Archive for the ‘2006 fall’ Category

First orcas!

I saw my first Orcas this past Thursday!!! They were transients, and over a mile off, but still visible w/o binocs. So Amazing – saw two spyhops… the first 1/3rd of the whales was the size of the NOAA research inflatable that was right next to it! And that little boat held 4 people! damn… I love it. I can’t wait to get closer and see some more whales. The residents are a tease!! They got in Friday afternoon and then totally bailed and went back out to whereever they’ve been that evening… so no chance to do any research or test any data sheets yet. I’m a little anxious, but what else is new? haha. Anyways, Whales are awesome. Harbor seals are adorable. Porpoises are nifty little torpedos and I haven’t showered in a week! (noone ever said research was glamourous!) Luckily, we’re on land for the majority of today, so we’ll be able to shower, do laundry, etc.

My friends from Spirit are reading this and thinking – Shower? After one week? talk about Spoiled! (Not to mention the coolest most baddass whales in the world.) Seriously though guys, I’m going nuts. Our captain doesnt like to coil and hang lines on this ship! that means there are messy. uncoiled. lines. ON THE DECK! EEp! I can hear Mr Mosely yelling at me from across the country. haha. On a cool note our relief captain Mike Dawson came aboard yesterday and he’s sailed Spirit, and Westward! So it’s good to have a tall shipper on board. And he knows Mr (now Captain) Mosely & Captain Flansburg, but doesn’t yell as much :).

Thats all for now! Wish me whales! haha muah


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Day 2

Gato Verde at the dock of Friday Habor LabsWednesday September 13, 2006

Today was our second day fully at sea and our real first gloomy day. Everyone had to throw on an extra layer. Wind was good for sailing and we even got some pretty good waves that made the boat go up and down. We had fresh pancakes this morning from Jason and Peggy with Jason’s bread machine. My compliments to the cooks, but I would like walnuts in mine next time, thanks. We had our first dump of our dump today and that went faster than expected. I stood upwind. Soup was an almost must for lunch because of the ‘cool’ weather. I saw a harbor seal stick it’s head up around some gulls and if you can identify which gulls they were, more props to you. We also saw the NOAA group on their cool looking boat in their warm gear. Wish we had an opportunity to swap boats for an hour or so. They were on their way to Canada to tag the transients while we sailed along. We got our first attempt to drop our equipment in the water, ya that was interesting for everybody. We discovered if we saw whales tomorrow (which we have not yet seen) we could probably not get any real data. That’s fine with me because I am taking this as the test run it is. We were able to anchor in Mitchell Bay and I got the Internet for about two seconds and that was it. As fast, and I do mean fast, these last two days were the fresh breath of air I needed while I was drowning in the wealth of information. I actually got in some exercise, so to speak, while I am getting more familiar with the boat. It feels so good to just sit on the trampoline and feel the cool breeze pass over you and listen to the waves crash. I must say again, thank you mom.


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And we're off

Tuesday September 12, 2006

Well yesterday we set off on a bright beautiful late afternoon and headed over to Shaw Island to moor overnight. Well there was too many boats so we headed out to Jones Island where they were even more boats, but we had to stay instead of island hopping in the dark. Peggy is my cabin mate and we unpacked our stuff in Cabin B. Juliette had an unfortunate accident when her brand new digital camera went overboard, just 20 minutes before we set anchor for the night. A moment of silence for the camera. Peggy and Colleen made a great green curry for dinner that was a recipe from the 2005 crew (thanks).

Today we went sailing and it was a lovely day. Once we finished cleaning the boat we learned some sailing terminology. Then it was about time for lunch. We were hoping to be able to sail by this time but the wind was lacking in the area. We motored out on the biodiesel engine and finally the wind came to help us out. I love the trampoline on the bow of the boat. It is so relaxing when the sun is gracing us with its presence. At one point I went to the back of the boat (stern) and saw Peggy steering the boat. So cool! It was then my turn and I jumped at the chance. It was a little scary after the last little boat I learned to sail was very ‘tippy’. This is more like a car and was much easier once you got the hang of it. I then was able to steer doing a tact because an aircraft freighter was headed our way. They weren’t able to tell which country it belonged to but it had a Canadian flag on top and the US flag was on the bottom, but the US was bigger. Who knows?

I was able to talk to Adrian today and it’s weird to think he is on the opposite side of the country on Capital Hill and I’m living on a sailboat in waters between US and Canada. Adrian, when you read this remember I am coming home with a new peg leg, eye patch and a Belted Kingfisher on my shoulder. Aaarrgghh! I became the pirate of the ship yesterday when I got something in my eye and couldn’t quite get it out for about 3-4 hours. I’m all good now. Can’t wait to get out there again tomorrow.


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Sail away…

Getting on the boat in a couple hours, after a crazy, nonstop week! Talk about exhilarating and exhausting! Tons of experts – David Baine, Robin Baird, Jeff Nystuen, Lynne Barre, etc etc etc etc! Phew! Great week overall and feeling pretty excited about my project. This update is rushed and lame, so I’ll end it here and wait till I have more important stuff to chatter about – like seeing my first orca!!!

Awooooo phftttbbb!

Send me your addy people. I’ll write you dorky postcards with inane whale stories 🙂


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Week 2 & 3

I haven’t been staying up to date on my blog book, oops. This is not because there is a lack of things to write about but because there is lack of time to write about everything. The past two weeks a lot of things have happened lets see if I can remember it all… we have had many many many guest lectures that all gave very interesting talks. It’s really cool to have contact with them, bounce ideas off of them, and learn about their research. We went on a tour of the Center for Whale Research, played down at the dock with some hydrophones, and had a lovely potluck dinner down at smugglers cove. Labor day weekend, people scattered about to Seattle and Victoria. I stayed on Island and spent Sunday on the water with Kari and Soundwatch which was so much fun. Tomorrow we leave for the first 2 week excursion on the boat! I am so excited! We have spent the last few days, once it hit us that we were 54 hours away from boarding, running around making lists, buying food, packing, debugging equipment, downloading software, and building all sorts of things. Hopefully everything will go relatively smoothly… either way it will be great to be on the water and with the whales!


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Almost there

As the hours until our departure dwindle, we are all both excited and nervous. What will the boat look like? Where will we sleep? What will we eat? How will we collect data? And, how is this all going to work!?! The past few days and the upcoming hours until we push off have been about answering those questions. We have now bought all our supplies and food, tested the hydrophone array in the water and tested out a few computers. As far as science goes, we’re right on track. For the sustainability side of Beam Reach, we toured Jason’s house on Friday afternoon. He has built his own house with a number of environmentally conscious decisions in mind. From the type of structure to the orientation of the house, he has tried to keep waste and unnecessary use of valued resources at a minimum. Not only is the process admirable, but the house was gorgeous! Following the tour we headed down to Smuggler’s Cove for a beach pot luck. Both Jason’s and Scott’s kids and parents were in attendance making for quite a homey and familial atmosphere-all of us students living on our own loved it!! Today was devoted to food organization and shopping, as well as equipment de-bugging, and tomorrow we’ll put the finishing touched on our group science plan and equipment list. Monday midday we set sail. As for now…I’m just about spent and ready for bed!! Stay tuned for updates on our first trial run at sea!

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End of Week 3

Mon 9/4 Rena and I came back up from a lovely weekend in Seattle. We stopped at Deception Pass first, even though it looked like it was socked in. However, it was absolutley lovely and kind of a little taste of what it will be like on the water. On the Ferry we ran into Scott and Liam; we were still working on our proposals (materials and methods) and they were off exploring.
Tue 9/5:
Scott gave a talk on Physical Oceanography and introduced us to the CT device that we will use on one of our service projects. Then Dr. David Bain shared a powerpoint about his cooperative research project called “Landbase Study: Effects of vessel traffic on behaviors of N. and S. resident killer whales. He was also very helpful in explaining hydrophone arrays and different configurations.

After lunch, we went down to the dock to see how David and Val calibrated their hydrophones. We also redid an experiment where a common J-pod call (Call S-1)was played in the water. Then we recorded the call at four different distances to measure the attenuation.

We all went into town for dinner and met a friend of mine who works for Save our Wild Salmon. We all had the opportunity to share our research projects and learn more about Columbia and Snake River salmon. Quite fun!

Wed 9/6

Jeff Nystuen, applied physics professor form U.W. came up to give on a talk on PALS, passive aquatic listening devices. It was pretty cool to see him get so excited about what he does. He deploys these hydrophone/computers around the world, some attached to buoys, and others sunk below the surface of the water. It randomly records sound bites and he is able to detect wind, rain, anthropogenic sounds like vessel traffic, and biological sounds possibly whales or dolphins.

Peer Review from 2:00-5:30
It was good to hear everyone’s projects and list the different types of equipment that we will need on the boat. We are preparing for our group science plan that will come later this week. I’m glad to know that many of our observations and data collection procedures are very similar. I am getting excited to be on the water with them.

Thur 9/7
Our two guest speakers today were Lynne Barre and Brad Hanson. It was great to see both of them and hear more about the ESA listing process, conservation plan, and next steps. Brad walked in with a pool net and shared that they are going to attempt to collect whale scat. Great stories of whale poo though which was a nice change of pace. Our afternoon went by so fast; advisor meetings and then we started the conversation about sustainability on the boat (fuel, water, waste, etc.) We realized that we only have 54hr before we go on the boat. Yippee!
Fri 9/8
It was a delight to have Peter Westley, UW grad student, share with us some general salmon life histories and the work he has been doing up in Alaska. His enthusiasm was quite contagious and you could definitely tell he loves what he does. That was followed by Robyn Baird and his work with TDR’s (time depth recorders) with transients and residents. I was totally fascinated with the dive information and day/night patterns. I think I’m going to his article for my journal club next week. Lastly, we ended tonight with a lovely potluck over at Jason’s new house. We learned more about sustainable living on an island, but it was quite cool to get the tour. He and his family have built this house from the ground up and it is gorgeous! We took our goodies down to the beach and met both Jason and Scott’s families.


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So as of today my extent of wildlife has been Fred, our resident field mice, Bambi outside our cottage, crows, turkey vultures, one bald eagle, one osprey, commorants, unknown passeriformes and harbor seals. I will add more later.

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Week Three

renaKayaking.jpgOn Friday we had learned to sail and had a chance to kayak out of Jackson Beach. Let me just say I am not good at sailing. I thought I was going to tip us for sure. The commodore teaching us didn’t seem to be as scared and told us we just weren’t used to the angle of sailing. Darn right I’m not. I like boats to stay pretty even on the water, but hey that’s just me. Kayaking was lots of fun and I could see myself doing that again and again and again, you get the picture. It took me awhile to get used to the oar and rudder situation, but worked out for the best in the end. So we had weekend number two which was the holiday weekend. Peggy invited me to accompany her to Seattle. We stayed there for the weekend and shopped. I went to the big REI and bought Keen’s for $30, Yeah!!!! Cute light blue color. Had part two of my proposal due on Tuesday, so the weekend was not all fun and games. Arrived back in the island on the Monday ferry. I finally got to meet Scott and his son Liam. Liam is so cute and just a bit shy. David Bain was also on our ferry and he gave us his time on Monday and Tuesday to talk about our projects. I was very intrigued on his PowerPoint presentation because it was very similar to what I was doing, except I only have 10 weeks to put it all together. We’ll see how that goes. I packed all my stuff today for the boat on Sunday. I wanted to see how much I could pack in a small duffle. I did well put need to still pack boots and heavy jacket. If you know me, then you know I love to over pack but I am getting so much better. You would be so proud.

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rebutal to earlier observations on swim test

To whom it may concern,

I had noticed that in one of the student’s blogs (who won’t be named) that I had been accused of not hiding the fact that the water was cold during the swim test. I just felt that I needed to set the record straight. I was the first staff member to commit to participating in the swim test (which is not a requirement for staff). I was the second person to jump into the water (after Val) and the first to jump back into the water. I actually quite enjoyed the swim test and must insist that any odd facial expression has been misinterpreted.

The student who won’t be named also took another stab at me today by saying that I hadn’t blogged yet. Well, now that is no longer true.



PS For those of you who can’t tell, this is really just for a little humor, but I hope that you get the idea that I am being endlessly harangued by the students (and even by some of the other staff as well). Woe is me….

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