Posted by: adorsk | October 5, 2008

More Iron

On 2008-09-08 The ship left Cape Verde and headed back out to sea for another iron sampling cruise.

Fe & C

The main scientific goal of this cruise was to continue sampling for sub-surface iron. We would also study dissolved organic carbon. This time there were three main groups. P from WHOI (who was also on the previous cruise) was the chief scientist and had along J, S, and H. Her group continued to sample for iron with pumps and vanes as on the previous cruise. I think P now holds the record for longest continuous time as a scientist aboard Oceanus (7 weeks). Appropriately, she gets the Iron Woman award.

P, J, & P deploying a vane
P, J, & P deploying a vane

The second group was led by A from Old Dominion University. He and his student HM, along with engineers N & M from Georgia Tech were filtering seawater for dissolved organic carbon (DOC). A’s group wanted compare the chemical composition of DOC from old, deep water at 3000m down with new water. The composition can tell us about what the environment was like thousands of years ago and what kind of life was around.

HM & A getting water from the CTD (photo by N)
HM & A getting water from the CTD (photo by N)
N & M's filtering rig
N & M’s filtering rig (photo by HM)

The third group consisted of PS & A, from the Cape Verdean Fisheries Institute. They came to observe P’s sampling methods.

C, P, S, & A brining in a pump
C, P, S, & A bringing in a pump

The cruise was busy. The science party had longer stations than on the previous cruise. Usually they worked 16-hour days, often longer. I am always impressed by how hard people work at sea. Often they work through seasickness (poor H was sick for the entire cruise) and on little sleep.

We did one gravity core just off the coast of Mauritania. A scientist back at WHOI needed one more sample. Oceanographers often piggyback on eachother’s cruises because ship time is so hard to get. “Hey, you’re going to the African shelf? Can you grab some mud samples for me?”

The gravity core (photo by P)
The gravity corer (photo by P)

I was usually busy fixing the CTD and helping the science party with the CTD software, or programming.

Cruising Life

We were again fortunate to have good weather. The trade winds gave us a cool breeze and the seas were mostly calm.

We saw a lot of life near the coast. There were fish, whales, dolphins, and birds. A big marlin swam by at one point. At night the birds would match the ship’s pace and hang just off of the rail like an avian mobile.

West African birds at night
West African birds at night

It became very apparent that we had left American waters. We heard Russian and Chinese over the bridge radio. At sundown the call to prayer went out over the emergency channel in arabic.

The Business of Crusing

I’ve been thinking about analogies for cruises. A good cruise is like a business venture. There must be a passionate, knowledgeable leader and a team with diverse skills. First you have to come up with a business plan (cruise logistics, motiviation). Then you have to raise capital (get funding from the NSF or the Navy). Then you have build the business (get supplies for the cruise, get a team together). Then you run the business (actually do the cruise), and finally you sell your product (publish a paper).

I think it helps if there is a mix of newbies and veterans. The newcomers learn from the vets but also give the vets fresh ways of seeing things. On this cruise N & HM were learning how to run the equipment from M, while PS & A from Cape Verde were learning from P & S.

I remember hearing that many businesses fail because they didn’t have a good business plan. A cruise is the same way. A good pre-cruise plan is essential. It’s important to know how much time each cast will take, how long it will take to go between stations. It’s also necessary to know how many people to bring. Ideally you would want to bring enough people so that everyone has enough time to rest.

There also have to be backup plans. What do we do if bad weather comes? If that sensor breaks, do we have spare parts? In almost every cruise there have been unexpected changes.

To the Canaries

We sailed along the bulge of Africa for ten days until we reached the Canary islands on 2008-09-18.

Various Pictures

I'm reading on the fantail
I’m reading on the fantail (photo by N)
HM in the galley
HM in the galley (photo by N)
P measures mud from the gravity corer
P measures mud from the gravity corer
That's all folks!
That’s all folks!
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