[editor's note, by Jason] Jon Warrenchuk is currently participating in NOAA's 2004 Gulf of Alaska Seamount Expedition. He was unable to get to a PC to blog on the 8th, so we rejoin him on the 11th day of his expedition.
August 09, 2004: For the next few days we'll be sampling Welker seamount.
Today the crab elevator is ascending from 2700 meters deep near the base of Welker. It's loaded with deep-sea spider crab, Macoregonia macocura (or "Mac macs" as they're affectionately known). We've caught 29 "Mac macs", our biggest haul yet. Matt Foster, a student from the University of Washington, will take blood and tissue samples for an undergraduate project. We also check the shell condition, note parasites, and count missing legs. A few crabs have a bryozoan colony sprouting from roughly the same position on the rear walking leg. Why there? It's a mystery. But the bryozoans are plucked off and placed in vials for further study.
The spouts and backs of Fin whales are seen off the stern. Fin whales are second only to the blue whale in size. We can tell that they're Fin whales as they have a distinctive grey "chevron" on the back of their head. Also, their curved dorsal fins break the surface after they spout. Smaller minke and sei whales have similar-shaped dorsal fins, but you'll see the spout and the dorsal fin at the same time. The whales stay in the area for most of the day, evidence that Welker seamount is a preferred feeding area.
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