If it were easy, it would have already been done

(This post was originally published September 16, 2021. Posts have been manually reordered for more logical storytelling. To go to the next post in the sequence, click “Previous Post” at bottom.)

We are repaired! The Pacific Storm is back — thanks to our awesome crew and their expertise. With half of September gone, we do not have adequate time to reach the gyre, conduct our research, and return home by the end of the month (the round-trip transit alone requires the better part of two weeks) — but there are beaked whale mysteries to investigate right here in the seas off Oregon (and seaward to 200 miles where we would like to work). So, we are anxious to resume our research.

Jay Barlow (NOAA) and Bob Pitman (OSU) deploy the first of two passive acoustic drifters (Drifting Acoustic Spar Buoy Recorders, or DASBRs) that are being set about five miles apart. For up to two weeks, these buoys will record sounds from the ocean, including those made by cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Photo by Craig Hayslip.

Unfortunately, the weather seems to have other plans. Winds at our hoped-for destination will be 25 miles/hr by midday Friday, with seas at 7 feet and increasing to 12 feet by Sunday. Of course, this could change, and we will be watching the weather constantly and continuously.

But we need to make a plan now. So this morning (Thursday), we left Newport at first light and are sailing due west to a point 60 miles offshore, where we will deploy two passive acoustic recorders. (More on these later.) Immediately afterward, we will head back to Newport, arriving late in the evening that same day, to shelter from the storm.

In a few days, we hope to sail again in calmer seas to retrieve these buoys and look for more mysteries. Watch this space!

~Lisa T. Ballance

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