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21 July, 2002

Once again, it’s tough to say when my day actually started. Officially it was at midnight when most of the scientists were still up working because we had finally reached our 4:30 PM station at 10:30 PM! We headed on deck for the first of our five van Veen grabs around 1:30 AM. We had moved north along the coast and were in Barrow Canyon, part of the shelf, the gently sloping area just off the coast. Remember that this project is examining the shelf-basin interaction. Although we were still sampling in relatively shallow water (around 50 meters), there is a strong current that runs through the area. As a result, our first and second grabs pulled up mostly rocks and very little mud. We decided to call it a night and I got to bed by 3 after posting my journals and pictures. (Note: there were lots of people still in the lab when I went to bed!) By the way, there is a wonderful website where you can follow the ship’s cruise path, get great satellite photos of the ice distribution and even follow my journal. The site is http://www.joss.ucar.edu/sbi/catalog.

Because the Sunday schedule is considered a holiday schedule for the crew, brunch is served in place of breakfast and lunch. Everyone got a few extra hours of sleep after their late night/early morning. By the way, for those of you who read yesterday’s journal, you will be happy to know that Cindy got her instruments working and ran a very successful first sample analysis. Someone else was able to get his equipment up and running for the first time yesterday as well, and the team deploying the video plankton recorder was pleased to get results early this morning after an unsuccessful earlier attempt. Transporting sensitive equipment, setting it up, and actually making it work at sea is a difficult proposition. It continually amazes me to see the complex procedures going on all around me.

My “day” ended at 6 AM on the 22nd when we finished processing the samples from the van Veen grabs and the Haps core (I’ll have a picture and description for you tomorrow.) Part of our problem was the fact that the sampling area included tremendous numbers of mussels, a type of bivalve (bi = two and valve = shell). Mussels are known for the incredibly strong byssal threads they use to attach themselves to rocks. They are also filter feeders, filtering the water for tiny organisms. The current that brings the nutrients to this area also makes it necessary for the mussels to use byssal threads to hang onto rocks on the bottom. It was these same threads that made our sieving so difficult. While earlier grabs could be sieved in less than 10 minutes, each of these took nearly 45 minutes even with two of us working!

The excitement of the day was the arrival of Dr. Jackie Grebmeier, co-chief scientist and the woman with whom I am working. Most of the scientists know Jackie as does many of the crew, and everyone was happy to see her arrive. Her arrival and that of three people from CBS news stopped all outside work on the aft (back portion) of the ship. They are all important people, but that’s not the reason the work stopped. Whenever a helicopter takes off or lands, we hear “stand by for flight con (condition) one.” Everyone in the back of the ship immediately moves inside and takes in any clothing or equipment that could be caught up in the helicopter blades. Once the helicopter has taken off, we hear “stand by for flight con 2” and work returns to normal.

Dr. Jackie Grebmeier arrived on board the Healy today. She has just completed a 10 day cruise on the Canadian ship, the Sir Wilfred Laurier.

Despite previous problems the VPR (Video Plankton Recorder) worked this time.

If you are on deck when equipment is in use, you must wear a hard hat. Other hard hat names include Live Bering, Roller Bering, and Bering Gifts. Check the cruise route on my main web page to see our path through Bering Strait.

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