April 10, 2006

Heading Out

Upon arrival Sunday night I found the weather to be moderately cool and damp in Charleston. I was picked up at the airport by two of Dr. Ann BucklinŐs graduate students. Ann is one of the lead scientists involved in this research cruise. Ann works at the University Connecticut Avery Point. The other head scientists aboard the Ron Brown are Peter Wiebe and Nancy Copeley from Woods Hole Oceanographic. Peter is responsible for the MOCNESS (multiple opening and closing net environmental sampling system) plankton nets. On our way to the harbor that evening the boat was apparent from the road with its large weather station ball towering into the nighttime sky. The ship was moored near two large Coast Guard Vessels. I was pleasantly pleased to find the ship larger than I expected and my accommodations quite amicable.

The following day was spent preparing for departure. All equipment on the deck was tied down including the picnic table. The crew was busy working about the boat as the scientists went through mental lists and some practice runs to make sure that all the equipment needed was aboard and working. A few items were forgotten and a Wal-Mart trip was used for improvisations. I used my motion sickness patch this morning and managed to get some medication on my finger, and then on my contact. The drug quickly dilated my right eye and blurred my vision. Hopefully my normal visions will return tomorrow. I met Lt. Liz Jones the FOO (Field Operations Officer) on the Ron H. Brown. Lt. Jones is 3rd in command of the vessel. Dockworkers unmoored the ropes and we set sail down the Copper River towards the Atlantic Ocean. To our starboard we saw the old town of Charleston as bottlenose dolphins came to escort us to sea. They seemed to enjoy surfing the wave generated by the bow of the ship. We had to leave at a time coinciding with an incoming tide. The tidal surge acts as a dam on the river. This effect reduces the influence of the current and allows the ship to maneuver more easily. The ship reached the edge of the coastal shelf under a brisk wind and choppy seas. We will likely not see land again until April 30th.

Daily Question

To what animal class and order do dolphin belong and what are the characteristics of this class and order?


Picture 1: Bottle Nose Dolphin with bite mark on back (Photograph by Martin Angel)

Picture 2: Pair of Bottle Nose riding the wave in front of the Ron H. Brown (Photograph by Martin Angel)

Picture 3: Pelican investigating the scientists (Photograph by Martin Angel)

Picture 4: Bridge Over Cooper River (Photograph by Martin Angel