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sunny weather

84°F (28.9°C)
Latitude: 20 deg 48’S
Longitude: 60 deg 15’E
Wind Direction: E
Wind Speed: 12 Knots
Sea State 2
Swell(s) Height: 3 Foot
Sea Temperature: 80 °F (26.7°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1015.8 MB Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?


Daily Update: Packing up
April 30, 2001
By Amy Nevala

We left Mauritius a month ago carrying 70 tons of equipment on Knorr’s decks and in the labs, and we return even heavier. Consider the rocks Geologist Susan Humphris collected. She has 350 pounds of sulfides that ROV Jason collected from the two hydrothermal vent sites. She and Dan Fornari also dredged 1,650 pounds of volcanic rocks from the Central Indian Ridge rift valley and on Knorr Seamount.

Thankfully she doesn’t have to carry them home in her suitcase. Except for a plastic baggie of lava glass chips and a box of scrapings from the sulfide samples, her rocks will return to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with Knorr at the end of August. The ship is needed for several more research expeditions before it returns to its home port.

Scientists spent today carefully packing labeled vials, bags and boxes of biology, chemistry and geology samples for the long journey home. Chemist Chi Meredith collected 600 bottles of water samples, each one acidified to keep the hydrothermal vent metals in solution. Her samples will travel on a ship from Mauritius to the Pacific Northwest.

Microbial Biologist Colleen Cavanaugh and her graduate student Zoe McKiness will pack the majority of their samples in their backpacks. They spent this afternoon discussing how to pack small Styrofoam coolers containing neatly-labeled bottles of sulfide scrapings, bacteria samples, bits of tissue from mussels, snails and shrimp.

“We hand-carry everything because they are priceless samples,” said Colleen. “Otherwise we risk the samples getting crushed or lost or stolen.”

The sound of ripping tape, pounding hammers and shouted questions like “where are my scissors?” and “anyone have a screwdriver I can borrow?” reverberated from emptying labs throughout the ship. The decks piled high with labeled boxes containing everything from computers to chairs to film, each destined for a spot in the vans and then for scientists’ labs in Britain, California, Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Oregon and New Hampshire.

While scientists scrambled to get all their gear packed, the DSOG team faced an even more daunting task. They are dismantling the heavy equipment and electronics required to operate Jason. After two 10-hour days of work, they still have to fit all the vehicles into the shipping containers and then get the winch, drum of fiber optic cable, vehicles and shipping containers off the ship when we get to Mauritius.

The sun is blazing close to 90°F as we near Mauritius and the ship’s “pool” today had plenty of aching, hard-working bodies to fill it. Graduate student Rachel Gallant, reading near the pool, could practically taste land today when a flock of terns paid a visit to the starboard side of the ship. “Hey did you see that?” she said with a wide grin and a nod to the noisy birds, the first flock we’ve seen in weeks. “There’s hope of land yet!

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