Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Saturday, November 7

In the night hours

Retrieving the ScanFish
Retrieving the ScanFish.

Since my last post, our luck took a turn for the worst.  The ScanFish had its first dip into the water but remained operational for only an hour before the instrument overheated, causing a system failure.  The glider likewise suffered technical issues and ceased to dive, and noise from an internal source interfered with the LIDAR’s performance.  As you can imagine, the mood turned subdued.  Oh, the pitfalls of science.

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Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Friday, November 6

A good day’s work in 90 minutes

Whew, what a morning! Right at sunrise, the crew gathered with two objectives: deploy a glider and replace a sensor on a mooring. I am happy to say both efforts were successful. The glider came first. A crane dipped it into the water to test how it would float. Then it was time for lubrication. No, that was not a mistype. Marine mammals can be curious creatures, so scientists over the years have come up with some creative deterrents. Lubrication and fishnet pantyhose have a good track record. After being covered, into the water the glider went.

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Coating the glider to deter marine life.

Continue reading “Pelican Updates from Laura”


Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Thursday, November 5

Fun with Lasers

On the bow of the Pelican, the box pictured below is Alan Weidemann’s LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system.  It emits laser pulses that can aid in the study of subsurface features like chlorophyll subsurface maximums (higher concentrations of phytoplankton at some depth).  Essentially, it looks at how the light field in the water is affected by the presence of chlorophyll, and the time it takes for a pulse of the LIDAR to return indicates depth.  Cool stuff!

The LIDAR, mounted on the bow.
The LIDAR, mounted on the bow.

Continue reading “Pelican Updates from Laura”


Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Wednesday, November 4, morning
Morning Ops

Pel 1104 Pt Sur from Pelican LH

The Point Sur in sight of the Pelican

We continue to be blessed with clear skies and calm seas, but rough weather may be in the forecast for the weekend.  Thankfully, our deck has been emptying hour by hour, so if and/or when the rain comes, we will be sampling the seas rather than deploying equipment.  Our sister ship in the CONCORDE cruises, the R/V Point Sur, has been in viewing range most of the morning.  Ahoy!  Originally, the plan for today had been for both ships to sample the waters of the mixing array.  Unfortunately, deploying the Barneys and line moorings has taken longer than expected.  As a result, while the Point Sur takes samples, we continue to put equipment in the water.  I have enjoyed listening to radio chatter between the two crews.

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Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Monday, November 2, 11:00 p.m.
A Glider in Need

Earlier this evening, we received a request to retrieve a leaking Rutgers Slocum glider.  The original idea had been to wait until morning for retrieval, but given our proximity to the glider’s coordinates, we headed in search of the vehicle.

Continue reading “Pelican Updates from Laura”


Pelican Updates from Laura

USM Marine Science graduate student Laura Handzel is blogging from the R/V Pelican during our Fall Research Campaign.

Sunday, November 1

Salt! In prepping for departure, my thoughts turn to the history of oceanography, so much of which has focused on determining the temperature and salinity of seawater at various depths and throughout the global ocean. Finding the answer to both how warm and how salty the ocean is has been littered with a surprising number of difficulties. Curiously, for much of recorded history, salt has been considered as valuable as gold. In the days before refrigeration, salt provided one of the best ways to preserve food, so even pirates coveted it. A Norwegian fairytale even tells of a boat skipper who acquired a magical hand mill. After commanding it to grind salt, the mill worked so enthusiastically, it turned the freshwater of the ocean to saltwater. Salinity continues to be a critical component to measure. Marine species prefer certain salinity ranges, density differences caused by varying salt content contribute to ocean currents and stratification, and even the types of ions in seawater salt vary.

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