Day 2: 1/22/08
Our noon position: Longitude: 2024.570 N, Latitude: 15813.145 W
Continuing on our westward course. Steady winds have been propelling us along at 6-10 knots – a fair clip for those unaccustomed to thinking in nautical terms. Question: how do we calculate a nautical mile? Weather conditions should remain constant for a few more days, 4-5 foot waves, gently heaving swells dotted with whitecaps, warm, sunny skies.
Though today held relatively little in the way of debris – winds were still too powerful to sample - it was far from uneventful. Beginning with our Sashimi catch for the day…We hooked a sizable bull Mahi Mahi that took considerable patience, 4 crew members, and serious muscle to reel in. Having never seen Mahi Mahi outside of a restaurant, I was struck by its beauty - bright iridescent emerald-yellow, with a flat, bull-shaped head.
Upon finally hauling it on deck, we noticed a perfect bite mark, tell tale signs of a cookie cutter shark. Question: how big are cookie cutter sharks, and what is their primary prey? Perhaps we hooked his dinner right from his mouth…..
Boats require constant maintenance, as all boat owners know. Today was no exception. Faulty welding back in Hilo had burned a hole in our hull, into which a steady stream of water was trickling. “This could be a problem” is not a phrase one hopes to hear from the Captain….
Fortunately, our nimble boat monkey Jeff was able to fix the problem, squeezing into an uncomfortably tight space, and patching the hole with epoxy glue. Many high fives and relieved smiles were thrown his way. Kudos!
Though we may not have had direct encounters today with marine debris, the lessons drawn from today’s main events – catching a fish, and dealing with boat repairs, can be applied metaphorically to larger issues.
The Mahi Mahi was a reminder that we depend entirely on the natural world for our food, our sustenance, and our survival. The ocean appears limitless, yet as we will see in a few days, our human impact travels far and wide;
And the boat repairs reminded us that everything requires maintenance - our bodies, our vehicles, and most importantly, our ecosystems. (Question for students: what is the second law of thermodynamics? How might we apply this to the statement above?). If we want to continue coexisting on this planet, we need to begin treating it with the care we often reserve for prized personal possessions.
Tomorrow, we'll provide some more background on what we plan to study in the gyre. In the meantime:
Aloha from the Captain and the Crew of ORV Alguita.