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February 24th, 2003:  Leg 1, Day #6

While we are starting to count the hours until we reach port and can either spend some time exploring new places or returning to our families, the crew of the Western Flyer is just getting started on a long journey. They are responsible for the operation of the ship 24/7, and they are very good at it. Just like we take pride in our scientific discoveries they take pride in running the vehicle of discovery in a very professional and efficient manner. For them we are just the first leg of a trip that will keep them away from family and friends for three months. We will return with them to Moss Landing in late May.

Feb24_bikes.jpg (45421 bytes)The crew is made up of ten people. The captain, first and second officers take turns at the helm. There are three engineers, two deck hands, a cook, and a computer specialist. In this trip, the captain and the second officer have shared time on the helm while the first officer has been responsible for all of the over-the-side operations, and there have been a lot of them. They are better prepared than we are for long journeys. They bring along commodities that we had not thought of. Several of them are into bicycling so they have stands for their bikes. It is good that the seas have been calm since leaving central California. 

The sun has finally broken through the clouds. The waters have warmed, and it has become very pleasant. A biological sign of the warm waters has been the appearance of the red crab of the genus Pleuroncodes. Unlike most crabs that settle to the bottom after swimming around as a larvae, this guy swims around all the time. His or her appearance in U.S. waters usually marks the beginning of an El Niņo. During those years the waters that are normally off southern Baja are brought towards California. During very strong events they are brought as far north as Monterey. 

Feb24_oxy.jpg (102156 bytes)For those of you who read yesterdays update, you may remember that I told you that some of the pieces of our puzzle where falling into place. Scratch that! The signature of the undercurrent has been extremely weak for the last few stations. What has happened? It looks like waters from offshore are recruited into the undercurrent around Punta Eugenia but does that mean that the undercurrent starts there? It would have been nice to have some direct current measurements, but unfortunately our ship is not equipped with that capability. Just another example of how nature continually reminds us of how little we know about what is happening on our planet.  (At right: The oxygen anomaly showing how it increased off Baja and then decreased again.)

Francisco

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Ginger Elrod sampling the trace metal rosette. It has to be kept VERY clean.

 

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Tiburon in the background waiting for its moment of glory.

 

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Kelly and Cesar are catching some interesting critters including the pelagic red crab, a krill, and some deep-sea fish larvae.

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The cook getting fed between meals.

 

 

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Our walls are full of figures we have created from the data collected.

 

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