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April 24: Ice and Sun

I started the day photographing some net tows in anticipation of learning about the mesozooplankton (copepods, krill, etc) grazing experiments being conducted by a team of scientists on the ship.  I stayed out on deck for quite a while while various plankton was collected along with some bottom grabs of mud.  It was quite chilly at about 25 degrees Fahrenheit with a stiff breeze.  The swells were sizable but not too bad.  The water temperature was hovering around -1.7 degrees Celsius which is just above the freezing point which is lower than the freezing point of freshwater. 



Shortly after we headed back north and were in the ice!  I was sitting at my desk and started hearing the crunch of the hull breaking through the ice at which point I looked at the images available from the bridge and saw that indeed we were surrounded by large islands of ice intermixed with slush.  It looked beautiful and endless so I headed outside to see it for myself.  (My desk area is in a lab without any portholes so it is easy to lose track of what is going on around me.)  The sun had come out and it was shining on the endless white undulating sea.  I headed up to the bridge to get a better vantage point at which time someone spotted some seals on a ice patch.  They were in the distance but it was still nice to see a seal or two.  Hopefully it is only the beginning of the beautiful things that are to come.  We remained in the ice for a little while and then just after dinner we were back in open water.  There is something amazing about crossing the ice edge.  The swells roll in seeming to go under the ice and the wake of the ship pushes the ice aside with ease. 



Now it is about 10:00 pm and it is still sunny with some clouds.  The sun sets at 11:30 so I am hoping to see a beautiful Bering Sea sunset.  It has been cloudy every other evening that I have been out here so I am anxious to see a setting sun.