Leg 3: March 3, 2012
Day 3: El Norte
The winds in the Sea of Cortez can be unpredictable and change rapidly, but when an “El Norte” blows, it usually lasts several days, driven by a strong pressure gradient from a high centered over the southwest United States. The El Norte that arrived yesterday has continued through the night and is forecast to peak today. There is a gale warning in place this afternoon for the Guaymas Basin area in the middle of the Gulf of California.
It’s far too rough to recover the Benthic Respirometer (BRS) from the bottom, as was planned for this morning at 6:00 a.m. We had intended to send an acoustic “release command” this morning to the acoustic release on the BRS. Once we send this acoustic signal, the anchor weights on the BRS will be dropped and the BRS will float back up to the surface, where we’ll grapple it and haul it back aboard the Western Flyer. The high sea state makes this too dangerous, so we’ll wait out the winds. It is also too rough to deploy the remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
Instead, we’ll all use this day to catch up on sleeping, reading, email, movies, and probably eat too much—snacks are available 24/7 and are often too tempting. Hopefully the gale will pass and we’ll be back in the deep-sea science business tomorrow morning.