Thursday May 15, 2014
Post by Sarah Halperin, UM rising senior
The Nancy K, fishing boat repurposed into a thriving, majestic, slightly nerve-wracking research vessel, was ready and waiting Thursday morning. The sky was dark and grim with an impending promise of an undesirable sea state. However, without even a second of hesitation Dave, Greg, Melissa, Rachel, and Sarah were saying goodbye to the Clinton River Department of Natural Resources and off to the heart of Lake St. Clair. Bundled from head to toe, our first task was to reattach the net and wings to the Manta net. While one might think this is a relatively easy task, try attempting this while being swayed back and forth with waves a little rougher than a gentle rock. Never fear, the wings and net were secured and ready for action once we arrived at the first station. The first station was a “high flow” zone and we excitedly and secretly crossed our fingers in hopes we would find some microplastic. Around noon, the manta net was dropped portside for our first 20-minute trawl.
The methodology and sample collection was going excitingly well. The only worry was whether or not we would be able to refrain from tossing our cookies until after our third trawl. The waves were getting increasingly large, the sea state was rising to a three, and the color in our faces was slowly disappearing. The boat rocked heavily from side to side reaching what felt like a 30-degree angle to stabilize itself in 6-foot waves. We began to question whether or not we should return home or move on to our second station. We decided we made it too far to give up now and chose to finish the remaining three 20 minutes trawls at our second station. The second station went much more smoothly. We were functioning like a well-oiled machine, the waves were more bearable, and the sun even decided to peak out.
With plenty of samples to analyze and weak bodies we drove home, pleased to be on land but extremely excited for future days out on the Nancy K.