1:45 am, our daily alarm clock sounds: “Marcus, Anna, your watch is up in 20 minutes...” Despite Marjolin’s sweet, gentle voice, we groan in protest. For several days, finding a safe position to fall asleep in without being thrown out of our bunks has been a losing battle. We’re all sleep deprived. Aside from our skipper Clive, these are the heaviest seas any of us have seen.
We haven’t had a chance to observe the subtle changes in the oceans surface for the last few days, distracted by massive waves. We now notice: no more floating patches of Sargassum. We wonder if we’re still in the “Atlantic garbage patch”. A quick glance at our trawl answers our question: the same collection of small plastic fragments, 3 nurdles, and a few surprises:
“Look at that! 3 Portuguese Man of War!” Marcus picks one up by its inflated air bladder, careful to avoid the deceptively alluring, still stinging tentacles. A small piece of plastic is nestled amongst the bright blue tentacles. These potent creatures are actually comprised of a colony of different polyps, each with distinct functions, that work together. A very cool, cooperative survival tactic. Just keep your distance!
We’ll trawl one more time tonight, during our 10:00 watch – our 35th and final trawl. We’re now less than 300 miles from the Azores, and beginning to reflect on the last 6 weeks. The same questions echo from friends and crew: have we found what we expected? Is this similar to what we've seen in the North Pacific? What comes next? We'll touch on some of these tomorrow, now back to research!