Monday, June 21, 2010

Bering Sea Day 5/6: Short-tailed albatross & missed opportunities

An endangered short-tailed albatross. There are only around 2,000 left in the world. I saw one today! You cam kind of see some of the swells we've been experiencing too.
Copyright (c) 2010 Wendee Holtcamp

Is it only day 6? I feel like I've been here forever. I'm getting pretty homesick already. I did not do much today, to be honest. Yesterday that storm came, but it wasn't the kind of storm I was thinking of. It was gale-force winds, grey skies and a bit of drizzle. In fact it's still going on. And even more in fact, I was told that this may last another 2 or 3 days. We have 8-10 foot swells, with an occasional 12-15.

The boat was rocking and rolling pretty good last night and I wasn't the only one thinking (and praying) that hopefully the boat won't sink! I am in the top bunk so wedged a pillow on the side so I had something protecting me from falling right off. I finally was able to fall asleep but then I'd get woken up by the crazy waves, slamming against the ship. The amazing thing is that I didn't take any medicine but didn't get seasick! One of the crew members, Terrence, told me the first day to wean myself off the medicine because my body would get used to the motion naturally. So I did that, and it seems to be working.

It seems I'm always in the wrong place to see the cool stuff on this trip. Snrises and sunsets are rare out here because there are almost always clouds, but this morning at around 6am there was a gorgeous sunset. My roommate Diane graciously allowed me to use this photo below to show it off. Wow! Also, they saw some Dall's porpoises off the boat today. But what I did see is... drum roll please.... a juvenile short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus)! There are only around 2,000 left in the world and they all nest on an island - Torishima - in Japan. I took a couple very bad photos, but one of the guys on board, Greg, got some great shots from the spring cruise and he also is allowing me to use them. And last, Colin let me put up some of his very cool photos of the storm. So... I can't say that I took a lot of pictures the last couple days but I'll share what I have: others cool photos!

Instead, have been working on the computer all day, finishing up some critiques for my online writing classes I teach (next one starts July 24!). I also got Skype set up so I can start recording podcasts for the next Wendee Holtcamp Report on Adventures in Climate Change. I've been recording snippets of video here and there also, and my editor may get weave her magic to put them together into something interesting. That doesn't sound like a whole lot. Where did the day go? We had a delicious peanut sauce, pasta, and stir-fried veggies tonight, and pineapple upside down cake with fresh whipping cream. Yum!

Right now we're at a deep station, and that means I am going to stay up until 2am, because it's a good spot to watch the scientists pull up the Bongo drums at night (something I have not yet seen) because the krill bioluminesce more at the deeper site for some reason. I will have to check on that one.

Meanwhile go check out my 2nd installment of the Bering Sea Project reports on Nature's The Great Beyond blog... And I leave you with more photos - some mine, most others'!

The absolutely stunning sunrise that I missed! Photo Courtesy of Diane Stoecker.
Another shot of this morning's sunrise (that I missed) - Photo Courtesy of Diane Stoecker.
Another shot of the big swells! Photo Courtesy Colin Smith.
The waves crashing on the fantail/back deck. Photo Courtesy Colin Smith.
Photo Courtesy Colin Smith.
A close-up of the albatross - not a super great pic but it's all I could get through a window and with it far away.
A shot of the albatross taking off on the water. I think it's cool you can see the tracks it left in the water when it "ran" on the water to take off.


Steven Newton said...

Man, that's great! What a rare sighting. Just one oil spill at Torishima, and they're extinct.

I remember seeing a monk seal hauled out on Kauai a year ago, and there's only about 1000 of them left in the world. I fear we'll both live to hear the sad news, some years in the future, that these two species are gone...

I'm glad your seasickness is abating. Remember, both Darwin & astronaut Frank Bormann were sick as dogs in the initial stages of their voyages. :)

Jim Mau said...

Wendy - Re: your tummy and the sea. Try an old trick that used to work for this old salt, soda crackers (a.k.a. saltines). But most of all enjoy your time and place, real treasures in beauty of life.