Leg 1 Comes to an End

A number of humpback whales joined the Thompson as we transited to Newport. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington, V23.
Z (RCA-APL Engineer), Wendi (RCA Data Lead Scientist), and Han (recent Oceanography graduate and now RCA Technician) calibrate the optical attenuation instrument prior to deployment at Slope Base. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington, V23

Under very calm seas and beautiful blue skies, Leg 1 comes to an end…along the way we have experienced multiple successes – turning two science platforms on each of the Shallow Profiler Moorings at the Oregon Offshore and Slope Base sites, turning of the low power junction box at Slope Base where we were again visited by snail fish at 2900 m (9500 ft), and this morning Jason finished turning infrastructure at the Oregon Shelf site.

The highs and lows were intermixed; the lows at times were a bit frustrating as the weather gods were unkind to us. We lost at least 4 days to weather with winds up to 35 kts (40 mph), and rough seas. Yet, these days brought several sightings of whales and porpoises, with one special evening watching >30 dolphins clearly playing in the waves. A few of these remarkable creatures jumped high above the tumultuous waters to the delight of us two legged onlookers, and small pods synchronously surfed the white caps.  “Oh to be a dolphin in the next life”.

Life aboard the Thompson is always a gift. The crew treats us extremely well. Some of us have known a number of the crew for more than two decades and it is always wonderful to see them again and catch up. As always, they take good care of us, feeding us great meals, ensuring that deck operations moving heavy gear on a rolling ship are safe, and welcoming the students – providing them tours of the bridge and engine room. For some students, this will be their only time aboard a global class research ship using an ROV, which allows them to directly experience parts of our world rarely if ever seen by humans. For other students, this begins their journey for a lifetime at sea. Even on weather days, being out on the oceans is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience and one, for most, never forgotten.

Humpback whales gave us a parting gift on the way into Newport.