Islands in the Stream Expedition
South Atlantic Bight Mission
Savannah Scarp Leg
Sept. 5-9, 2001
Aboard the R/V Seward Johnson II and Submersible Clelia

Dr. Leslie Sautter
Dept. of Geology and Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina

Thursday, Sept. 6 (1000 hrs)
I slept fairly well (although the air conditioning was excessive) and awoke to a gentle rocking and rolling, signaling that we were at sea (Fig. 6). After a leisurely breakfast and chat with my new colleagues I ventured to the fantail to inspect the ship. I stepped outside and saw the smooth, nearly flat steel gray-blue sea moving swiftly along the side of the vessel. I felt a surge of excitement for being at sea again. I'm always invigorated by the motion, the swells, the diesel and rust smells, the engine's loud hum and a clear horizon, devoid of land. Not sure why - maybe it's the sense of adventure, freedom…escape. I'm going to learn so much on this cruise, and have the great and unexpected opportunity to explore new territory as well. I'll be diving 200 feet to the unknown seafloor in a "yellow submarine" named Clelia (Fig. 7). The Clelia is about 20' long and looks like a large yellow propane tank with lots of wires and mechanical gadgets attached to its bow (Fig. 8). It's an impressive piece of engineering with a 4' diameter hemisphere viewing "bubble" windshield in the front, big enough for two adults to sit side by side, and for a third person to sit behind the others, slightly elevated so he or she can see through the large viewing porthole.
Today is overcast and calm, except to the northwest where a huge cloud is dumping massive amounts of rain. We are watching a huge water spout on its flank (Fig. 9)! I've never seen one. It changes with each minute. …It's gone now after lasting a good 10-15 minutes. I think we're about to get wet!

Thursday, Sept. 6 (1600 hrs)
Rain soaked us earlier, followed by a beautiful rainbow that stretched across the sky (Fig. 10), dipping into the waves. After lunch we spotted a pod of 10 long-finned pilot whales! We approached them, drifting slowly, so that we were only 20 ft from them. I stood above the pod and observed from the bow (unfortunately, I was without my camera!). It was a beautiful, memorable sight and sound. We could hear them blowing and "sounding" - sometimes they squeaked or whistled. They hovered in a group alongside the ship for 10 minutes, blowing frequently; undisturbed by the closeness of our steel-hulled vessel. One large male had a curved dorsal fin, and a youngster stuck close to his mom. They'd hover, not swimming, then they'd sound and all would dive below, resurfacing nearby. Then they'd hover for a while again. We hung with the pilot whales for almost half an hour. Just before they swam off, the bull raised his bulbous head out of the water to look at us!
Water spouts and pilot whales - a wonderful day. And dinner! We ate like queens and kings - Alaskan king crab to be specific. It was amazingly delicious - the best ever. Good thing this is a short cruise!

on to Friday

Fig. 6


Fig. 7


Fig. 8


Fig. 9


Fig. 10