Monday, November 14, 2011


The Southern Ocean in shades of blue and gray. Photos Peter H. Wiebe
Today finds us standing by near our Station #12, which is NE of Elephant Island. We are waiting on the weather to start working at this site, which is at the northern end of our sampling region and therefore of particular interest to us. Farther north means farther along in Austral Spring, so perhaps our favorite species, the Southern Ocean salp, will be more abundant. In fact, we will be happy to see our first salp on this, our sixth day of salp hunting!

So here we sit, waiting for the weather to be nicer – a lot nicer! Last night, we had sustained winds at 50 kts, with gusts to 60 kts. The motion of the ship in this weather makes lying down hard work. Sitting in a chair, working in the lab, and eating a meal are even more challenging.

So, are we having fun yet? Well, not everyone is. Sometimes the changing motion can make you seasick even after you get your “sea legs”. (After a few days, you get used to having the floor rock and roll under you. In fact, you can get so used it, you can get “land sick” until you get your “land legs” back). But I am in fact having a bit of fun. For whatever reason, since my first cruise as a postdoc at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1980, I have loved it best when the seas kick up and toss us around. I suppose it makes me feel connected to the forces of nature. And the ocean is lovely when it gets churned up: the waves become a kaleidescope of colors – all shades of blue and grey here in the Southern Ocean. Elsewhere in the world ocean, there are shades of turquoise, green, and blue.

One problem with weather like we have had on our Salp Survey cruise is that we can’t actually get much work done. The weather decks are closed since the waves crash over them regularly, so we can’t easily reach the aquarium room or our laboratories in the “freezer van” lashed to the back deck. We certainly can’t put anything over the side or collect any samples in this weather.

Everyone finds something to do (see Melissa Patrician’s Nov. 13th blog at Some of us watch movies, read books, play video games, sleep more, and/or keep working. And some of us – including me – enjoy the ride.

-- Ann Bucklin (University of Connecticut)

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