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August 20, 2012 (continued). More Monday Blogging

Emma and Ruth in new Hypoxia shirts.

We’re back in Texas! The rough sea yesterday made it very difficult to do just about anything, especially filter, and the rain the day before was equally annoying. We do look pretty good in our rain gear, though….

As for this green flash, I don’t believe it. I was looking at the same sun as the rest of them and saw nothing. It’s been too cloudy/stormy to look for it again, but hopefully tonight will be clear.

I almost went overboard the other day. Dr. DiMarco and I were trying to put the Acrobat in and everyone was watching. Luckily I managed to keep myself, my hard hat (which fell off) and the pole on deck. Ruth was inside watching the screens and failed to get it on video.

One more day, then back in to Galveston!


As Emma says, it was rather lumpy the last two nights, and sleep was at a premium. However the sun has emerged again and the sea has calmed down and things are looking better the further west we go.

Despite all the electronics on board, this time we remembered to bring an ancient device, a Secchi disc, with us. This venerable piece of equipment was first described in 1865 and serves to give a quick estimate of the transparency of the water. It’s just a black and white disc that you lower into the water until you can’t see it any longer, and the depth at which it disappears is inversely related to the water transparency. So far on the cruise, these “Secchi disc depths” have varied between 30 cm (in the murky greeny-brown water off the delta) and 11m in the much clearer blue water off south Texas.


What a beautiful day in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, today that is.   On Sunday morning (yesterday) the science party woke to 5 foot seas and numerous  scattered thunderstorms.  At one point the ship anemometer recorded wind speeds gusting to 50 knots.  Needless to say it was miserable for all aboard for most of the day.  Last night we moved the Manta closer to shore to take advantage of calmer seas due to the wind blowing out of the north.  With that we met conditions much more conducive to our mission.  The science warriors aboard the Manta all came to life and we were able to complete all of the planned sites while steaming back to Galveston.  After a quick fuel stop in Galveston we headed to the study sites off of Freeport, Texas.  As of this moment, we have covered 950 nautical miles, ate all of Tina’s cooking and chased most of the hypoxia completely out of the Gulf of Mexico.  Life is good!

Captain Darrell Walker
R/V Manta

Tina scores a hit with her meals.

Reflections of a Monday off the Texas coast
Today we no longer have to look like Teletubbies in make-shift rain gear that we found around the boat.  No one expects storms in August.  It is nice to not feel soggy and damp all day.  But, the heat is back.  Sunny, clear, skies and exceptionally blue, blue water.  And a fabulous lunch to start the shift – baked ham, sausage, cheesy potato hashbrown casserole, green beans, salad, and homemade cheesecake.  Jealous anyone?  Tina definitely is the best cook I have ever sailed with and based on how many people fall asleep after meals, I think the rest of the boat will agree with me.

Dolphins also made a visit to the boat this afternoon.  A small pod (mother/calves) were probably about 5 – 10 ft from the boat.  We tried to pull out the water hoses, but we were too slow.  We were also trying to put in the Acrobat at the same time.  Today we attached two cameras, rear and front facing, to the instrument cage.  I think we may even captured dolphins on camera checking out the Acrobat in the water.  When we are back on shore, I will try and have some of this video posted so you can see what the view is underwater.   As Piers mentioned, Secchi depth was 11 m, so visibility on the camera should be fantastic.

Acrobat tows are down times for most of the shift unless you are a driver.  Most people catch up on filtering samples, work, video games, or Angry Bird levels.  Yes … there are a few Angry Bird addicts on board.  Instead of movies, we have been playing music … mostly oldies, but goodies, random old pop and rock, and whatever else you can think of.  You can definitely figure out everyone’s age by their music selections.  Each cruise, we pick a pop song as the cruise song.  Last year, it was ‘I’m on a boat’ (original, I know), ‘All the Single Ladies’.  This year, our selections were LMFAO ‘Sexy and I Know It’ and ‘Call Me Maybe’.  For some reason, modern pop can be agreed upon by everyone and often results in tired-end of shift dancing or caffeine-pumping dance parties during start of shifts.  Being a sea can make you a little kooky.

Science updates – Texas waters are oxygenated.  No hypoxia and very warm, salty waters.  Expected for this time of year, but there has also been interesting profiles, especially with fluorescence.  We intend to work down towards Port O’Connor and then head back into Galveston Tuesday afternoon.

Have a great Monday!