ten days ago i was unexpectedly invited out to sea on one of MBARI’s research vessels, the western flyer.  i had been hoping to join a cruise later this year, but a spot opened up early and it was mine if i could get here on short notice.  a flurry of organizational activity ensued (encouraged by the saintly pebbles, who assured me he would be ok on solo-dad duty with the elf while i was away, perhaps with some local family support), booking flights, promising return favors to colleagues who could cover my teaching duties, and generally getting my head around the ever-more-real possibility of going to sea again soon, and in such prestigious company.

and here i am.  out over the monterey canyon, rolling around on the flyer in 30-knot winds, but with the unexpected boon of internet access.  today was too rough for the ROV doc ricketts to be deployed for its scheduled all-day adventures, but it was down for three hours, long enough to almost get used to the amazing feeling of sitting in its control room and watching the pilots maneuver it incredibly delicately around individual shrimp and other deep-sea beasties.  the control room actually feels a bit like the bridge of the starship enterprise (no accident, i’m told), complete with the hyperspace effect of marine snow flying rapidly past the ROV camera.


after the truncated dive we decided to snatch at the window of opportunity to set a brief trawl, so we sent the net down to 400m for an hour and 200m for another hour on the way back up, just to see what we could find.  the answer was: lots of cool stuff!  lanternfish, jellies, shrimp and other cool crustaceans, and a few squid: Chiroteuthis, Taonius and Histioteuthis, among others.  all small specimens (less than 10cm total length), but in beautiful shape; some were lively enough to be maintained in the lab here, and the others were released.  i won’t monopolize the internet connection out here by posting heaps of photos, but here are a few for the day, and i’ll come back and add more after we’re back on shore,.

we’ll be within sight of land the whole week, and the food is excellent so far (so, two marked contrasts to the 2009 voyage).  in addition to the deep-sea critters, we’ve seen seals and albatross.  the scientists and crew are a fun and lively bunch, the air smells like salt, and—separation from the pebbles and elf aside—damn, but it’s good to be back at sea!