Lauren Kowalski's Blog

Monday, September 08, 2014
Lauren Kowalski Leg 4 VISIONS14
Calm Seas VISIONS14

Calm seas mark the horizong on Leg 4 of VISIONS'14. Photo Credit. Lauren Kowalski, University of Washington;V14

ROPOS Installing Cable for Seismometer

The ROV ROPOS descends with the ROCLS cable laying system hosting extension cables that will be installed at Southern Hydrate Ridge to connect to seafloor seismometers. Photo Credit: Lauren Kowalski, University of Washington; V14.

September 8, 2014

I have successfully mastered the art of the monkey fist knot.  Lately I’ve been tying knots in my free time. I enjoy it and I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at it too.

Today we are finally doing a science dive ☺ We can explore and take a bunch of samples at Hydrate and at Pinnacle, I’m very excited but the for the first part of the dive we have to finish up some business at Hydrate, then we’ll have fun.

We are finishing up with our project and it’s coming together great, we have over 20 organisms identified possibly in the 30 range. But after each dive we keep seeing one new animal, so we have to add another description for that organism.

September 6, 2014

Last night for the first time in like 3 days I had watch.  But it was the last hour of my watch so I just launched ROPOS and saw it like 20 minutes in its descent and that was it. Then afterwards Danielle and I watched a few episodes of Weeds with the crew in the lounge before we went to bed.

We have four more coils to process because we did one this morning. I don’t know why I keep volunteering to do it because it takes so to process just one coil. I think I just enjoy the company; everybody on this boat is so great to be around.

Yesterday Dana, one of the crew, gave me a little piece of rope and she taught me how to do the bowline knot so periodically I’ll just be tying knots. It’s really fun; I’d like to learn more knots. I know one more for rock climbing but that’s it.

As I’m writing this right now, I went outside for the first time today. It’s way too easy on this boat to be trapped inside. Not because you can’t go outside, but you are just too involved in doing your project and meals and helping out others that you forget that you can go outside. It’s wicked calm outside right now, there are no white caps for the first time in a day or two. The swells have also died down a little. I wanted to go out on the bow but one of the crew members is doing maintenance out there so I think I’m on the O2 or O3 deck just under the bridge enjoying some alone time listening to music.

I only have less than a week left out at sea. I know it’s probably hard to stay out for the whole three months, but I want to stay longer, I love this environment. It’s amazing seeing what really happens in the realm of science past school, past what’s confined at the university and in labs. Being out in the field is pretty sweet, I am so thankful to have this experience.

Here’s a shout out to my dad and my mom too for being so supportive and reading all my blogs ☺ and wanting to know everything about OOI and how I am involved with it.

September 3, 2014

Today’s my birthday!!!! I’m officially legal in Canada! Anyways, today carried on like any other day on the Thompson. But Ed was nice and let me have some of his candy from his personal candy stash for my birthday. My first present was a KitKat and a pack of watermelon gum! I decided to call home today too, to just talk to my momma see how everything is back home, which was nice.

Just before dinner time James, Skip, Trina and Keith figured out why the two legged mooring wasn’t working! It was a faulty cable, so there was a dive to retrieve the cable and a few of us got together to recoil the cable on deck so that it could be replaced with a fully functional cable.

Later in the day we had some bad weather so the ROPOS dive was delayed and I didn’t have watch. So, I helped Rick, a grad student, process some samples from an instrument he brought up from Einstein’s Grotto. It was fun at first, but then I realized just how much processing we are actually going to need to do. (It’s a lot by the way.) And to end the night Kevin, Danielle and Yishai played a game of bananagrams. It was wicked funny and a great end to my birthday.

August 30, 2014

I was planning on waking up for breakfast this morning, as I have only gone to breakfast twice so far, but Danielle’s alarm didn’t work and here I am typing this blog at 10 am with a big cup of coffee.

Just before lunch or just after lunch Trina came into the main lab and said that there are porpoises outside. For at least 30 minutes I was out at the stern of the ship watching these porpoises swim around and spout. Most likely they were feeding because there was a large flock of birds on the water as well as a sea lion present.  But who knows, it was just an amazing site and Billy got some killer photos of them. I saw four of them breach out of the water in unison; it was amazing. I was probably acting like a 5 year old because I was geeking out, but I didn’t really care. I also didn’t have my camera with me nor my phone but I enjoyed just watching the porpoises (possibly dolphins) instead of watching them through a lens.

Later I went out on the bow and was just looking over the side. The seas were calm and the sky was clear. Today just happened to be the animal day because I also saw a shark and two whales that swam across the sunset.

I also watched the sunset. It was gorgeous but I didn’t see the green light. I pretty much saw the sunset two or three times though due to the waves raising and lowering the boat above and below the horizon.

August 29, 2014

Last night I went stargazing. It was amazing, once my eyes got adjusted to the dark I stars kept appearing every which way. I saw so many shooting stars and I’m quite sure I also saw the Milky Way too!

However, while I was stargazing after my watch, ROPOS flew over Einstein’s grotto and I missed the methane seeps and even a bubble plume…But hopefully

I’ll be on watch the next time they fly over Einstein’s.

I’m going to work more on the project today, hopefully the wifi won’t hate me today and will cooperate with me.

Today we identified a bunch of crabs and jellyfish and the rockfish that have been swimming around the sites during ROPOS dives and we finished some descriptions of the organisms. I would say it was a pretty successful day. I have also become the expert at hagfish, it turns out they are born hermaphrodites. You learn something new everyday.

It is currently 3 hours into my watch and I hope ROPOS gets launched soon. Even if it’s not launched on my watch I’m going to stay up and watch the dive it’s going to be an exciting one.

Really late last night the dive started and I am glad I stayed up for it, the PIA on the two legged mooring is good to go. Woot woot! Also before ROPOS was launched Dan and I went to the 01 deck to better watch the launch and we saw a seal/sea lion! (some sort of pinneped!) We really wanted it to be a shark because there had already been two shark sightings, but sadly it wasn’t.  It was still cool though.

August 28, 2014

On my watch last night, ROPOS dropped off a junction box, moved some markers around to help the big cable ship and surveyed three cable routes that we are laying the cable for today.

The junction box drop was routine, however on the cable route survey we saw an amazing garden of snails. These snails create stalks that they sit upon, and Ian, a ROPOS pilot said that the stalks are the snails’ eggs. It was a really amazing site; I had never seen anything like it before.

After much work this morning on the Biology Catalog project Danielle, Myesa, and Victoria are working on, we decided to take a two hour long bananagrams break after our daily 1400 meeting. It was definitely a nice brain break and I was able to goof around a bit, it really cleared my head, and now I’m ready to go into my watch.

Before my watch I was able to watch ROPOS launch into the water. What an epic sight. I think it also helps that ROPOS and its crane are yellow and the ocean and sky are blue, because you know that blue and yellow are complementary colors. That’s definitely the reason behind the color scheme.

Also this evening’s weather is fantastic. The seas are calm the sky is finally clear! No clouds or fog (well some clouds, but they’re off in the distant.) Kevin said he saw a sunfish this morning and I hope there are more about; I would love to see one. I would pretty much love to see anything in the water other than the Vellela vellela jellyfish.

Off to watch now.

August 27, 2014

Last night was my first watch, and I was lucky enough to be there while we launched ROPOS and ROCLS down to Slope Base to deploy cable and connect HPIES to power. Although the video of ROPOS descending on its 3-hour journey to the bottom was not particularly exciting, it was still exciting! What an experience! I was the IRLS logger; I long logged some because most of the action was happening once we reached the bottom. My watch was over by the time we reached the bottom. I did, though, wake up early this morning so I could see ROPOS in action and I saw HPIES get connected to the cable.

In the control room with Taylor and Danielle on the first ROPOS dive of the Leg.

What was really cool about being in the watch room was hearing the ROPOS pilot and each ROPOS arm operator talk with each other and work out how they were going to approach the many tasks they must complete. Operating ROPOS’ arms is quite a skill.

I didn’t get to see that many interesting creatures on the descent, but I did witness multiple squids ink ROPOS, they didn’t seem happy about the ROV.  But I did see some fish that same with ROPOS down for a little bit. But while I was sleeping they saw a really cool fish that no one, not even Deb had seen before. We also saw some cool jellies down at Slope Base.

Today I’ve just been trying to work on the project as much as I can. And we determined what some jellyfish were that are everywhere surrounding the boat.

They are called Vellela vellela