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Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

April 03, 2018

A Copepod Facial

Ashley Davis, C Watch, University of South Carolina


Millions of tiny black copepods in the zooplankton sieve

Ship's Log

Current Position
43°45.3’ S x 179°43.1’ E, west of the Chatham Islands

Ship’s Heading & Speed
055° per ship’s compass, 2.1 knots

Sail Plan
Jib, forestays’l, mainstays’l, and mains’l

Slightly cloudy with winds from the east

Souls on board

We are finally getting into the rhythm of life at sea on the Seamans, and it could not be better! Last night, I had my first science watch at 1900, and we began by watching the moon rise, which was spectacular. It was almost a full moon, bright yellow, and it lit up the night sky. We also spent time stargazing, and I learned about the Southern Cross, a cluster of four stars only seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

Near the end of our watch, we did a Neuston net deployment to sample zooplankton in the surface waters. After thirty minutes, we pulled it out of the water, and I was charged with unscrewing the jar at the end of the net. As I did so, streams of zooplankton covered my hands and some splashed out of the bucket onto my face. At first I was shocked, but that reaction quickly turned to delight as my hands started glowing with bioluminescent algae! After learning about them in my marine biology class in school, it had always been a dream of mine to see bioluminescent algae in person. This has been one of many things that have been crossed off my bucket list since beginning this voyage.

All of a sudden, I started to feel all of the tiny organisms wriggling on my skin, which was an interesting sensation. It turns out that our net caught an estimated eight million copepods, which are tiny almost microscopic crustaceans, and I'd guess that one million probably landed on me. I told the story at dinner tonight, and the Engineer, Henry, asked if I had been able to "cope" with my facial. After washing off my hands and face, Erin, C watch's Assistant Scientist, discovered we had caught a seahorse as well. We were surprised that the seahorse would be in surface waters, and it makes me wonder what else might be in the ocean beneath us. It is incredibly easy to look out at the sea, and think that there is not much life around us, but I am always amazed by the sheer abundance and biodiversity of organisms we find every day.

- Ashley (Shlee on the Sea) Davis, C Watch, University of South Carolina

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s278  study abroad • (7) Comments
Previous entry: Neuston Discoveries    Next entry: Whose Line is it Anyway?


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Kathryn on April 03, 2018

So cool Ashley! Sounds like you’re having an amazing time. Can’t wait to hear more stories!

#2. Posted by Linda Jordan on April 04, 2018

Oh my, what a wonderful adventure studying the ocean so up close and personal. I could just see you glowing from the experience….mentally and physically. Loving following this study adventure!

#3. Posted by Robin Mose on April 04, 2018

Good morning, S278 crew and my dear daughter, Kyler Mose!

I see you are approaching the Chatham Islands, your first stop on this incredible ocean journey.  I hope this finds you all well and acclimating to life at sea. 

You all have been posting such thoughtful, descriptive blogs.  I feel as if I am traveling with you.  Thank you for taking the time to do this and vicariously include us.

Revel in your break from all the demanding trappings of “modern society”—freedom from noise, light, and air pollution; TV; fake news; social media; phones; computers; bill paying; job seeking; societal norm conforming.  Merely by your decision to partake in this adventure already marks you as someone with unique perspectives of the world.  This journey will further awaken your world view and your role in it. Your and your STEM peers are the hope for our future; our eyes look to you to navigate our planet towards a healing future.

I think I can safely say on behalf of all of your family and friends, WE MISS YOU!  Your journey comes at a cost to us landlubbers by your absence; but your journey will make us rich with your stories and experiences upon your return. Ashley’s reference to the Southern Cross reminds me that we are all under one moon, one sun, one universe; and it brings me great comfort at night to look up at the moon and stars and know we all are nestled safely below, albeit on opposite sides of Mother Earth.

Fair winds and following seas, voyagers of the Bobby C!

Miss you dearly, beloved Kyler!  I know you are moving through your days with intention and joy. Love you!
—Mom, dad, Gunnar (Jenn), Gracyn, Quinn (Phoebe, Pip, Edwin…and everyone else with fur, feathers and fins—btw, we got some more ducks and chickens.  Long story, will fill you in in May)

#4. Posted by Bev Johnson on April 04, 2018

Hi Everyone- Echoing what was said above, thanks so much for the beautiful descriptions of your adventures so far!  It is so wonderful to read about some of your experiences- what you are seeing and what you are learning about—- . 
And Kat Duvall, we miss and love you and are sending lots and lots (and lots) of love. Mom, Dad, Hank and Sophie

#5. Posted by Ann on April 04, 2018

Ashley, I felt the wonder, the excitement of discovery and the beauty of night sky when I read your fascinating blog!! Thrilled for you!!
Safe travels!

#6. Posted by Judy Davis on April 04, 2018

Have a great time and enjoy God’s creation. You are experiencing things that most never will. We miss you, but are thankful we get to be part of the experience through the blogs.

Love, Mom, Dad, and Charles

#7. Posted by Alexa on April 05, 2018

Ashley this is amazing! We miss you around at SEAS! Keep making USC proud!



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