News from the Roll Tank (and the Flying Bridge)!

Our second leg began on July 30 as the Bigelow set sail under clear skies out of Newport, RI. While underway to the first transect line, we introduced ourselves and equipment was checked and readied. Just after lunch we arrived at our waypoint and began our first rotation. By dinnertime we had several sightings under our belts and were settling in to our new teams.

two dolphins jumping

Common dolphins. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC Peter Duley

Since then we have been treated to dozens of common dolphin porpoising and bowriding, seemingly intent on showing off their acrobatic skills along with their young. A calm sea gave us miles of water teeming with sharks- basking sharks, blue sharks, and others. An occasional billfish silently sliced the surface with its tall dorsal fin. Humpbacks have breached in the distance; a minke made a brief appearance off the bow. Risso’s dolphin have tried, and failed, to slip by unnoticed and striped dolphin have teased with an approach, only to turn and be off with a sassy tail-wag.

marlin in water

Marlin, a kind of billfish, seen cutting through the water. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC Richard Holt.

These first few days have provided simple pleasures and inspiration. Deep blue water has yielded new species for some of us, and what better place to break in a new camera? New faces have become a team as we get to know one another over meals and movies. Tonight there was a Stinky Sailor Party on the flying bridge with lots of laughter, mocktails, and cornhole matches for bragging rights. We had some unexpected visitors for the party as well. Scores of common dolphin leapt in the wake off of the stern and the blows of four fin whales punctuated the sunset.

scenic sunset

Sunset seen from the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC Todd Pusser.

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