Happy Monday, or is it Sunday?

The work week is off to a beautifully sunny start here in the Gulf of Alaska. I say “work week” and “start,” but we are on a floating microcosm out here on the JR, working throughout the weekend and into the next week. To make the most of our time at sea all of our scientists, staff, and crew work 12 hour days for nearly 60 days straight. Often, we don’t know what day it is, and being at such a high latitude with long days we’re lucky if we know whether it’s day or night! There are almost 130 of us out here, living afloat over 12,000 feet of water, nearly 130 miles from Kodiak Island, AK, and we work 84 hours a week.

To some it might seem crazy, but everyone out here really seems to love it. Why do we do it and, moreover, why do we enjoy it so much?

I think the short answer is that we all appreciate the process of scientific discovery. The technicians, crew, and scientists all take great pride in the work that we’re doing out here. It reminds me of the following poem, "Melinda Mae" by Shel Siverstein, because we all challenge ourselves to do things that for others might seem impossible (and, yes, we've seen a lot of whales!).

"Melinda Mae" by Shel Silverstein

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said,"You're much too small,"
But that didn't bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should...

...and eighty-nine years later she ate that whale
Because she said she would!!!

And I wonder what our Education Officer, Carol Larson, is thinking about in the photo above, as she watches whales on this sunny Monday? We’ve definitely learned to appreciate being outside on days like today, especially when there are whales on the horizon!

In other news, we're starting another hole at our first site, U1417. The XCB drill shoe sheared off in hole D (this is a bummer), so for the past 24 hours or so our drill crew has been preparing to core down to the same depth that we left off in hole D (around 400 m below the sea floor). There were some interesting and new (to us!) lithologies at depth in hole D, so we're really exctied to see what comes up in hole E! Stay tuned...the core is on its way up right now!

Also, this morning in our weekly lifeboat drill we learned how to operate the ship pyrotechnics in the event of an emergency. Don't worry, I'll keep my eye on E&O tomfoolery wizard, Carol Larson, to make sure she stays away from them!

The week is off to a good start!


Maine to Alaska

Hi Alison,
I have been enjoying your blog entries and those from the paleolab. Your descriptions are vivid and I am learning a lot as I read about your adventures.



Hi Jeff,

I'm glad you are enjoying the expedition! We are too :) Thanks for following along!


Human and Whale Watching?

Dear Alison,

The whales are boat and human watching! The JR will be interesting to them. It is not often that they see a boat on the surface with a big hole in the hull (Moon Pool).

Carol the "Tomfoolery Wizard" - yes, I agree with you.


They are watching us!

Hi Joseph,

Yes, I think the whales are very curious as to what we're doing out here! A handful of lucky people have even spotted some seals right next to the ship. There is a lot of life out here!

Thanks for your comments :)

Seals Around JR

Dear Alison,

Do they know which species of seals that were swimming around the JR?

Best wishes,