(how’s that for an enticing title?  … accurate, at least.)  guess what, we’re still at sea, still eating four times a day, still watching for whales, still sampling at night, still catching up on sleep during the day.  of course there are interesting aspects of each of these, but overall there’s nothing earth-shattering to report for now.  so i’ll adress them in order.
still at sea: we’re at about 12°S now and have been having very windy weather, with fine misty spray constantly wafting around even the uppermost deck, some 12m above the surface.  some nights are cloudy but some have spectacular stars, and the other night the moonrise was particularly lovely – the amber half-moon floated huge above the horizon for about an hour.  we have movie nights every couple of days, and the south american contingent and i have been exchanging language lessons by writing down and explaining song lyrics, which is good fun and excellent for the vocabulary.
still eating: the food continues to be mostly good, with a few extreme exceptions.  my new un-favorite is something called ‘herring in a fur coat’ (and doesn’t that just sound appetizing) – it’s chunks of raw, salted herring under a mat of shredded/grated pickled beets, bound together with mayonnaise.  i threw up a little in my mouth just writing about it.  and chicken jello was on offer again yesterday at afternoon tea.  but let’s be positive: we’ve also had chocolate layer cake (about 1/5 of a cake each – portions are nothing if not generous), tangerine ice cream, and many good soups.
still whale-spotting: the other day we saw a group of baleen whales breaching in the distance.  which is to say, we saw the splashes (considerable) and the spouts, which told us they were baleen whales.  we didn’t see the whales themselves (that would be too much excitement), so we don’t know what species they were.  but the fact that there were about six suggests humpbacks; most of the other baleen whales are solitary.
still sampling: we’ve had about a dozen samples in total, and have about another 20 to go.  results have been excellent – among ~200 specimens of squid and octopus, we’ve seen 27 species from 13 families, a very nice diversity.  the strangest are still the cranchiids (like Cranchia scabra, of golf-ball-resemblance fame) – the latest bizarre newcomer, Leachia, has its eyes out on stalks longer than its arms; the arms themselves form just a small rosette at the end of a long ‘neck.’  there are enoploteuthids with hundreds of blue-green photophores scattered in tiny galaxies over their ventral sides, deep-sea mastigoteuthids with long tentacles covered in tiny suckers, and octopuses that are completely transparent except for the eyes and shiny, spindle-shaped digestive gland/liver.  where we have enough material within one species, we are also saving some specimens or tissue samples for DNA analysis when we return, which will help determine how closely these species are related to other cephalopods.
still sleeping: daytime naps are critical to our night-time productivity. the siesta (or siestita, depending how much time is available) is  a near-holy concept and can be interrupted only if the napper is in danger of missing a meal.  in fact, with 35 minutes before lunch, i think i can just squeeze one in…

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