|JUNE / JULY
July 14, 2010
By David M. Lawrence
SEA cruise C-230 is done. At least for the sampling portion. Much work remains for the scientists – finishing the compilation of the data, quality checking it, analyzing it, and reporting the results.
But for most of the volunteers, our official duties ended about 1000 hours this morning after a final cleanup of the ship – and especially of our bunks. Most of us are beginning to scatter. Some are reuniting with spouses, others are heading to the beach. Still others – like myself – are catching up on last-minute work.
We've accomplished a lot. We've sailed more than 3,800 nautical miles. In the process we crossed over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and nearly reached longitude 40°W. We've completed 128 neuston tows, 106 surface stations, 47 carousel casts, and 34 Tucker trawls. We've counted more than 48,000 pieces of plastic and 100 pieces of tar. We've collected 1,388 Halobates and 219 myctophids (lanternfish), and we've counted more than 5,000 copepods, 900 Cladocera, and more than 700 hyperiid amphipods – among other creatures.
As with any good scientific expedition, the scientists face months, if not years, of data analysis and preparation of scientific reports. Some of their initial questions will be answered, but many more will arise out of what they find as they sift through the numbers.
As for me, I'm obviously still working, so my statistics are incomplete. Through yesterday, I filed 33 daily reports (this is the 34th and final one). For those first 33 days, I wrote and filed 33,155 words – all the Daily Journal entries, all the cutlines for the photos, and six Reflections on Shipboard Life essays.
I shot more than 5,000 photos, all of which take up nearly 13 gigabytes on my external hard drive. Each day I looked at what I shot and what my shipmates had shot and nominated for publication, and selected 10 to be published each day. (I forgot to move one of those into the upload folder the other night, though, so it didn't make it on the site.)
I don't have statistics for how many times the engineering crew started and stopped the engine or generators. I don't have statistics for how many times we struck or set particular sails. I don't have statistics for how many times we gybed or changed course. Much of that information exists in the various logs the crew keeps, but it hasn't been compiled.
If it had been, however, I think I would collapse from the exhaustion of merely considering all the work that we collectively as a crew have done. I'm sure my body feels it, and I'm sure it will choose an inconvenient time to call in the note. I owe it some rest, with interest.
I'm not the only one who has earned the right to a long, long nap.
But not today. I have a date with my shipmates at the White Horse at 2000 hours. I may hoist ginger ales while they hoist their beers, but we owe ourselves several rounds together. I've worked hard to pull my share of the load on this expedition, and intend to do the same tonight.--------
Read an article in today's Boston Globe about the Plastics at SEA Expedition.