This is a rather sleepy rower writing in from a rather stuffy cabin in the rather still and misty North Pacific after the second day in a row of – wait for it – rowing in the right direction. As you can imagine, this feels something of a novelty after recent weeks of looping and looping and the enforced time off the oars after The Big Fish Fright. That’s the good thing about the current mist, you see, in that you don’t really see much at all, so second time round you don’t feel like you are seeing old stuff.
Thankfully the sun has also been strong burning in and out of the mist and through it, so it hasn’t felt quite so flat a greyish white as on previous mistings. My only gripe about the mist is that it means I can’t see wildlife so far away – my tiny world gets even smaller. The past few nights I have heard various harrumphs from whales and this evening I heard the radioesque swirls and tuning of passing dolphins – but I haven’t seen any of them.
And yet it has felt full of wildlife, and on a much closer scale. The calm waters means I see more rubbish which in turn has shown me a handful of crabs clawing out an existence on whatever bit of flotsam they can cling on to. This morning I saw something jumping up and down on a floating board and, as we approached, made out a small fish jumping itself back into the water. Then there was the turtle this afternoon, a wee one, about the size of dinner plate who swam on by with nothing more than a flipper wave. Close up footage of a turtle is the holy grail – up there with closes ups of whales, sharks and dolphins. On the shark front, I am yet to see any from Happy Socks. Having seen lots in my month at sea with Gulliver last year, I am hopeful – a whale shark would make my day, my voyage in fact, and could only be topped by an Orca (there is a chance of this on the other side) or, the king of them all, a bluey. Yes, a blue whale is all time top of my wildlife wishlist. 30 metres long and with arteries big enough to swim through….amazing doesn’t even come close.
Zooming in to the teeniest of the ocean beasties, one of my favourite things to do on a calm day is peer into the blue at the plankton, picking out shapes and shades of this and that. I tried out my microscope on some for the first time the other day and realised a few things: a) it is really tricky to use a microscope on a small wobbly boat b) I need a better microscope with higher resolution to see much more than fish eggs in any detail c) maybe it would have been better to bring a few specimen bottles and formaldehyde and take some samples for looking at ashore. Still, there’s always the Atlantic.
Our onboard visitor today was a beautiful Gadfly petrel, much bigger than the Wilson’s/Leech’s petrels that we have had previously. I patted her gently with a tshirt before popping her back over the side. Check out the picture – you can clearly see the tube on the top of the nose for excreting salt. That would be an ace thing to have wouldn’t it?
And so my journey continues, and the wildlife continues to delight, surprise and intrigue me, keeping me company and keeping me curious. Here’s to more ahead.
All salty best,
Sarah and Happy Socks x.
PS Neck just about sorted now. Still popping the pills and doing my stretches, but rowing the last two days has felt Ok.
PPS: For those wondering at the Big Fish Fright – see the last phonecast, which will then make the previous blog make sense too.
Replies to comments:
Phil Harnett : Ni hao! I do indeed still have your music player though sadly the ace headphones are aboard Gulliver. I have particularly enjoyed the folk so far and the Tallis Scholars. Best to you and Michelle.
Peter Booth: Some of the fish beneath the boat are pilot fish (the ones I call the Tweedles) though I don’t know the others – I think there are two further species.