Krista Nunnally's Blog

Sunday, July 27, 2014
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It seems to me that everything in the ocean has a type of movement; a flow that is both disruptive and fluid at the same time.

Assisting with the CTD Deployment

Leg 1 students assist ship's crew to deploy the CTD.  Photo credit:

Lashing Cable Holders

Ben Brand (Univ. of Washington) teaches UW students Don Setiawan and Krista Nunnally to prepare the bungie cords used to tie down the spooled cable's end to the outer part of the ROCLS frame.  O-rings provide an easy grab for the ROV's manipulator arm. Photo credit: Leslie Sautter, College of Charleston, V14.

27 July 2014

Today was our first official check in with our videos. Although it wasn't as formal as I expected because our advisers were busy, it gave me a chance to really reflect on my own work. I had a couple people watch the video with me and they gave me helpful pointers.  I also became very critical as I was showing others my video,which I didn't expect. I had thought my video was pretty well put together until I started showing others. Then I realized things that could be perfected or changed and did so. I now am only struggling to stop correcting things. I know I can be overly critical of my own work but hopefully I will have time to get it to a point I feel is acceptable. This part of my project, which is focused on the Thompson and its capabilities, is only a part of a series of videos I plan to do. My main goal will be to attempt to communicate the purpose and benefit of all the great things we are doing out here, and I hope my beginning and concluding videos will leave the viewer with that impression. My current video does touch on the idea of the value of the cruise but the next video will do a much better job.

26 July 2014

My video is nearly finished. I have most of the audio synced to it thanks to some help from one of my peers, Don. I also had an informative conversation with John Delaney over lunch and he encourages me to pursue other ship excursions since I revealed my love for being on the boat. I am considering the NOAA Corps if I am eligible or the Coast Guard after I graduate. I know I have mentioned it before but there really has not been an end to the amount of effective knowledge I have gained while on this excursion. I have had so many opportunities to learn things, such as; video and audio editing, ship/deck operations, biological classification, future work possibilities, data logging, information on bathymetric mapping, ROPOS and much more. These opportunities to learn have occurred every single day and even tonight I had the chance to sit and chat with the third mate for a good amount of time out on the bow. He told me which stars were which, some of their many names and history, and how people across the world have used them to navigate. It was one of, if not the first, clear night and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. No photo would do justice to the way the sky was lit up with thousands of stars and the Milky Way streaking through the middle of it. Thinking of the 30th is becoming more bittersweet as we approach port. I love being out here on the water but thankfully, with the help of my new acquaintances; I will be able to secure another trip within the next year or so.

25 July 2014

Tonight was a great experience. After working hard on my video, again with help from my peers and Ed the videographer, I wandered out onto the aft deck to look for the fish I had spotted the other night. However, as soon as I stepped out of the main lab, my eyes saw little but blackness from the deep level of darkness surrounding the ship. I was patient for my eyes to adjust as I walked to the edge of the boat to look into the water. For a little while all I could see were small splashes of white from what I thought was the rolling waves. Then I realized that the water was actually rather calm and what I was seeing was the splash of a fish feeding at the surface. I wandered further towards the back of the deck and watched the one or two fish jumping intermittently out of the water, when all of a sudden an entire school of fish rushed out from underneath the boat in one fluid shape. They were amazing in their synchronized movements, moving like silver plated fairies just beneath the surface. One of my peers joined me and we followed their movements with a close and careful eye. They took no exact path but wandered up and down the side of the boat until we saw three blood red squid sail through the middle of the group and then disappear. The squids’ timing was not synchronized with one another but synchronized as a rhythm, like two swift punches and a finishing upper cut. It seems to me that everything in the ocean has a type of movement; a flow that is both disruptive and fluid at the same time. Every time you see something simple, like midnight squid frenzy, there is something more intricate happening and all you’re doing is seeing a poorly reflected shadow of what’s really going on below.

24 July 2014

We have finally overcome a bad run of luck. After some struggling with laying cables and with ROPOS and its operations, and our shortening timeline on the ship, we have successfully put new instruments on the sea floor at the International District site. Today the ROPOS team also recovered a tool basket from the ocean floor that was set down last night because of questionable weather. I have not done as much reading as I had the past few days because there has been more to do. With the help of some of my peers I also had an interview with the Chief Engineer and the Captain of the boat. They both were very knowledgeable about the ship and how it runs. I hope to include some of the video and audio of that interview in the video I am working on for my project. I really want to tell others how important this observatory will be in the future, whether it is being used by students or the general public. My favorite part of the interview was when we spoke on this subject. Both the Chief Engineer and the Captain see great value in what we are doing, even though they agree that it is quite the challenge in all aspects from ship preparation to installation of the instruments and electrical nodes. The Captain specifically said he has been helping with this operation for about 14 years. Both men plan to take full advantage of the benefits the observatory will provide, and to me that says something about what we are doing. I hope that the video my partner and I make can convey the same importance about this program as I feel seeing the operations first-hand. As I feel the clock start winding down on the ship, it seems bittersweet and almost surreal that we will be on land in six days. I do miss my friends, family, and especially my dog, but I have found a renewed love for the ocean while being out here. As much as I want to go home, I really would love to come back.

21 July 2014

There has been quite a bit of discussion of what happens to our sense of balance once we actually get off the ship. From what I know there has not been any sea sickness or dizziness among my colleagues and me since early into the voyage, so we are more or less well adjusted to the motion of the boat. The problem, or so I am told, is now that the ship has become our constant frame of reference, we will have to earn our land legs back once we are on solid ground. With my graceful tendencies, I doubt I need any extra help in losing my balance so hopefully this isn’t true.

On another note, we received some beautiful sunny weather today and yesterday, and I took a small break from another edit of my video script to delve into my book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Being out on a boat reveals this book as an extra thrill to my days on the ship. I also enjoyed the calm company of one of the technicians who was taking advantage of the sun to relax. Thankfully, he did not expedite me from what I learned was his favorite reading bench, but instead shared a quiet and peaceful reading place with me out on the very tip of the bow. I love sticking my head out over the side and watching the water play around the bottom of the ship, and until yesterday I had forgotten how it feels seeing the sunshine rays form a halo around my tiny shadowed reflection in the water beneath.

I have four interviews I am trying to tackle within this week and know that the sooner I get them, the better. There is still much to do for my video project and it is really important to me to get my message across. Thankfully there is much help on the ship, especially the videographer Ed who is eager in every way, including help and humor which I appreciate greatly. He has a lot of experience and knowledge about these things and seeing as this is my first video, his sound advice is a savior to my colleagues and me.

19 July 2014

Today I really began to feel the pressure of my own video project increasing, even though my partner and I have a script prepared and we are editing it for the fourth time. After gathering some footage from our engine room tour, which was very informative of the amazing power it takes to move this ship, we planned another interview with the Chief Engineer to gather some information. Some things were roughly communicated on the engine room tour but it was very difficult to retrieve much material over the roaring of the sixteen cylinder engines. I’m hoping to add this to a small gathering of video, audio, and pictures my partner and I have attained during the cruise. After our video is finished I will be presenting it to a general audience as I try to bring to public attention the importance of our oceans and highlight why my colleagues and I are so passionate about it. Many of the crew are reminding us that we have entered the last ten days of the cruise and time is beginning to press tension into many aboard as we try to accomplish documenting a program nearly unknown to the world, until now. I have the best hope in our team and recognize that even with the difficulties we face, whether it is weather or technological complications, we have the ability to make the deadline in front of us.


18 July 2014

Separating the days and activities while on board the Thompson has become a real challenge to many of us on board. We don’t always run from sunrise to sunset so the hours blur easily together as our days progress. The only way I have found to keep track is my blog or own personal record of activities. That is the first perk I have encountered while keeping my blog updated. Yesterday was exciting for most as we got the opportunity to dive on El Guapo, a hydrothermal vent in the International District venting field. This monstrously large vent stands about 16 meters high off of the seafloor and yesterday some of its venting fluid was found to be around 270˚C. I was so ecstatic I immediately hopped online to tell my friends and family to go to the live video feed and share my excitement. The best part was seeing the life thriving near its hot fluids and the obvious and dynamic changes that had occurred since it was last observed in 2011. The rest of my time that day was spent in the library, pouring over some long lost volumes of Jacques-Yves Cousteau called “The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea,” Which many of my colleagues agreed to be a good find. I then turned to my bunk and took a long rest that was not nearly as fitful as the past few nights. I think I may be getting used to the noise on the ship and I am thankful for that. I woke this morning feeling refreshed and excited for the possibility of having a watch from 8:00 to 12:00. However, I found that both of the dives conducted today were before or after my watch. Instead, I picked up my rope and did some more knot practice, even though I think I could now do the bowline knot in my sleep. The repetition of it is helpful in times when there is little going on. I also attempted a monkey fist knot. The product of my attempt was at least recognizable but nowhere near perfection. I have also made good use of the extravagant and delicious meals on the ship by expending some energy below on the elliptical. It helps my energy levels, I feel, to have some kind of a daily workout and I appreciate its placement being somewhat out of the way of many people walking through.  TTFN ~(Ta Ta For Now)


16 July 2014

In the last couple days we had run into some intensified wind and waves. The weather is looking up a little now but the wind seems less inclined to relent in a timely matter. While there was a lag in ROPOS operations because of this, our student team took time deploying a few CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) casts. After the first cast returned from 2500 meters, we gathered samples to be titrated using the Winkler method for dissolved oxygen levels. These samples would be recorded as a tool to calibrate the dissolved oxygen sensor on the same CTD. The other casts deployed were used mainly to gather ocean water to be stored in the fridge for later use and for one of the crew to reduce to sea salt. One colleague and I hoisted a large pot up a flight of stairs from the back deck while trying not to spill the nearly full pot with the sloshing movement of the boat. While we were successful, it would be inaccurate to say there was no salt water spilt. The master sea salt producer was so happy she promised us some of the salt she produced from it. Also, in the absence of each of our watches in the control room, we took the time with some of the RSN engineers and ourselves to watch “The Life Aquatic.” It was one of the most peculiar movies I have seen in a long time but enjoyable with the friends present. One thing that has struck me on this trip is the readily available amount of knowledgeable and brilliant people, in all fields, that I have met.  Both students my own age and others who have been years in their field or as crew on the ship have astounding amounts of experience and are willing to discuss their favorite adventures in the program and in their life. This is invaluable in my opinion and I appreciate every person who has taken the time to invest their experience in my own.


15 July 2014

I finally got some rest last night. Whether it was from the ear plugs or plain exhaustion I cannot decisively say, but it has made the day run much smoother. It amazes me the tenacity of my fellow colleagues to stay effectively working on everything we do on the ship with little amount of sleep. I had my first experience logging today and it went rather well. Four hours of watching ROPOS doing anything is genuinely entertaining, especially with the biology that zooms by every once in a while. I watched the screen carefully noting seeing spider crabs, a vibrant orange sea anemone, a skate, and a few purple-black rat tail fish. My favorite biology spotted however, were the tiny dancing brittle stars that were just barely visible but covering large areas of the hardened basalt flows, with their curiously thin arms stretching around the rocks. I did my best to pick up on the important conversations the ROPOS crew said to each other and to the lead engineer scientist about the area and cable. I believe I did well in capturing still images on the digital still camera (DSC), and have learned much about our operations today and tomorrow. To end my night I will most likely escape an hour or so onto the deck where I can watch the simple beauty of the undulating pacific waves.


13 July 2014

On July 12th, during our first night and day spent on board, the boat was docked and my peers and I enjoyed a wonderful light rocking of the boat as we took a time lapse of the Seattle skyline at sunset.  The movement was truly so slight that only the time lapse revealed the changes of position to our inexperienced bodies. This calmness is bitter sweet to look upon two days later. Very little was happening for us that night other than exploring the boat’s aft and fore decks. For me personally, the anticipation to be underway was all I could hold at the front of my mind and not even the novels I had brought could distract me.

The next day, July 13th things continued on in an apparently mellow way. I continued exploring the boat as it departed from the pier and into Puget Sound. During the early afternoon I enjoyed a chat at the very tip of the bow with one of my favorite companions. She recollected how she enjoyed coming to that spot in the night when the ship was docked and listening to the deep sigh of the ship’s metal hull as it flexed and creaked with the force of the water beneath it. She said this was the ship singing. Her insight is one of the reasons I love this area of study.  There’s a deep poetry to things and people you encounter when you listen well enough.  This idea carried on throughout my day as I listened to John Delaney’s lecture in the late evening. He spoke to the effect of art, music and culture and how it is and has always been intertwined with the sea. I enjoyed his lecture and the perspective he expressed about complexity and interconnectivity of humans and the ocean.

The most recent hours however, have not been nearly as peaceful. It has reminded me that the ocean is both beautiful and torturous; much like the last 24 hours spent on board the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. After leaving Puget Sound we hit a change in weather that has affected many on board. It started late last night. I woke up to what sounded like a full-grown bull ramming my door. I felt the whole vibration of the sound as it rang through my room. However, I have now been informed that it is only waves hitting the ship as the bow moves through crest and trough. Because of the violent sound, I still have a slight doubt in my mind. Then again, it is difficult to ignore the heaving ship from the weather outside and the few aboard who have fallen ill to it. It interrupted my sleep repeatedly last night and this morning, but I plan to grab some earplugs from the wet lab before I jump into my bunk tonight. During the day this motion doesn’t bother me more than causing me to be a little off-balance. In actuality, I can enjoy the rocking and up and down heaving of the ship, especially out on the deck where there is fresh air. I also observed today that along the side of the ship there was a notable amount of Velella velella jellyfish. I enjoyed watching them floating along with the surface of the turbid waves and flapping their little sails in the wind. 

This has been my first blog, ever. I’m not sure how I feel yet about blogging. I have always been best at being pensive and extrapolating on my own imagination and ideas, rather than vocalizing them. Nor do I claim to be an effective writer. I suppose there is no time like the present, and practice makes perfect, or so I’m told. So, I will attempt to do my best.