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14 March, 2000

It snowed all last night as we worked. It was beautiful drifting down on us on the deck of the ship. Now it is foggy for the second day, but the temperature warmed up to 7 degrees. We are finishing up Site B. We are mostly working with nets today. Plankton tows and Otter trawls are being deployed to get a representative sample of the organisms. The underwater camera is also deployed to give us a view of the sea floor at this site.

This morning was a real treat. While using the Tucker Trawl to collect plankton, a pod of about 10 Humpback whales arrived off our stern. They swam with us for about 4 hours. It was difficult to

know which way to look at times there were so many of them. Our time was divided between our work and our cameras. The Humpbacks are in the Southern Ocean to feed on the same plankton that we are trying to collect in our nets. Although they are some of the world's largest animals, they feed on some of the smallest. A structure called

baleen hangs from the outer edge of their mouths. Baleen is a series of fibrous strands made of a substance similar to our fingernails.

The whales fill their mouths with water and then squeeze the water out through their baleen which traps the plankton called krill. It

is amazing that a giant whale can find enough tiny krill to keep it alive. As summer ends here in the Southern Hemisphere the whales

will migrate north toward the equator and warmer waters.

Humpback whales swim off our stern.

The Tucker Trawl has three different chambers to collect plankton at three levels in the water column at once.

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