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> May 17, 2006 Lost Trawl, The science keeps on!
post May 18 2006, 07:55 PM
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Group: TREC Team
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Member No.: 23

Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 62 41.8’N
Longitude: 172 38.0’ W

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Check out the zoomed in map of our stations. Can you see how we have had to zigzag, back track, and change course? That was due to too much ice cover in one place and bad weather and waves in others. We will have to go back and get those stations later.

Apparently life in North Carolina does go on without me back home.

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My lonely little corn stalk is about 2 feet high according to Mr. Barlow. My pumpkins are in the back left corner, zucchini and yellow squash to the right and then peppers to the far right. There are also tomatoes, potatoes, and spinach not pictured. Mr. Barlow gets to eat a bowl of fresh, homegrown, spinach salad every night for dinner.

We are in open-waters and have been for the past few days. There’s not much ice here now so the waves have been getting bigger. We have also had pretty bad weather. It’s been very cloudy and the precipitation has been snow, ice, and rain mixed. Last night, the waves were big enough that the napkin holders and condiment boxes were sliding around on the tables in the mess hall. Chairs and cups started sliding in the science lounge where I type most of my journals. It has even been difficult to keep my balance as I walk on occasion.

We had an incident with the otter trawl on Monday, May 15, 2006. I was at the right place at the right time and was able to observe Captain Oliver in action in Aft Con. Aft Con is the control room on the aft, or back, deck of the ship. It is here that the Healy crewmembers control the winches that raise and lower the various science sampling equipment into the water. These crewmembers are called Marine Science Technicians, or MST for short. They have a ton of expertise about all the sampling equipment used by the science crew and they work in shifts all day and night to support the sampling and research being done by the scientists. But, I digress. I was talking about the incident with the otter trawl.

We were in a small patch of ice, but the back of the boat seemed clear so they put the otter trawl in the water for a sample. It got caught on a piece of ice like fishing line gets caught in a snag. Captain Oliver, it seems, rarely drives the boat. He oversees all the people that do that job. But this time, I found him up in Aft Con, communicating by radio with the bridge in a very intricate back and forth volley to try and maneuver the ship so that we could recover the snagged trawl. It was awesome to see him in action.

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It is a little difficult to see, but the block (pulley type thing) and lines are pulled sideways because of the snagged trawl. Eventually, the line snapped and the trawl was lost. It’s a good thing the scientists brought two.

Unfortunately, the trawl could not be recovered and it was swallowed by the Bering Sea. The technicians still had trouble getting the lines and cables attached to the block and winches untangled.

So what do the scientists do when they lose equipment? Do they just stop that part of the research and deal with the data they already have?

Actually, they break out the spare and keep going. It seems that there are two of a lot of things, even something as big as the CTD. The danger of losing a piece of equipment either due to weather, ice conditions, equipment malfunction, or human error always looms overhead, so the scientists come prepared. The science must go on!
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