Dec 16, 2020 – Grant Milne, UNH
Hello AR49 ADEON cruise blog readers! It’s the new guy, back again to tell you more about the fantastic experiences I’ve had at sea. The other bloggers have done a great job describing all of the research happenings on board ship, including lander recoveries, Jason dives, and net tows on the night crew. Besides all this rigorous and exciting work, there have been a number of other interesting things happening during our cruise.
On one night with a particularly vibrant sunset, I received a message from Dr. Jen Miksis-Olds that read simply “Dolphins,” so I grabbed the spotting binoculars and walked briskly up to the bow (much like a public pool, there’s no running on the deck). To my dismay, I had missed them by a minute or two, so I lingered on the bow for a bit to take in the wonderful sunset and lament at my missed dolphin opportunity. Suddenly, Jen exclaimed, “Fin, fin!” as she pointed off the starboard bow. Jen, Tony, and I pondered whether it could have been a shark, when the fin reappeared, this time flapping clumsily back and forth at the surface. Almost instantly, they recognized it as a Mola mola, or oceanic sunfish. These peculiar looking fish can reach up to 1,000 kg and nearly two meters, though the individual we encountered was smaller, perhaps around a meter long. We watched as the dopey fish drifted past the bow, still waving its dorsal fin awkwardly as we moved past, as if to say goodbye to the ship.
Another unforgettable experience was watching the Geminid meteor shower. I set an alarm for 2 AM, as this was the peak hour for observation on December 13th, though the shower will last through the 17th. I woke up on my own at 1:45 and figured an extra 15 minutes of stars couldn’t hurt. I threw on a sweatshirt, grabbed some headphones, and headed out to the bow where there was very little light to cloud my view of the stars. Immediately, I was amazed at the sheer number of meteors, as there were perhaps 4 or 5 that zipped across the sky within the first minute of being outside. I watched for over an hour, listening to soothing music and admiring all of the different types of shooting stars. Some appeared as orbs of light with stubby tails that seemed to hover along short paths, others formed sharp points with “V” shaped tails trailing off of them, and a rare few left long yellow, orange, or green tails that lingered for a half second as they streamed across the sky. It was a truly breathtaking experience, and I would highly recommend checking out the next meteor shower if given the opportunity.
I’ve had a fantastic time on the cruise so far. All of the landers are now on board, and Carmen and I constructed sundaes to celebrate. I went a little overboard on mine and had to struggle through finishing the last couple of spoonfuls. With all of the landers completed, the Jason crew is now in the process of completing some engineering dives, and then we’re headed back north into colder weather.