I don’t think it really hit that I was in for a once in a life-time experience until I was flying over Patagonia on the way to Punta Arenas and saw the Andes breaking through the cloud cover. This is my first scientific cruise and the longest time I’ve ever spent out at sea. Needless to say I was a bit concerned having heard stories of the violent weather and high seas of the Drake Passage as well as the intense cold I was most likely going to experience being so close to Antarctica. The nervousness left relatively quickly, however, once the work began and we had set sail.
Being able to be a part of the many different research goals while being on the same ship and working cooperatively with different fields of study has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. The size of the crew requires that everyone on shift be prepared to help one another with whatever needs to be done, regardless of previous experience. Although my main focus lies in collecting, identifying, and storing the organisms we find using Blake trawls and Heine Dredges I have been introduced to a wide array of other jobs while on shift. I have helped collect and subsample fossil corals brought in from Heine dredges as well as gain a basic understanding of the multibeam program CARIS we use for underwater mapping. The theme of cooperation is omnipresent on the ship and we often find ourselves helping the Marine Technicians whenever we can while on deck to help with safety or help ease the load of bringing in a Box-Core Sample.
Working and collaborating together on the same team with many different goals has been an eye opening experience for me. Many of the biological samples collected will go to other scientists, whose research focuses and depends on the specific organisms we collect while on our cruise. There has been a general feeling of camaraderie on the ship with many laughs to be had and a common goal to do the best we can in order to help one another. Overall the experience has been a great one and I look forward to the next half of the cruise being as good, if not better than the first half.
Weather: temperature 36 °F, windchill 10 °F, windspeed 20-30 knots, clouds, high seas and big swell!
A Bayergorgia ocotocoral collected in one of the trawls, one of Sebastian’s more memorable creatures (S. Valez)
Meanwhile, after a few days of strong winds, the seas have become very high, with a few dramatic moments on the back deck. Here, Sandy and Skip recover a damaged dredge (R. Waller).