24 November, 1995

November 24, 1995

Location: 66 32' South Latitude x 95 70' West Longitude


Today I lived the color gray, every hue, every subtle variation. I attended the universal gray convention. Today I joined the church of gray. Gray was everywhere today. It was almost like a religion with its ten commandments of gray. If gray could have a hall of fame, I was locked inside it today. I discovered that gray is not just a color, but it is a smell, a taste, a sound as well. It is an aura, a feeling. I have lived a 24 hour recurring nightmare of gray. I have been to the edge of the gray abyss, and have come back forever changed by that experience.

I just cannot seem to shake how the sea and the sky were absent of any color other than gray. The ocean was not blue, it was gray. The sky and the clouds were gray. The sun even got caught up in the melancholy. I patiently waited for the evening sun to paint on the dusk sky from its palette in orange, yellow and red. It never happened. The waves gently rocked our ship, lulling us to sleep away the somber gray hours of the day.

As we make our transit, we have reached a point now, where we are far enough north of the Antarctic Ice shelf, that we rarely see ice. I miss the ice. I miss the way everyone on the ship would talk of the shapes and the color and the magic of the ice. I miss also the feeling that when we were in the ice, we had become part of something bigger, some plan, some greater whole. Out here in the ocean it is very easy to feel alone and separated. The grayness of the day made its way into the mood of the people on the ship. Everyone seemed just a bit quiet, a little reserved. Some doctors and scientists say that the weather can have a profound affect on how you feel. I am a living case study.

The science marches on with the waves. Each day we continue to collect multi beam data of the sea floor. Occasionally we see variations in the features of this mostly flat basin. It is these little changes, bumps on the sea floor, that are exciting to the scientists. These maps that are being made reveal features never before seen. They provide a small glimpse of a huge sea floor system that has been formed over millions of years by the slow plate tectonic motions.

The act of collecting data to produce sea floor maps is a scientific adventure. It is a search for the new and unseen. Like adventurers that discovered continents, the scientists are in a race to be the first. The race for the scientists is a race to be first, to collect, analyze and interpret data, and ultimately to publish so that their findings can be shared within the scientific community.

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