July 28, 2008
It has been a busy few days for me as I am off on my second journey into the Pacific Ocean! This cruise I am going to be up to 300 miles off the coasts of Washington and Oregon as the ORCAWALE 5 month research survey begins. ORCAWALE- Oregon, California, Washington Line-Transect and Ecosystem-Marine Mammal Survey is a survey that is conducted through the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California.
I arrived into Seattle on Thursday July 24th and headed straight for the McArthur II, which is a NOAA vessel used for scientific research throughout the year. Friday was the loading day for the ship. All large fish boxes were emptied, gear stored, and the dry lab (where the computers are) was set up and secured. Saturday was a day of meetings for the scientists to review the various projects that are doing to be completed during the cruise. Sunday was a day for me to explore Seattle as my responsibilities were complete and went for a great hike in the mountains!
Today is the day we set sail and went through a lock system to get out to sea. I hadn't been through the locks before and it was interesting to watch it from the ship. We were going to a lower water level so the ship entered the lock, tied up, waited for other boats to pull in behind us, and a large set of doors closed in behind us. Then the water was released into the next region and when the water level equalized, we were the first to go through the passage. The entire process took only about 15 minutes for the water level to drop and for us to get through.
We fueled up, which is no small feat. We were loading approximately 45,000 gallons of diesel onto the ship at a rate of about 3000 gallons per minute. So, my first question is:
We then went into the middle of Puget Sound for calibration of the transducers. This process takes about three hours to complete and the ship needs to be anchored. After that, there was a test CTD (conductivity, temperature, and density) cast (last year's journal for explanation) and a test of the new net that will be deployed nightly, a six-foot IKMT net. Finally, after all of this, we are setting out through the Juan De Fuca straights into the big blue ocean. A note about the weather... It's been great so far and I will be tested as to my resistance to seasickness as tomorrow morning, a front is coming through and we may get seas as high as 20 feet or so! Stay tuned for my next entry!