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> July 8, 2006
Betty_Carvellas
post Jul 10 2006, 09:16 PM
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July 8, 2006

After two days of bright sunshine and warm temperatures, we're into overcast skies, fog, and heavy mist. This is the weather I'm more used to while out here. It was clear and sunny two nights ago when we sent bags full of decorated styrofoam cups down to 2000 meters. If you think of the pressure on your ears when you dive to the bottom of a swimming pool, you can imagine what the pressure does to the cups at that depth. Almost everyone on board decorated at least one cup with designs done in waterproof marker. We then stuffed the cups with paper towel to maintain their shape. The captain even brought two bags full of cups from the students at his children's school. After our last bongo tow, we hooked all the bags of cups to the winch wire on the well deck and down they went. Check out the picture to see the bags of cups on the way in and then again on the way out. I've also included a picture of three shrunken cups next to a normal sized one. Cups filled most of the bags, but they were also joined by a Styrofoam head and a 2 plastic dinosaurs with cut out cups on them designed to shrink down to T-shirts.

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The decorated Styrofoam cups go down in mesh bags to 2000 meters.

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It's easy to see in this picture how much the cups shrink when sent down to 2000 meters.

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This is what the bags looked like coming back up. Take a close look to compare them to the cups going in.

This crew works daily 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week while out. The cups are just one way to have fun while out here. The crew's lounge is near our room, and there's often a poker game going on or someone watching a movie. All rooms have a television, there's always the daily bingo game with great prizes (I lost again today), the gym I mentioned previously and, of course, the great food so excellently prepared by Herb and Harold. Recently we had prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes, soup, salad, and a dessert of pecan pie; and that was for lunch! I'm anxious to start our mud sampling so I can work off a few of the calories.

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Not everyone sent down just a cup. Someone sent down this plastic dinosaur with a T-shirt made from a Styrofoam cup. The cup was loose when it went in and then it shrunk to mold to the dinosaur.

We are just about to start a series of 8 CTD stations along a transect just south of Unimak Pass as we move across the boundary between deep ocean and the continental shelf. Although we've been in water about 3000 meters deep, we have just traveled over a 6000 meter trench before moving onto the continental shelf which is only 200 meters deep. That's a huge change. And, the ship passed between 6000 meters to a 200 meter depth in just 5 nautical miles!

Because we're in shallower waters and so close to land, we're suddenly seeing lots more birds. When I went up to the bridge, Ian was kind enough to point out several different birds flying close to the ship; I loved the tufted puffin. Actually, I had gone to the bridge to get a better view of the humpback whales all around us. I'm certainly glad the fog has lifted!
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