Dark red squid dart about the port side of the Bobby C with many eager scientists hoping to catch one on their elaborate jigs. This species, Stenoteuthis oualaniensis, is characterized by a large dorsal photophore. Chilled squid tubes, or motels we jokingly call them, are ready to receive these cephalopods for respirometry experiments. I currently have an 80 lb monofilament conventional fishing outfit down 200 ft with a glow stick and whole flying fish in the hopes of catching a swordfish, Xiphias gladius. Hove to in the middle of tropical Pacific, fishing and science go hand in hand.
Earlier today the whole crew surprised me with ice cream cookie sandwiches for my birthday. Some prior scouting by Frido and Anja let Sayzie know exactly what type of cake I love. A beautiful hand drawn card with fish and all from Erin and signed by everyone really made me feel at home. I can’t thank everyone enough for making my day special, even though we couldn’t drive towards the birds hovering above hordes of yellowfin tuna near Washington Island.
Between the five weeks ashore and the two already passed at sea, I feel as if we are all part of a family. The love and support aboard the ship make the tough days nonexistent and the great ones even better. We are all so fortunate to go on this unbelievable journey to learn oceanography, ecology, and nautical science in the tropical Pacific. Yet, what I find myself most thankful for are the people around me who make this experience so unique and fun. While there is still much left to do on this trip that I am eagerly awaiting, I also am looking forward to spending time with all of my new friends next year.
Tomorrow morning we will arrive at Fanning Island of the Kiribati nation. More project work will be conducted and visits to land will be cherished. Walter and I will be fishing buddies for Fanning and Christmas, searching after fish of the flats and shallow reefs. Bonefish, trevally, triggerfish, snapper, and sharks will be our primary targets and if we find any that are as big as those at Palmyra Atoll then a few world records may be in store. If we catch any solid fish they will one day be celebrated with the drink Chief Scientist Jan Witting and I have been designing called the Black Pearl, which is made unique by a pearl of frozen squid ink suspended in coconut rum. Until then we will be conducting more science, setting sail, and all becoming better friends.
P.S. – Love you Mom, Dad, Dani, Ali, and Rossi!!!!