Ryan Brennan's Blog

Thursday, August 07, 2014
Ryan working with the CTD

9 August, 2014

Today my shift was extremely productive.  We finally got permission from NSF to plug the cables into the node at Axial Base.  It was an exciting moment, especially for John and the science team.  I was able to stay fairly alert through my watch, but my acid reflux reared its ugly head again.  I wish there were some Tums onboard.  Our lecture today was hosted by one of the students, Isaac, and his lecture was about ethics in science and outreach.  Instead of a lecture, it was more of a discussion between us students and John Delaney.  It was incredibly thought provoking, and everyone had different viewpoints on nearly every issue, showing how hard it can be as a scientist to humble yourself and be able to convey the importance of what you are doing to non-scientists.  This has given me a lot to think about how I will proceed forward in my life as a potential scientist.

8 August, 2014

After my shift in the morning, I felt extremely bloated and gassy.  Any time I belched, it felt like I was burning the back of my throat.  I think I am having some acid reflux.  However, I always seem to get better after napping.  So today I took a very long nap after watch.  I even slept through the 2:00 lecture, which was something I usually do not do.  I ended up waking at 17:00, feeling very refreshed.  Unfortunately, not much work was done on the project because I started my day so late.  It was fun hanging out with the other students on the expedition and playing board games and watching movies.  This is a great group of people, and it makes me glad I participated in this.

7 August, 2014

Today started off quite rough.  I was very sleep deprived and had to be on a full watch.  Since I did not take a nap before my shift, I was constantly trying to stay awake, and my shift felt way longer than 4 hours.  Another dive was started, but there were a lot of problems connecting the cables, so the dive ended up taking way longer than originally planned.  Looks like I will definitely have watch again tomorrow morning.

The lecture today at 14:00 was very interesting.  Dana shared with us the photos she took while scuba diving at the Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, and Costa Rica.  The images were incredible, and the animals she saw were gorgeous and awesome.  Definitely the best lecture we have had so far. Working on the project today was taxing, as I was really tired.  It was much harder to formulate ideas for the slides in the PowerPoint.  I will be sure to take a nap, however brief it may be, before my watch.

6 August 2014

Today started off with a long shift on ROPOS.  The shift consisted of observing descent, set up, and the beginning of laying cable.  I then slept in until the 2:00 lecture by someone on the ship.  It felt bizarre to sleep in that late because I have never needed to have anyone come wake me up for lecture.  James, I believe, who explained the software and technical parts that were associated with operating the deep profilers (one of which is being installed today), gave today’s lecture.  The rest of the day was spent working on Matt and my project.  I think we have decided to go with a PowerPoint presentation that has a couple videos in it.  The format is outlined, and now it is time to start putting in the information we have gathered.

The ROPOS shift schedule is confusing, as none of us knew when the dive would be starting.  While we waited we worked on projects and relaxed.  In the end, I think I will go to bed and try and get some sleep before my possible shift, and we will see how the day will begin tomorrow.

5 August 2014

Today’s shift for ROPOS was very short, I basically only had to watch the last hour of ascent, which was nice because it allowed me to get a good amount of sleep without having to make sure I was awake before lunchtime.  Kendra Daly presented today on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how the spill impacted the ecosystem and water column there.  It was quite an impressive presentation that surprised me; I did not expect how much more oil would be naturally processed by nature than us manually cleaning it up.

Most of today was spent on working on the project with Matt.  I believe we have all the data we need; now it comes down to deciding what format we want to go with for our project. I am thinking a PowerPoint will be much easier to put together and not as time-consuming as a video, however I will need to consult with Matt. 

ROPOS is being delayed significantly again due to problems unknown us.  May be weather, technical issues, etc., but either way I anticipate having the decent watch during Caitlin’s and my shift.  While we wait for final details, a combination of darts and Blue Planet is a great way to relax late at night.

4 August 2014

Today I did not have a watch for ROPOS.  The dive was surprisingly short, and ROPOS ascended before Matt and Alex’s shift even ended.  Instead of doing another dive, the decision was made to head to the axial base to do take care of the objectives there (for reasons unknown to me).  The transit was very long, about 15 hours.  Readjusting to the incredible rocking during transit was a huge struggle.  I ended up having to lie down and sleep through most of the transit; however, I did manage to bear my seasickness through our lecture about ROPOS and the deep-sea profilers.  After arriving at the axial base, ROPOS was delayed a bit due to weather.  Even with the delay, I do not think I will be on ROPOS watch tomorrow morning due to the shortness of the dive.

3 August 2014

Today was much busier on the ship.  I was finally able to get on my shift during a ROPOS dive.  The dive watch that I participated in involved the laying of cable by using ROCLS, and then the surveying of the cable to make sure it the cable was not twisted or damaged in any way.  During the cable surveying, I saw an incredible amount of deep-sea life, despite not being close to hydrothermal vents.  The most abundant organism was the rattail fish.  Every couple minutes or so I would see one, two, or even three just hanging out together. Occasionally there would be the odd starfish, a spider crab, or some kind of sea urchin.  Four hours is a long time to just sit and stare at the computer screen, but I consider myself lucky that I did not have ascent or descent on my shift this time around. 

At around 2:00, we had a lecture from Mike, who is a specialist in deep-sea ecosystems and deep-sea organisms.  He had a lot great advice and interesting facts, and I think he will be a great resource for Matt and me for our project. 

Tonight, I woke up at midnight, just to get some work on my project before my shift. Luckily I ran into both Alex and Matt.  They informed me that the dive was super short, and about 15 minutes into their shift (12:00-400 am), ROPOS was hauled out of the water and back onto the boat.  I was planning to stay up later, but then I felt the ship start to move.  It turned out that the science team decided to cut our stay at the slope base by one dive, and decided to go work on the axial slope area.  It is a 15 hour transit, and I hope nobody gets too seasick.

2 August 2014

Today I am feeling a lot better.  I managed to go through most of the day without having to lie down and take a 2-3 hour nap.  I was even able to eat something other than saltine crackers and drink ginger ale.  I am finding a lot of solace in tea and the ginger candy.  Everyone on the expedition is a fount of knowledge and good advice, and are all very understanding and supportive towards seasickness.  Because I was able to walk around today, Matthew, Corey, and I helped Julie with the CDT sampling.  I still do not remember what that is called, so I will need to ask Julie about it again.  The ROPOS dive got delayed today from 0800 to 2000 because of a broken piece.  Hopefully that means I will be part of the next dive and be able to take pictures at the slope base, which is where we are now.  Now that I am no longer seasick, it feels like a plethora of things to do have come before me, and I am very excited to see what I can help people with. 

Developing a project is turning out to be quite difficult.  I do not want to simply copy someone else’s idea because I want my idea to be original.  However, due to my lack of experience in oceanography, I am finding a hard time coming up with original ideas.  Instead, I will try to utilize my expertise in the microbiology field to help others with their projects.

1 August 2014

We casted off today at 10:30am, and even with the patch and supplemental Dramamine, I managed to get pretty seasick, in addition to some really bad cottonmouth.  I would only be able to stay on my own two feet for 10-15 minutes before needing to lie down.  After each nap, my ability to move around increased significantly, but I remained essentially useless today.  Unfortunately, but also luckily, my shift to watch ROPOS was not needed because the first dive was only 6 hours long.  ROPOS got pulled out of the water at 3:30 am, and my watch is from 4:00-8:00 am.  Maybe tomorrow (I suppose later today) I will get an opportunity to be a part of a dive.