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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

December 01, 2018

Science at Sunrise

Elena Beckhaus, B Watch, University of San Diego


Lobster larvae in the early morning light - a horrifying, but beautiful sight.

Ship's Log

Current Position
34° 37.953’ S, 178° 22.236’ W

Course & Speed
180°, 4.6 kts

Sail Plan
Stormtrys’l, main and fore stays’ls, jib

Winds from ENE with Beaufort force 5, overcast skies, air temperature around 21°C, seas with a height of 5 feet

Souls on board

Happy December! I think? Ever since we crossed the International Date Line, I've been a little unclear on what day it is in the rest of the world. For the crew on the Bobby C, however, it is definitely December, which means it's time to break out the Christmas songs. I am officially ready to start hearing everyone sing Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" on repeat.

Now, onto the science that I promised you . This morning B-watch was scheduled for dawn watch, which means that I got a 0030 wake-up. It isn't particularly the most exciting thing to be woken up in the middle of the night to be on watch for the 6 hours. It is also hard to get out of bed and onto deck knowing that you will be looking into a bucket and under a microscope at zooplankton for those 6 hours - the two most seasickness-inducing activities on this boat - especially when you haven't gotten through a dawn watch without being seasick. Ironically, however, this turned out to be the first dawn watch where I didn't feel seasick, and it also turned out to be the best watch I've had thus far.

One of the things that does get you out of bed at midnight thirty is knowing that Sabrina (our amazing steward) has left out a midnight snack for you to eat. This morning, Sabrina had made some of my all-time favorites: snickerdoodles! Needless to say, that was a pretty good start to dawn watch. As I mentioned before, my duties this watch were in the lab, sorting through the zooplankton that A-watch had picked up in their 2300 neuston tow. The night neuston tows are always really exciting because we pick up all kinds of funky, phosphorescent creatures in our net. Assigned to the lab with me this morning was Jenn, who is the type of person that gets so excited about things that you get excited about them too. She is amazing, and she definitely shaped our dawn watch experience into a great one. After Jenn and I had run pH/alkalinity tests and filtered seawater for chl-a concentrations from the evening's surface station, we moved on to processing our neuston tow. At first glance into the bucket, it looked pretty much just like a gelatinous soup. But then when you start really picking through the contents of the bucket, you start finding all of these amazing little dudes.

My personal favorite find in that bucket was the Saphirina copepod. As most of my friends back home and all of the people on this boat know, copepods have a very special place in my heart. This particular species of copepod is absolutely stunning because it gives off this brilliant, metallic, blue-green iridescence. Then, about an hour into sorting, Jenn and I came across a surprise: lobster larvae (Phyllosoma)! I can't really say that it was the most pleasant surprise though. They were by far the largest zooplankton in the bucket and they're completely clear, so they're invisible until you pick them up. On top of that, they are absolutely horrifying to look at (as you can see in the picture). But oh, they are so cool! The rest of dawn watch flew by after that. We took lots of great pictures of lots of crazy organisms, including a terrifying polychaete and a stunning nudibranch. Then the sun rose over the ocean with the most glorious array of pale pinks and oranges. It was definitely one of those moments where you just kind of have to stand back and take a moment to realize how absolutely beautiful and pure this world is. It's moments like these where I just cannot believe that I am on this amazing experience with some of the best people in this world. Then Sabrina made us breakfast burritos. what more could you ask for?

- Elena Beckhaus, B Watch, University of San Diego

P.S. Hi family, I love you and miss you all so much! I can't wait for our FaceTime call in about 5 days from now - it's been far too long. Hey friends around the world, miss you guys so much! I'm super excited to see you all again soon in Munich and San Diego. Love you!

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s283  life at sea  study abroad • (1) Comments
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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 Makayla Hughes on December 03, 2018

Hi Elena!!!
I’ve been waiting for this post for like two weeks now. I very much enjoy the fact that you are searching for little dudes in a bucket when you made fun of me for doing that with my bug class last semester.
I miss you (even you talking incessantly about copepods) so much! I’m also very sad that I wasn’t able to blast “All I Want for Christmas is You” in November because I know you love that so much. Maybe I’ll just have to bring it back when I see you in January, hehe.
Can’t wait to come home from Italy and see you in San Diego in less than 2 months!!
Love from Firenze - your best friend/roommate ever smile



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