The research vessel Professor Khromov is just a few kms off the easternmost point of Siberia, and U.S. technologist Kevin Taylor is struggling to reel in an orange buoy that had been deep beneath the Bering Strait for nearly a year.
The first time he tries, the ship veers too far away from the prize and must make a slow, wide turn for another pass. The second time, Taylor’s hook is not quite ready and the float bobs again into the Khromov’s wake. This takes practice, even in calm waters.
A main task of the RUSALCA expedition, a joint-U.S.-Russian scientific effort taking place in August and September, is to retrieve data-gathering moorings that were dropped 50 meters to the bottom during stormy weather last October, and to leave new ones.
It takes technological and navigational know how and, it soon becomes clear, the lassoing skills of a cowboy.
Attached to moorings are instruments that gather data on temperature, currents, salinity and other things tied to RUSALCA’s study of the impact of climate change on the region. Some of the new ones are even equipped with an instrument that listens for whales. They are held to the bottom by weights fashioned from train wheels.