June 28, 2004
After morning fuel operations, the McArthur II made its way through the Straits of Juan de Fuca. In the afternoon, the scientists began a practice watch rotation in preparation for beginning the official "trackline" on Tuesday morning. The protocol that we will be using for this survey is based on previous marine mammal surveys conducted by Dr. Jay Barlow, Chief Scientist of the SPLASH cruise, and Jon Calambokidas of Cascadia Research Inc. The watch schedule will be in effect during all "on effort" sightings, meaning those conducted while actively pursuing our trackline. If large aggregations of humpbacks are encountered, or other species of interest, the McArthur II will go "off effort" from the trackline, to allow the small boats AR-1 and AR-2 to deploy and all available hands will be employed for biopsy and photo ID efforts.
During the regular watch schedule, which begins each day at 6 AM and ends at 10 PM, three marine mammal observers are stationed on the flying bridge on a rotating basis. On the flying bridge are positioned two sets of powerful 25x reticled binoculars, known fondly to the observers as "Big Eyes." One set of "Big Eyes" is positioned on the port side and one on starboard, with a data recording station set up in the middle of the two. Once whales are sighted, they will be photographed and biopsied from the McArthur II, or, if warranted, one of two smaller boats will be deployed to approach the animals at closer range. Looking forward to seeing our first whales!
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