Author Archive

End of the rainbow


Saturday, October 20, 2007


We woke up to a rainbow ending behind the harbor master’s office and a light dusting of snow on the Olympic mountains. We left Port Angeles after a breakfast of Jason’s homemade pancakes. Transient killer whales were spotted briefly on our way to try to catch up with members of L pod that had been reported off San Juan Island. As we sailed, we worked on data analysis, final papers, and power point presentations. Heather and Elise heated up our remaining left-over’s and made egg salad (again!), which we managed to polish off for lunch. We found Superpod around 3:30 in the afternoon near Turn Point on Stuart Island. Our last day on the Gato Verde was spent watching the whales breach, tailslap, spyhop, and roll with pink elfshoes on display. As evening approached, we pulled up the hydrophone array for the last time and headed east to come down the San Juan Channel to spend the night at Jones Island. Liz and Kenna prepared vegetable medley pasta surprise and we looked forward to hearing about Shannon’s research before watching Ingrid Visser’s documentary, Killers I Have Known.

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Buzzing at PA

Friday, October 19, 2007


The storm had settled, but there was still no sign of the whales, so we decided to sail over to Port Angeles.  After scrambled eggs for breakfast and offloading our recycling, garbage and compost, we untied the Gato Verde from the dock at Friday Harbor Labs.  Progress was slow through Cattle Pass, but we passed the time debating ethics of intelligent mammals in captivity.  There were a number of Steller sea lions feeding on salmon at the surface as we reached the mouth of Cattle Pass.  We hoisted the main and unfurled the screecher to take advantage of the 15-20 knot winds.  Liz and Elise prepared egg salad for lunch and reached Port Angeles around 4 pm.  Shannon, Elise, Liz, Kenna, and Heather headed into Itsy Bitsy Buzz café for internet and caffeine fixes.  After Buzz, we enjoyed the evening stroll back to the docks.  Kenna and Shannon prepared veggie stir-fry for dinner and we settled in for the evening—drinking tea, reading manuscripts, and writing this blog.

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Thursday at Friday

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Whistling winds woke us.  Weather predictions warned of gale-force winds up to 45 knots and wind waves up to 8 feet.  Mike had secured extra lines to the dock overnight, so we ate breakfast, completed our chores and sat down to our morning meeting.  We decided it would be prudent to stay put and revisit our plans after lunch.  The morning was spent working on data analysis and sustainability reports.  Liz and Kenna prepared tuna salad, cream of mushroom soup and left over Mexican for lunch.  Unfortunately, the winds continued to pick up with waves crashing over the dock at Friday Harbor Labs and soaking us up the waist on our way back to the Gato Verde.  We listened to the hydrophones at Lime Kiln and in front of Val’s house, but there was no sign (or sound) of the whales.  So the group decided to stay at the labs for the day, hoping for an early morning departure.  The afternoon continued with data analysis, project discussions, and sustainability edits and revisions.  Shannon and Jason prepared veggie curry and rice for dinner.  After dinner, students continued to work and took advantage of showers, internet, and decent cell phone reception.

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Dock to dock

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We took advantage of the land facilities while we were docked at Fisherman’s Bay this morning.  After a quick breakfast, chores, and a few phone calls, we sat down to our morning meeting.  We decided to make our daily round of phone calls to try to see if there was any news on the whales, but there were no sightings.  We decided to poke our nose out at Cattle Pass and hove to in order to drop the hydrophones.  But the whales were not only absent, but also silent.  Kenna and Sam prepared potato soup with sandwich fixings for lunch.  After lunch we headed up the San Juan Channel to Friday Harbor to pump out.  Tracy deboarded the Gato Verde to head back home, Kenna pumped out the holding tank, Mike filled up the water tank, and Wes and Liz ran to Kings to buy a few essentials.  We moved onto Friday Harbor Labs and tied up at the dock.  The students hit the ground running, grabbing computers and cell phones.  Wes prepared dinner, Shannon tried to help, Heather grabbed a shower, Sam spoke on the phone, Liz got some work done, Elise caught up with her sister and Kenna helped move boats around on the dock.  After vegetable casserole with salad, Shannon led a discussion on graduate school advice.  The group spent the evening taking advantage of showers, internet connections, lab computers, and cell phone signals.

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Ebonics blog by Wes–with translation

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Waz up USA?  Today tha Ghetto Verde was hoppin fo sho.  This be S. Fowla in da crib.  Tha crew said my grill was shining extra bright dis mornin.  We woked up at Mickey K’s.  We was fini go get T.S. when tha electrizil went to s*^@!  We ate some grub and bounced to tha straits.  There was so many vanilla faces I couldn’t tell em apart.  I saw a sea lion and I was skerred it was fini come up on tha boat.  I said, “Hellllllllz no” and we bounced.  It was peanut butta jelly time, so we’z ate.  When they was cranking tha sail, Liz, Elise and Heatha almost popped, locked, and dropped it out tha boat.  When tha waves was whackd, I told em, lean wid it, walk wid it; go wid da flow.  We’z ate Mexican and cornbread fo dinna.  Don’t playa hate.  Peace.

                                                                                                            -Ebonics Blog by Wes


Translation—We woke up again at Mackaye Harbor, had a quick breakfast, and completed morning chores before heading to Fourth of July Beach to pick up Tracy.  We headed out of the straits to attempt some sailing, but the winds and the weakness of the torn (now mended) sail deterred us—although Liz, Elise and Heather gave it a valiant effort.  A number of female Steller sea lions followed in our wake.  As Jason picked up a back-up generator for the week, Shannon and Sam prepared soup and sandwiches for lunch.  After lunch, the students went through their sailing practical—tacking back and forth and taking turns at the helm up and down the San Juan Channel.  At about 4 pm, we pulled into Fisherman Bay for shore power, showers, and water.  Unfortunately, the pump out was broken, so we had to hold it.  We spent the evening doing data analysis and working on sustainability reports.  Elise and Liz prepared Mexican for dinner and afterwards, we settled back down to our computers.


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Monday, October 15, 2007


We woke up at Mackaye Harbor and had a quick breakfast before making some phone calls to try to figure out where the whales were.  The morning was spent working on sustainability projects and data analysis.  Wes cooked her special Lebanese surprise soup and toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch.  Independent work continued after lunch until Wildside radioed us to tell us that members of J pod were off the lighthouse.  We finally caught up with the whales around 4:30 in the afternoon.  We spent about two hours recording S1, S7, and S10 calls, as well as whistles and clicks.  Liz and Jason ID’d J1, J8, J26, as well as J11 with her calf.  Kenna took some great photos of cartwheels and breaches.  As the sun was setting, Mike headed us back to Mackaye for the night.  Heather and Elise cooked macaroni & cheese primavera with salad for a late dinner.  After dinner, a few hardworking souls sat in front of computers—going through photos from the day and writing this blog.

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Change over at Friday Harbor for a change

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Over breakfast, we enjoyed a rare connection to the outside world over the internet.  Afterwards, we cranked up the anchor to head out to meet Western Prince for Tim’s vessel noise recordings.  We began the weekly clean up of the boat—cleaning the oven, bilge pumps, under the sinks…Alex put forth a good effort of using up some of our still-abundant produce by cooking up French-style veggie omelets for lunch as we pumped out our (very full) holding tank and refilled our (quite empty) water tank at Friday Harbor.  Team VATO entered the last of their data on systems and science, backed up the hard drive, weighed the waste (3 kg), recycling (4.6 kg) and compost (6.6 kg), and downloaded the GPS data for the week.  After grabbing some fresh apple cider off the Friday Harbor Lab docks, we met up with Team JAMI and drove to meet Jason’s friends, Noel and Anne Monin.  The Monins are making a concerted effort to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability.  Over freshly baked pumpkin bread and brewed coffee with raw milk, we discussed some of their choices and efforts, including cooking foods from scratch (chicken broth, mayonnaise, sour cream), gardening, canning, composting, etc.  Afterwards, Team JAMI loaded up the Gato Verde, while Team VATO headed back to the dorms at the labs.  We enjoyed a Lebanese feast prepared by Wes for an early dinner, and then settled into a long evening of data analysis.

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Pea Soup (with a few whales thrown in)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We woke up to news of whales off Val’s house, so enjoyed a quick breakfast of Leslie’s zucchini bread before cranking up the anchor by hand and heading out of Snug Harbor. We encountered whales almost immediately, but the animals were very spread out. We deployed the hydrophones, but the whales seemed to be heading south. We followed the orcas along the coast of San Juan island and had just passed the lighthouse when a thick, pea-soup fog descended. Although we continued to hear the whales intermittently, we could only see about 100 m from the Gato Verde. We made our way through the pea soup, looking and listening for whales and chatting with the other boats in the area. The fog finally lifted and the sun started shining after lunch. We recorded more calls, click, and whistles as we motored along with the whales off the west coast of the island. A group of young whales seemed especially playful as they frolicked, tailslapped, and breached. Regretfully, we had to pull up the hydrophones at around 3 pm to take advantage of the tides through Cattle Pass. Todd gave lectures on Rules of the Road and Sail Theory before pulling into North Bay. After the students took their sailing test, Anne and Ash made a grand attempt to use 2 of the remaining 13 cans of cream of mushroom soup by cooking a Minnesota Hot Dish (casserole to non-Minnesotans).

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California sea lions and Stellers and Humpbacks–oh my!

Friday, October 12, 2007


After filling up our water tanks and paying our harbor bill, we motored away from civilization at Port Angeles.  The team took turns on the bow searching for whales, while the rest of us listened hopefully to radio chatter and worked on data analysis.  After crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we circled Race Rocks, taking photos and looking through binoculars at Stellers, California sea lions, and harbor seals.  We heard there were humpbacks not too far away so headed southeast to try to catch up with them.  As soon as we were able to spot blows and backs and flukes through our binoculars, we were able to hear the large whales breathing and sighing.  One individual whale had a particularly distinct, loud blow.  The humpbacks were very active at the surface, rolling and fluking before diving.  They were surrounded by a group of playful, porpoising Steller sea lions.  Although we deployed the hydrophones, the humpbacks were quiet.  We watched the whales and sea lions for almost three hours before regretfully, sailing away back towards San Juan Island.  As we headed north up to Snug Harbor for the night, a few Dall’s porpoises joined us for a sunset bowriding session.  Shannon and Alex cooked vegetarian fajitas for dinner and then Shannon gave a post-dinner talk on her thesis research on Australian sea lions.  We looked through Shannon’s photos from Antarctica and watched a short video of the humpback whales there bubble-net feeding before bed.

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Killers I Have Known

Thursday, October 11, 2007


After waking up at Roche, and having breakfast shortbread freshly baked by Alex, Tim and Anne took a shot at raising the anchor by hand.  With about 15 feet left to go, time had run short and they let the motor take over.  We motored out Mosquito Pass and met Peregrine so Tim could take more high-frequency recordings of vessel noise.  Our daily calls to friends and contacts produced no information on whale whereabouts—it seemed that the whales that had been up north yesterday where most likely transients, and the residents had left the area surrounding the San Juan islands and headed out to sea.  So the group decided to try something different and sail to Port Angeles on the peninsula, in hopes of making it over to Race Rocks early tomorrow.  We arrived in to PA and walked into town to grab coffee and take advantage of the free wireless.  Tragically, the internet crashed shortly after our arrival until our brave leader-of-the-day, Alex climbed a ladder to reset the black box and reconnect us to the world.  Hooray!  After our caffeine and internet fixes, we walked back to the Gato Verde for spaghetti and meatless meatballs with garlic bread.  We ended the day screening Ingrid Visser’s documentary, Killers I Have Known.

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