Green Flash and Brown Noddy

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

 This update came in from Keith Rittmaster July 27, 2011 from the NOAA Marine Mammal Assessment Cruise.
Above is a picture of a Brown Noddy that hitched a ride on board for awhile.    He wrote in his email  that Capes Hatteras and Lookout are  marine mammal hotspots, and Lookout is a loggerhead hotspot.  But Lookout also seemed to be the trash hotspot.  He also said how interesting it was to experience the different biology of the inner and outer continental shelves.  

   He continues: “Now we’re in blue water off northern Florida and seeing pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, and grampus whales around the inner shelf break.  No sperm whales since Lookout.  We saw a mola breach high out of the water which I would have never imagined could be possible.  In fact I didn’t believe my eyes, but 2 other people saw it too.  
Offshore bottlenose dolphins are very entertaining bow riders twisting and doing back flops.” 
These pictures of the green flash are amazing, they are the best representation of it that I have seen. All the decades I’ve lived on one coast or the other and looked for the green flash, I never saw one. (You may want to enlarge the pictures to see it better).
Today’s Dining Room fare:  Wahoo ceviche for dinner.  Quesadillas with mango salsa for lunch.  Every breakfast has ‘ship made’ yogurt, fruit salad, pancakes, and omelets to order.  Our bananas are on the way out so we’ve been eating lots of banana bread. The chef even makes soy milk and tofu on board from organic soybeans.” 
I know he misses home but it’s hard to feel too, too sorry for him.

July 2nd Dispatch from Keith on Marine Mammal Observation Cruise – 55 miles off Cape Lookout, NC

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Keith continues on the NOAA Marine Mammal Observation cruise.
On July 2nd they were at the tip of the red arrow.The nearest point of land was Cape Lookout where on board they were seeing/hearing lots of sperm whales!!!  The latest group was 3 calves at the surface – presumably the moms were below foraging.  The calves were silent but the others that were deep could be heard – “knock..knock..knock” like a distant carpenter.  The acoustics folks who monitor 6 towed hydrophones 24/7 said not only can they hear sperm whales click, but they can tell when the whales capture and swallow a squid.  Wow.  
On June 30th, Keith reported that it was rough and stormy the night before,   so that morning, they moved to an inside track where the weather was better.   There they saw bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, and 3 loggerhead sea turtles (they didn’t see any turtles further offshore). There were lots of Wilson’s storm petrels too.  
And finally, to the really important info., Keith says:
    “The food on board is nothing short of incredible.  Chicken cordon bleu last night, roast duck breasts tonight, with homemade sweet potato pie – “Mississippi sweet potatoes, not those inferior NC sweet potatoes” exclaimed our very talented, educated, and upbeat chef Margaret who wears tie dyes and listens to the Grateful Dead.  Delicious guacamole, hummus with warm pita bread, fresh squeezed limeade” are often available too. 
Maybe he’ll bring us all a doggie bag.