Pam Polloni

Research Assistant
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


RV Oceanus Cruise 93

(from Pam Polloni’s journal – Richard Haedrich and Pam Polloni returned to Oceanus to assist with the collection and identification of deep sea fishes and invertebrates, providing specimens for research conducted by Chief Scientist, D. Eugene Copeland and colleagues Jonathan Wittenberg, John Farrington, Vaughn T. Bowen, and others.)

28 March 1981

Departed Woods Hole at 1000 hrs, on 26 March 1981

We steamed south from Woods Hole to about 37dN in order to stream the new trawl wire in deep water. We crossed the Gulf Stream during the night of the 26th and came into heavy seas and showers. Had no problems streaming the wire to ~8000 mwo and re-spooling it but decided not to trawl in the area as even the empty trawl wire took a bad angle as we were being set to the eastward by Stream-related currents.

So we spent an uncomfortable afternoon and evening steaming back across the Gulf Stream to shallower water, arriving at ~0700 on Saturday 28 March – seas still ~5’–10’; a few breaks in the clouds. Our first two days with no work to do were spent reading, talking, and napping, as well as doing some eating. Discussions ranged from carp in Lake Erie and pollution clean-up in the Great Lakes with Bob Noble of Buffalo, who works on fish haemoglobins, to life in Newfoundland with Sally & Margaret & Richard, to life in Woods Hole with Joan Howard.

1800 hrs. First station at 3250 m brought a nice clean catch of Nematonurus, 2 zoarcids, 1 brotulid, and numerous invertebrates. The fishes were quickly disassembled & frozen. Physiologists and biochemists aboard extracted blood for haemoglobin study as well as swimbladder gases plus organs and other tissues for analysis. Hovey and I froze a bunch of invertebrates for VT Bowen and John Farrington. We also collected bored wood and wood chips with borer spat for Ruth Turner, freezing them to -80d C. Gastropods and a few bivalves were refrigerated for Mike Rex.

29 March

1300 hrs. Three successful tows in deep water yesterday kept everyone busy till 0130 this morning. We had a good rest and set the net at 0830 hrs, at 1830 m depth. Hauled back, just in time to nearly miss lunch, a nice collection of fishes & a few inverts – a number of Antimora & eels, a few alepocephalids, zoarcids, halosaurids, notacanthids, two tiny Lionurus, two small C. armatus. I helped Hovey pack specimens to freeze for Farrington and Bowen. The physiologists seem to have a system worked out and need little help from me. I think they could have gotten along without me on this trip.

Saw a gannet and a fulmar along with about 100 gulls today. It’s breezing up again and we may not get to trawl this PM. Sure miss Chris and Jonathan a lot and often feel quite out of place here. RLH brought all of our fish data but not the inverts & and I can’t always recall the names of things.


Made a successful red crab (Geryon) and Nezumia tow before supper. Things going pretty well. Caught a Greenland halibut.

30 March

Started 1st tow after breakfast at ~1800 m depth, for Lionurus. Got hung up on indurated clay ledge, but Mike backed up on the net as we hauled back wire & it came loose (8000 lb strain). Somehow we recovered a really good collection (found our second sea lamprey) and all the gear, but the net was badly torn.

Gene Copeland made a plankton tow while we rigged the new net, and after noon we set at ~1000 m for more Nezumia and hauled aboard a terrific collection of fishes including a second Greenland halibut & several nice brotulids.

Gus cooked some red crabs for lunch – a sort of boiled dinner with bay leaves & spices, celery, linguica, and Italian sausage. He served them up with dishes of melted butter. Delicious!

The people on this trip are really nice and work well as a team. Everyone helps haul in the cod end of the net & cheerfully shares the catch.

Late this afternoon we were shocked by the news of an attempted assassination of President Reagan. How strange to have been so unconcerned about news from home, except for the continual thought of family goings on, and suddenly be confronted by such terrible news. We listened to reports all through dinner – detailed presentations by Georgetown U. doctors describing the wounds and operating procedures.

2 April

We were busy towing during the past two days completing 15 trawls. Only two of them just skimmed the bottom & caught little. During these we were apparently caught in a surface current & towed too fast over the bottom, thus the net didn’t ever settle.

Today we had a bit of excitement. A Carl Wirsen/Holger Jannasch tripod was scheduled to trip at 0800 hrs and come up from Deep Ocean Station (DOS) II. Hovey set up a little contest for spotting it & a pool of guesses as to the time it would appear. At 0910 hrs I spotted it and won the prize. My cabin-mate, Sally, won the pool, ~$20. We picked up the tripod, but, as it was coming aboard, it hit the rail, and all but two cores were lost. Richard and I managed to cap the two that remained. Poor Hov had tried to fend off, but didn’t get much help from the two guys who had been instructed to hook on to the legs with long rods at the same time. Apparently they didn’t realize what might happen & how to prevent it. Next, Capt. Palmieri sighted a sperm whale spouting near the starboard quarter. Three of us went up on the bow to see it & got a fairly close view. Mike observed that the whale was wounded. We could see large patches of white skinless areas on its back, but no blood. It spouted frequently at ~20 second intervals and remained at the surface approximately 10 minutes. I made some notes on its position and behavior for Ollie Brazier.

Gene Copeland is making a final plankton tow, & then we’re heading for home!

I’ve been doing some reading; in fact everyone has given the ship a library-like atmosphere. Whenever the trawl isn’t being set, retrieved, or examined, most everyone is reading. The weather hasn’t been particularly warm or calm, the three movies on board were awful, so there’s little else to do. Anyway, I’ve read a novel by Henry Beetle Hough, The New England Story, written in 1950 about a writer trying to find out about the life of a particular whaling captain from “Dinton Port”, which must have been his name for a town on the Vineyard. Now I’m part way through the second book of the Sagas of Horatio Hornblower. Today as we were searching for the tripod, I was daydreaming about life as a sailor in the old days – how hard it was, how self-disciplined one had to be in order to survive. I was searching carefully having thought about our position relative to the tripod & what the captain would choose as our best possibility for seeing it. I chose to look to windward from the starboard wing of the bridge & like to think that it wasn’t just luck that I saw it first.

It’s beginning to rain as I sit here on the 01 deck, so I think I’ll go below and do some more reading.