Cruise update 7/26/13

The geographic expansion of hypoxia along our westward transit continues. We had to go all the way to the most southern station of the I line, I9, before reaching a zone without bottom hypoxia. Today we are transiting back north along the J line and will reach K. In keeping with Nancy’s commitment to science communication, particularly with the lay public, she and Leslie are creating and maintaining a real-time map of bottom DO concentrations here. It’s fascinating to watch this develop. The vertical profiles that come off the CTD are the most exciting parts of the day, and we frequently make bets now as to how low the O2 will be and at what depth. Gene Turner usually wins the bets. He and Nancy have developed a sixth sense for the distribution of hypoxia after this many years of study.

It’s generally been a beautiful cruise. The full moon a few nights ago was breathtaking as it peaked in and out of the clouds. At night the oil platforms dot the horizon line like low-lying stars. The night shift has seen crabs at the surface, particularly in the areas of bottom hypoxia. There’s also a lot of Sargassum sea weed in the Gulf. I’m used to seeing it in the Sargasso Sea, but I had no idea it grew here. Of course a quick search shows that it grows all over the world and there are many different species. We’ve also seen dolphins, birds, fish and I noticed a giant comb jelly near some Sargassum yesterday afternoon.

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