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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

August 06, 2018

Another Day, Another Copepod

Ed Sweeney, 1st Assistant Scientist

Spend a Semester at Sea

Some anemone fish for you Holly! On our last snorkel mission in Nikumaroro, I noticed the blue stripes on these guys from the surface and had to get a pic.

Current Position
5° 35.0’S X 173° 53.6’ W

Ship’s heading and speed
soon to be net towing speed on a science tack

Ship’s Science Plan
Phosphate analysis and evening station

Souls on Board

Here we are, on the last leg of our long journey through PIPA! Woot! We're almost there. Destination: American Samoa. We've conducted SO much research and data sampling to add to a fantastic data set in these remote parts of the world. Pretty sweet as.

Our students have learned the ship and are beginning to take on the responsibilities as junior watch leaders. It's very impressive to see how far they've come.  As we enter this last phase of the program, the students are effectively carrying out our scientific sampling and sailing (well, maybe with a little supervision). They prep the scientific gear and give the commands to put the gear into the water and recover it. It's by far my favorite part of semester programs because not only do I get put out of my job as assistant scientist onboard (I kid), but also because I get to see the students gain confidence in the ship routines and put all their hard hours of work on display. It's very fulfilling to see and makes me feel happy that I get to be an observer of this transition.

After leaving Nikumaroro yesterday, we immediately picked up our sampling program where we had left off - evening station consisting of a CTD hydrocast, a shallow (40 to 50 m depth) and deep (100 to 120 m) tucker trawl net tow and then a surface neuston net tow. These science deployments help us to understand the biodiversity of zooplankton and nekton (respectively marine organisms that drift with the current or can swim against it) at different depths in the water column throughout these waters. It's very exciting to recover net samples at night, particularly the tucker trawls, which emerge from the depths as ghostly bioluminescent shapes. As we recover and bring the net back on deck, it is always exciting to pour out the contents of the cod end jar and find glowing gelatinous pyrosomes, the zooplankton-terrorizing myctophid fish and copious amounts of our standby zooplankton species, the copepod.

Today was equally exciting as we made our way from Nikumaroro southeast towards Carondelet Reef, a subsea feature nearly reaching the surface from its base at about 4000 m water depth. Needless to say, it was impressive to see breaking waves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, miles from the nearest island. We kept our distance, turning back when our bottom depth sounder read 400 m water depth. Once the reef was a comfortable ways from the ship, we put the brakes on the ship by going "hove to". With light winds and gentle seas, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a "Sierra Charlie" or swim call. Fortunately for me, I finished my Phosphate nutrient analysis standards in the lab (Holly, 0.999 R^2 value!) just in time for a quick dip in the water - it was nice to cool off and relax for a swim with the rest of the crew.

Another day, another copepod. This trip has been very enjoyable and scientifically so interesting. I'm glad and feel very lucky that I've been able to explore and sail with such a fantastic crew!

- Ed

P.S. Hi Holly, I love you and miss you!! I'm so excited to get back soon!! Tell Mare, Liz, Catherine and everyone I said hi!


#1. Posted by Mabel and Tom Chin on August 13, 2018

To students and crew of s281:

Welcome home!

Thank you Captain & crew for bringing everyone back to safe harbor,and thank you to the scientists and instructors for teaching such invaluable lessons to all students during this most amazing voyage!

Andrew!  We can hardly wait to see you!  And to hear all about your adventures and research projects.  Take a selfie on the good ship Robert C. Seamans before you disembark!  (We don’t think you hide in the bilge, and be a stowaway for the next sailing!)

Mom & Dad




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