Day 51, Saturday, July 14, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
A day at sea can be remarkable from beginning to end even when events are somewhat unremarkable. The ocean will provide for interesting things to see and opportunities for close camaraderie. Take today for example.
The day seemed ordinary enough for a whale group at sea. The sun was glistening in the sky. The team was busy bustling with the work of the day. A gentle breeze blew across the bow. It was a typical pleasant morning in the Gulf, albeit on where a whale had not yet been sighted. One you relish for its calm beauty and try to soak in the moments.
Yet, there was more. This morning offered the subtle and gentle sight of mirror water. Water so calm and gentle you can see yourself reflected in it as if looking in a mirror. I imagine a more sea-going wicked witch in Snow White might have used it saying, “Mirror, Mirror on the sea, who is fairest, please tell me”. Unlikely, the answer would be Snow White out here though. Maybe Sun Tan instead? But, I digress.
Mirror water is just remarkable and you stare at it just amazed at how calm and reflective it is. It is a quiet but precious gift that jazzes up a slow day at sea. I have attached a couple of pictures of the water surface. One shows reflections of the boat, sun, clouds and whale boom. The other shows a reflection of me taking a picture of the water with the word “Research” that is painted on the side of the boat reflected as well.
Mirror water also raises the bar on the challenge of finding whales. The water is so still and the whales can be so calm in some of their movements that they are hard to see. But, find one we did. Conor spotted the dorsal fin in the distance ahead and we captured our 94th whale biopsy of the summer. The team was quick, thorough and efficient as befits a team taking its 27th biopsy of the leg. I have attached the picture of the pending biopsy with Johnny on the whale boom and you can see how calm the water is around the whale and how little of the whale shows. Now, picture that whale a mile off and you can understand why it’s so hard to find. Nice job Conor!
The afternoon would be yet different. A series of scattered thunderstorms interfered with many whale watches, but, provided the opportunity for camaraderie and fun. Lunchtime brought a warm Gulf rain and you know what that means… Yep, the Mainiacs from Maine (me and Johnny) rush out and enjoy a summer shower. Mukhaye, Jai and Ike came out and enjoyed the fun and horseplay that comes with a summer rain on deck. The two Lou’s watched us from above on the aft platform. We were soaked, but we laughed and played like little kids in a lawn sprinkler from days of yore.
Later in the day brought a team games of cards as Johnny, Lou Falank, Jai, Conor and Mukhaye gathered around the galley table for a variety of games (picture attached with them sitting in that order). Evening brought dinner and movies in the salon. It is a team that certainly enjoys each other’s company.
But, there were other outdoor amazements as well. Although, they rock the boat a bit, scattered thunderstorms bring amazing cloud formations and dancing lightning in the distance that is a marvel to watch. I have attached a picture of the view from the salon of the clouds on starboard showing the contrast between clouds and sea. Clearing skies bring rainbows and today we were treated to a full arc of a double rainbow (picture attached of one end). Makes you wonder if whales are the treasure under those rainbows. Kermit and Dorothy would certainly love them and seeing them can make you break out in their songs…
“Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side? Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide. So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it. I know they’re wrong, wait and see. Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me.”.
and Dorothy’s song from the Wizard of Oz…
“Somewhere over the rainbow, Way up high, There’s a land that I heard of Once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, Skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true.”
They really do.
You know the songs, sing along!
Finally, there is the sunset. Sunsets are always amazing after some weather has come through. The cloud formations are painted by the sun in the most amazing displays of colors, light and textures. Words just cannot do it justice so a picture is attached. It’s simple stunning.
I think the team is recovered now from its whale mayhem of the first two days. We will soon turn deep to find some. Let’s hope we do.
P.S. If you want to see our location on Google Maps we are at:
just paste in the coordinates and click search
If you want to read the previous days of these messages- they are
posted at www.usm.maine.edu/toxicology/gulf and click on “read logs
John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D.