Dispatch: June 10, 2006 - We return to the Drake Passage and head North

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Day's Menu: Roast beef, ham mac & cheese, carrots, asparagus, rolls, onion soup, salad; Stuffed Pork chops, hot chix wings, Spanish rice, carrots, soup, Birthday cake, bread pudding, and cookies

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We have turned the corner at King George I., the final South Shetland Island that we’ll be seeing, and are heading north across the Drake Passage. With winds in the low 30s and seas a mere 12 feet, we are having a pretty nice ride – for The Drake. It’s quite overcast but the view from the Bridge, about 48 feet up from the water level, can be fantastic at times, especially when the occasional really big roller gets under us and gives us a “ride”. I figure it’s better for me to be up there seeing the waves coming than it is down below where, as I sit here, the calendar on the wall keeps sliding right, then left, then right… whoooaaa, Big Fella!

Plankton Tow #54 at Station 62 was done at 8:30 a.m., the first in a series planned for the crossing. The plan is to stop every 4 hours, head the ship into the wind, and tow the plankton net for about 20 minutes. Thus far, sample volume has been small, but the larvae are always telling. So, whatever is pulled in is valuable information for the Plankton Team. We’re hoping the weather stays this good, because this is just about as rough as the procedure will allow.

XBTs resume - Also along the way, Max Nikurashin is firing off regular XBTs for another try at getting a clean section of the temperatures and salinity in the Drake. Four weeks ago, he had to suspend XBTs due to heavy weather on the trip over, and the section mapping the Drake has a large gap. Cross your fingers so this one will be …prettier. Max has been quite successful in mapping other areas in this trip.

Getting To Know You – Ethnic Diversity on LMG06-05
As with most jobs, there is a cross section of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds at hand. It is interesting to see the broad spectrum of ethnic origins in this floating microcosm.

Of “47 SOB” (i.e., ‘Souls On Board’, which includes science and ship’s crew), we have:
31 US citizens
2 Canadians
2 UK (royal subjects)
2 Russians
1 Argentine
2 Chileans
1 Australian
6 Philippinos

It has been very interesting learning to communicate (and we do communicate effectively, or the job would not be getting done) and getting to know people despite the language barriers (especially that Australian one!). If you are interested in other people, other cultures, other places, try going to sea and you will appreciate a lot of learning in close quarters in a short time.

Back to the Science

After Dinner Talks – Several people have signed up to give short overview talks on the science they’ve accomplished while on this trip. We’ve scheduled 4 per night. Tonight’s slate:


Chris Mah and his prize Labidiaster with which he plans 'to take over the world!!' (Photo by Ellen Bailey)

Chris Mah spoke on his interest in the taxonomy and collection of asteroids. His small collection of dried specimens from this trip will perhaps land in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s archives. (That is, if they get past the dogs at the airport. Phew!! Good thing he’s drying them in the Engine Room!! Just kidding, Paul!)





Morris Cohen described some of the work he did at Palmer station with the instrument gathering data from lightning strikes on the earth's surface - pops, whines and whistles. He played some sound bytes for us as well.





Will Jaeckle has gone a step further from the last cruise when he was studying nutritional transport in planktonic starfish. This trip he is looking at the same process, but in spionid worm and pilidium larvae.





Nerida Wilson continues to look at the distribution and genetic links in crinoids from Antarctic waters. She is also continuing her study of the charismatic shell-less snails, nudibranchs.


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Last updated May 30, 2006
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