Today was another beautiful day on the Bering Sea with the sun shining and relatively calm seas. It is another transit day so we are moving quickly northward to our first sampling stations which we should reach by Wednesday afternoon. With St. Lawrence Island behind us in the early morning, we continued to cruise observing birds and seeing lots of whales and a walrus! Very cool.
King Island in the Distance next to a snow squall
In the late afternoon, in the distance loomed the Diomede Islands, marking the middle of the Bering Strait. Ever since I can remember, I had wanted to see the Bering Strait and here it was right in front of me with Russia to the west and Alaska to the east. We had perfect weather to see far into the distance with a few snow squalls dotting the horizon. As we came upon the Diomedes, it became hard to imagine how people can live in this super harsh remote environment, but there are small communities living on both islands. With Fairway Rock glinting in the sunlight, we passed the Diomedes and through the Bering Strait with the occasional bird and whale cruising by. It was a beautiful afternoon and hard to imagine that I am actually here.
Fairway Rock in the Sunshine with Little Diomede Behind
Shortly after, we crossed the Arctic Circle officially entering the Arctic and are that much closer to our study site. The day ended with a beautiful sunset over Russia and a sky filled with stars and an orange half moon. It is getting colder and colder as we head north. I am very excited to get the science started tomorrow!
The sun setting over Russia as we pass through the Bering Strait
With an early start to the day (0500), back up to the north, the CTD was in the water. The trawl was in and fishing by 0600 for a three hour tow. At 0900, the tow came up and was as expected with a nice concentration of post-smolts although they are quite small. The trawl went out again for four hours on the second tow but the haul had far fewer fish than anticipated. With that in mind, we steamed north a bit for the third tow. We are kind of zigzagging along a contour in order to find higher numbers of post-smolts.
After ending the day with a smaller number of post-smolts, we are steaming farther north to sample tomorrow into the northerly current. We should be above 68°N in the morning to begin sampling so in fact our first proclamation of the northernmost point of the voyage will be incorrect.
The day was filled with quite a bit of wildlife though. We saw a few sperm whales cruising on the surface in addition to two minke whales and a fin whale. There are quite a few fulmars following the ship as well.
Sperm Whale Fluke
A fulmar soaring past the ship
I am quite excited to be heading so far north. Perhaps we will get some sunshine but the fog is rolling in so it is not looking promising.
As many people know, I set strange goals for myself. One was to set foot on the seven continents before I was 25, I did this…Well going below the Antarctic Circle and above the Arctic Circle before I am 30 is another of these goals. With passing the Arctic Circle this evening at 10:43, I have accomplished this goal! Needless to say, I am very excited so I took a picture next to the map with the location.
We are now above the Arctic Circle just west of the Voering Plateau…Still steaming…