11 February, 1998
Last night as the sky slowly dimmed, we slowly approached the first beginnings of Tickle Passage. There were a few scattered icebergs, but little sea ice. We entered and as the light grew less, the pack ice increased. At first the captain sidestepped pieces of ice as if he were avoiding the first blow. Then the ice was all the way across, and to proceed, we had to meet it.
Cautiously, we waited for the sounds as we passed into the ice. Nothing. A faint crunching, and then the ice passed by. We headed into areas that seemed mostly white. The captain turned on his front light beams to help him detect what was iceberg and what was sea ice. What is the difference between the two? How could he tell one from the other? Three hours had passed since many of science crew members had come up to the bridge to watch the show of ship meeting ice. Every once in awhile, the Gould would shudder a bit and we would hear some crunching as the ice, crushed and broken, swept passed the ship's sides. I moved to the back area of the bridge away from the lights and other people. This area afforded a good side view. I had not been there long when I spotted 5 lonely penguins on a large piece of ice. Frightened by the ship's proximity, they waddled off the ice into the inky water. Several minutes later, I saw the fin of a humpback whale as it proceeded in the opposite direction of our ship. (Were the penguins in danger because of the humpback whale?) Congratulating myself on the obviously animal-rich side of the boat, I strained my eyes looking for more signs of life. There was no more to be seen. I had seen it all I was to see in the space of 5 minutes. Ah, well, Finally, the realization that morning and its duties would call entirely too soon and most of us headed for bed. The ice noise was a bit greater in the cabins than it had been in the bridge, but not so loud as to keep sleep away. I was told by the ship's Second Mate who had watch at 4:00 AM that the pack ice got thick enough at one point that they had to accelerate to push the ship through some, but it really wasn't a problem. The Laurence M. Gould has proven its worth in pack ice.
Today was light as far as science projects. A few CTD stations were attended by water-collecting scientists, along with plankton nets and PRR. But mostly, those who have taken data are entering it into a variety of specially written computer programs for help in analysis.
On the bridge, Peter reported seeing a couple of Orcas and several humpback whales. Tomorrow I hope to spend some time up on the bridge also. I have yet to see an Orca in the wild. Wish me luck!
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