER group is busy trying to locate the source of noise affecting their video signal. The SeaRover ROV had its buoyancy adjusted before we left the dock in Punta Arenas. The 1-meter MOCNESS has been fitted with a new strobe system.
Tomorrow afternoon, we should pass the 200 mile territorial boundary of Argentina and begin testing the sonobuoys used to listen for whales. Well also deploy the CTD. The mood among the crew is very upbeat. Three days ago we were acquaintancesnow were shipmates.
Check back tomorrow to see how the sonobuoy and CTD test went and Ill introduce some of the other team members.
Mark Christmas, nationalgeographic.com field producer
Have a question for Mark or the SeaLab team about the expedition or life at sea in Antarctica? In every dispatch, Mark will answer selected questions from readers.
[Note: nationalgeographic.com does not research or copyedit dispatches.]
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