9 July, 1997


Today has been somewhat different on the boat. We did not take so many watersamples. Instead, we spent most of the time moving toward two target areas that had collecting devices that were floating free from the boat.

One of the devices had open bottles affixed to it in a variety of ways to catch organisms (mainly microbiota) and water from a fixed level that served as sediment traps (parcticles drifting downward in the water column). Yesterday, I had helped deploy this bizarre looking array of bottles by controlling the winch that held the rope to which all the different items were attached. I had to work in tandem with the crane operator to carefully lift and lower the whole apparatus into the ocean. By collecting samples for over 12 hours, the concentration of sediments and algae are greater, giving a more accurate picture than just a quick dip of the sampling tubes. Although beautiful to behold, clear ocean water does not have many nutrients. It is almost like a liquid desert. That is why those who like to fish know to get near a rig or buoy mooring to find fish. They congregate where there is food for them. Rigs, etc., provide places for barnacles and sponges to grow, thereby s!

tarting a food chain.

I have not described a typical day for you on the boat. My shift starts at 3:00am, so I have to get up at about 2:00 to 2:30. I struggle getting dressed on the rocking boat (remember the waves have been anywhere from 4 - 8 ft high) and report to the lead scientist for my shift. At around 3:15, we send off the niskin bottle rosette. About an hour or two later (depending on the depth), we haul the rosette in and the mad water sampling frenzie begins. It seems everyone needs precise depth samples for one test or another. The oxygen folks get the first samples because the oxygen content can change so rapidly, especially with the warmer temperatures on deck. Then I check the temperatures. Other people collect for carbon dioxide, nutrients, and chlorophyll. I usually help with the last collection also which is salinity.

After the sampling, the different water containers have to be frozen or carefully stored to take back to the university lab for analysis. We then start on labelling the next set of bottles to be used.

At 7:00am, breakfast is served. After another collection, lunch is at 11:30. The food is good and plentiful. Not all luxuries are sacrificed out here!

We go through that process at least three times on the shift. By 3:00pm, we are all dirty, wet and ready for a shower. The showers are sufficiently hot, but they must be short to conserve the fresh water supply. Bunk time is delayed until supper at 5:00pm. Then exhaustion helps one ignore the rumble of the engines, the whine of the autopilot, the erratic rocking of the boat and distant slamming of doors to fall asleep!


Besse Dawson

PS - I love science - even the wet, smelly, and noisy parts of it!

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