The crew of six and myself (three students from UH Hilo and Donovan Hoen, writing up the expedition for the New York Times Magazine), have just weathered the roughest conditions experienced aboard ORV Alguita this year. After sampling 50 miles south of the Big Island along the chlorophyll front recommended by Dave Foley (see attached graphic), we beat into 12 foot seas and 35 knot winds under genoa and mainsail back toward the Island so we could lower the genoa and put up the staysail. Waves were breaking over the bow and covering the entire boat from stem to stern. But we got our sample, albeit at the limit of the ability of the manta trawl to collect consistent data. We also sampled in the lee of South Point, which acts as a seive for debris, and found very little plastic there. Last night's sail from Hilo gave spectacular views of Puu O'o's latest eruption. We could see lava shooting up and an orange glow on the side of Mauna Loa. Currently we are heading southeast from the Point to sample the other side of the chlorophyll bloom where debris may accumulate. To quote Dave Foley:"The image (chlorophyll a from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua spacecraft) shows two distinct water masses. I wuld expect collection of material along the edges of those water masses." The green lines in the image indicate those edges. We will see what the manta trawls up tomorrow, and Monday on our way back to Hilo.
Aloha from south of the Big Island in a comfortable 25 knots of wind,