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>Seas 3-4 feet
>Wind speed 17 knots
>Temperature outside (w/ wind chill = -4.4 C)
>Location; 54 degrees 25.29 minutes W, 61 degrees 13.76 minutes S

An albatross accompanies the cruise.

26 November 2004

Today has been very interesting. As we left the coastal areas of eastern Argentina and moved further offshore the composition of the plankton (animal and plant) changed dramatically. We have finally entered oceanic waters and are encountering taxa that become more common with greater distances from shore. We have seen a drop in the abundance and a change in the composition of the invertebrate larval forms that we seek.

Last night (midnight) we used Blake trawl to collect animals from the sea floor some 330 meters below. The net was filled with scallops (what gill form might they have? You know this), Chaetopterus worms, and ophiuroid and asteroid echinoderms. Despite the seemingly extreme nature of the environment on land, the marine environment is highly productive. A highlight for the invertebrate folks on board was Drs. Balser and Halanych’s collection of a different species of pterobranch hemichordate.

Although my affinities fall towards those animals without a backbone, one just marvels at the flying abilities of the black browed albatross. As any good Chordate Anatomy book will tell you, these birds in flight rarely flap their wings. This is absolutely true. I stood on the back deck this afternoon for almost 45 minutes watching these magnificent birds soar across the waves. The evolutionary development of the wing design is remarkable. This was particularly evident when one compared the flight of the albatross to that of a shearwater (a smaller bird). One has the sense that that shearwater is exerting a significant amount of energy remaining aloft (they flap their wings at a relatively high frequency. In contrast, the albatross seems to effortlessly glide just above the waves and then soar into the sky. However, one might also recognize that there is a functional amd evolutionary trade-off between soaring ability (associated with longer wings) and the ability to rapidly produce lift by rapidly flapping their wings.

I’m late for my 8 to midnight shift. I trust you are all doing well.

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