Burning the Midnight Oil

41 33.05 N
69 22.87 W
12:30 AM

Rough seas on the Atlantic. Photo credit: Amalia Aruda/NOAA

This is Nadine, writing to you during the night shift.  Although the Delaware II is far from quiet, (there are lots of fans and lights and instruments buzzing), it is peaceful in the usually bustling dry lab because most folks on the ship are sleeping.  Yesterday morning we awoke to the sound of the anchor chain being hauled in, and the Delaware II immediately began pitching and rolling in large waves and high winds.  The wind quieted throughout the day, and by late afternoon the waters were calm.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset and the ocean began to look more like it was made of liquid mercury than seawater.

Sun setting on the ocean, as viewed from the Delaware II. Photo credit: Amalia Aruda/NOAA

We’ve been completing an anchor station over the last 48 hours, although the ship isn’t actually at anchor.  Yesterday morning we set 4 RATS (real-time-acoustic-tracking-system) buoys in a square array.

Mark deploys RATS buoy

Then the captain positioned the Delaware II in the middle of the buoys.  The buoys are recording whale vocalizations and other sources of noise in the water.  Aboard the Delaware II, while keeping in the center of the RATS array, we are collecting data about seawater, zooplankton, and whales.  Lisa, Alison, Beth, and Clay spent the past 2 days up on the flying bridge scanning for and counting whales around the ship.  They deserve a round of applause, because it has been very cold and windy up there!  Mark, Sarah, Amalia, and I took turns operating a small arsenal of oceanographic instruments that are housed in a large metal cage.  Every 30 minutes, we lower the cage to the seafloor, all the while measuring the temperature and salinity of the water, collecting a count of particles in the water column, and photographing zooplankton with an underwater microscope.  The wonderful and capable crew of the Delaware II helped us complete nearly100 casts with our cage at this station!

We have plans to launch Boo early tomorrow morning to pick up the buoys, but first we have a night of instrument casts to complete.

Bringing instrument cage aboard at sunset. Photo credit: Amalia Aruda/NOAA

5 thoughts on “Burning the Midnight Oil

  1. Thank you so much for the updates! This blog is pretty cool! Miss being out there with you guys, but I hope you continue to have a great cruise.

    Dos 🙂

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