Danielle Dhanens's Blog

Saturday, September 06, 2014
Dannielle Dhanens on the Thompson
ROPOS Takes a Digital Still Camera to the Seafloor

ROV ROPOS takes a digital-still camera in a tool basket down to the seafloor for installation at the active methane seep called Einstein's Grotto on Southern Hydrate Ridge. Photo Credit: Mitch Elend, University of Washington; V14.

September 6, 2014

I was my turn to speak on the live feed today. I though that having my turn logging while the life feed was being done would save me for that, but it did not. Although I really dislike public speaking, it never ends up being as bad as I expect it to be. Especially when I’m talking about something I enjoy. All in all it really wasn’t that bad, however I would have preferred to have a little more warning so I could actually look presentable.

As always the food has been good. It’s going to be difficult to go back to having to make my own food. I also think it is going to be hard to sleep when I get home. I’ve really come to like the rocking of the ship as I fall asleep. Even when we had some bad weather and the waves were really big I did not have a hard time sleeping at all.

We have all been talking turns working in the Bio lab analyzing sample and we have finally made it down to only having 4 coils left, which equates to about 4 hours of work. We started out with 16 coils so we have already done 12 hours of work. We make it fun though by talking and listening to music so it really isn’t that bad. As long as everyone stays focused and works hard it goes by quickly.

September 4, 2014

I thought I had gotten over any chance of seasickness until the water started getting rougher today. The waves slowly began to pick up and get bigger as the wind got stronger.  Although we did have warning that bad weather was coming our way its amazing how quickly it can go from smooth sailing to rough conditions. Thinking back to the days when ships sailed without any idea of what weather they came across, it really makes you appreciate how hard sailing must have been them and how great advances we have made.

Sadly with rough weather seems to come an even stronger desire to sleep all day. But I cannot do that; we have too much work to accomplish. Us students have been helping out in the bio-analytical lab where we have “osmotic fun and adventure”. It’s really not much of an adventure, but it can be fun when you get a good group of people working together. We have 16 coils of sample to go through and each coil takes about an hour. As you can see we have lots to keep us busy. No getting bored on this ship!

September 1, 2014

Teamwork is an obvious necessity on the Thompson, especially when things don’t always go exactly as planned. Weather can change instantly requiring us to rethink out dives and to re-plan things. The scientist, engineers, ROPOS team, and everyone else on board are all willing to rearrange their schedules as need be so that everything can be accomplished on this Leg. I was pleasantly surprised by how well people work together and they understand when dive plans change and their instruments don’t end up going down when they had originally planned. It’s nice to see such a great team working so well.

The ROPOS team handles a lot of unexpected challenges; for example connections being hard to make because waves at the surface make ROPOS harder to control. Many of the tools ROPOS needs to complete dives are zip ties onto the tool basket and occasionally things are so well zip locked that they are almost impossible to pick up, yet I have not seen ROPOS members loose their cool. They are able to remain so calm and focused even when the simple tiny little things become a challenge.

Another difficulty of life at sea is that there is a set number of people on board and you can’t always bring along everyone you might have wanted too. In order to overcome this possible problem, people on the Thompson have to work hard to stay connected with land. The live feed of dives is an important part of the process. It is amazing how scientist’s miles away on land can watch what is going on in real-time from their home or office allowing for them to communicate with scientist on board. Its an amazing way to make life easier for those who are at sea because they have the ability to communicate with colleges if they need too.

August 28, 2014

Today I actually got to log a dive for more than an hour, which is exciting, and luckily the descent down didn’t take up that whole time because the site was not as deep as others. As soon as you hit bottom it goes from taking a few little notes on the way down to suddenly having a hard time keeping up. Its amazing how many little things needs to be recorded, every little step is important.

After my turn logging I was able to help a little on deck which laying out the oily cable. While we were out there one of the engineers noticed a shark swimming along side us. While the shark look small from up here the guess was it was at least five feet long. I have no idea what kind of shark it was but it was cool nonetheless.

It was dark after helping with the cable so we decided to go lay on the bow and look at the stars. There is nothing as amazing as seeing the stars out here in the ocean where there is not light form the city to destroy your view. It’s a nice time to just layback and think about how lucky we are to be able to be out here learning. We are surrounded by smart fascinating people all will to share their story with us. I’m truly lucky and I think it took up until know to realize how great this opportunity really is.

August 27

Today we finished up at Slope Base and moved on to the Southern Hydrate Ridge. Here we will survey the locations for cable installations beginning tomorrow. While conducting the survey we found a snail farm. Deb said she was unsure of why the snails are grouped here, but there must be a reason because we did not find them anywhere else.

August 26

We left port today at 1400 headed towards the Slope Base sight. Once we reached the site we installed HPIES and connected it to junction box LJ01A. Watching ROPOS in action was amazing. In order to complete the dives it takes a large amount of team work between the science party, including oceanographers and engineers, the ROPOS team, and those on deck helping to launch ROPOS. Once ROPOS is in the water it begins its descent to the seafloor. Depending on the depth it can take up to 4 hours. The depth at slope base is about 2900m so it took over 3 hours to each bottom. There is not much to view while on the descent so it is a boring portion of the dive to be logging.


I got a little seasick while we were heading out to Slope Base, which ruined my dinner. The chicken fajitas look amazing, but after a few bites I knew it was probably best to not eat too much more. I headed down to my bed to attempt to sleep it off and found that the creaking of the boat sounds like rain falling on the roof and help me fall right to sleep. Little things that remind you of home are nice while you get used to your new surroundings.