|An Ocean of Light in the North Pacific Gyre|
|Tuesday, 03 November 2009|
In addition to all of the small animals we were netting and capturing, we were really hoping to land some larger fish. The crew and James Leichter were fishing nearly everyday in hopes of catching dorado or other species so that their organs and tissues could be examined. Ultimately everyone aboard was looking at different ways marine debris affects our environment and ultimately us. They finally landed a dorado and the back deck turned into the operating room as Jim Leichter dissected and filleted the fish our crew caught. So while the scientists took organs and tissue samples, the chef was getting ready to serve it up for dinner! One of the questions every one wants to know is how does this all affect us.
A couple hours later I was able to escape to the bow of the boat for my special time and witness an ocean of light. This is taken from my journal.
August 13, 2009
Our daylight hours are much longer as we have moved farther west. My favorite time is in the evening when we get to watch the earth rotate, most people know this as sunset, but to me I always contemplate the fact that this is the only time we get to see our globe spin on her axis and watch the earthís rotation. Last night I was going to go to bed early and spent an hour photographing the light dancing across the Oceanís surface. For the past six days I have been truly amazed with the golden hour and watching the sun paint the Ocean. In all my life I have never seen so many amazing sunsets for a week straight and there is something magical being in the North Pacific Gyre. As I went to lay my camera to bed and rest my head, graduate student researcher, Pete Davison, handed me yet another amazing fish to photograph, a juvenile flying fish. As an underwater photographer and cinematographer I have dreamed of seeing some of the creatures that have been pulled up from the deep in the Oozeki net. I have photographed dragon fish, angler fish and juvenile eels and even one specimen that had the nickname of googly-eyed squid. We could tell he had organs under his eyes to attract prey. Pete studies Lantern fish and one of the aspects he will look at upon returning is to see if these fish are eating plastic. It is interesting because now that we are out in the North Pacific Gyre and surrounded by confetti coating the surface, the pieces are broken down small enough that these fish could potentially eat the small pieces of plastic.
There was no resisting the temptation to photograph the juvenile flying fish and afterwards I took a quick trip to the bow of the boat to star gaze and give gratitude for yet another day of discovering more questions to the disturbing issue of all of the plastics broken down in our Ocean. Upon walking out into the darkness on the bow, I was overcome with a sky full of lights. In a period of 30 seconds I watched 3 shooting stars fly through the air. I ran back down to our floating wet lab and let everyone know that the most spectacular star-show was happening on deck. I am absolutely mesmerized by the night sky. I find it extraordinary that when the Europeans were hugging the coast because they believed the world was flat that the Polynesians had traveled more than 2000 miles settling the entire south pacific. These extraordinary navigators had no modern equipment like we are using: GPS, Satellite and radars; the Polynesians navigated with the wind, the waves, marine life, birds and the stars. And here I was, lying on the deck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean looking at a galaxy of stars and feeling so small while experiencing pure pleasure. Less than an hour ago I had been photographing fish from 700 meters deep and now I was imagining what life would be like as a Pacific Islander. From across the bow, I was awakened from my dream,
Graduate Student Jesse Powell asked, "Annie, would you spend ten years of your life traveling to another planet if you could?"
"Absolutely, no questions asked!" as I gazed into the Milky Way and knew there was no way that we could be the only planet with life. There were millions of stars shining overhead. We know less about the deep ocean then we do about the surface of the moon. There is so much to discover, to learn and to imagine. And as our vessel cruised through the Gyre at 9 knots I watched an electric light show in the midnight sky, a sight never to be forgotten.
Oh to awaken to another day.
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