by Sara Zeidan
After two weeks straight of living on a boat I have finally touched solid ground! I could not help but naturally sway from side to side as I walked along the port of the Institute of Ocean Sciences, seems I am more prone to land sickness than sea sickness.
I currently sit on the window seat of my plane heading back to Ottawa, reflecting on the memories and experiences during the past few weeks. In all honesty, I have a hard time even processing that all of this has happened simply because it was a dream come true. Watching countless documentaries on our oceans, constantly reading about exciting oceanographic expeditions around the world in National Geographic’s and looking up to world renowned oceanographers, such as Sylvia Earle. These are what have inspired me to pursue oceanography throughout the years as I reside in Ottawa, with no neighboring oceans whatsoever. Then, the next thing I know I’m 1,500 km in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by professional oceanographers, waking up surrounded by nothing but open ocean, physically learning the vast amount of knowledge in the field of ocean sciences.
The majority of the rigorous work we conducted was mainly during the first week and a half of the cruise. It was an incredibly busy time, with watch shifts full of CTD rosette sampling and bongos, and constant hours of filtering sea water through our resins. One of my favorite experiences was seeing what kind of creatures the bongos captured, especially the multipurpose net. This equipment works much like a bongo but can go as deep as 3000 m and collects marine organisms at various depths. I’ve attached a few pictures of some of the great catches! The way back was much more relaxed, where had a lot more time to socialize, watch some movies and play some games.
As for the research conducted throughout Line P, everything was a success! Richard Nelson and I were able to collect multiple samples throughout the survey. For the majority of the stations we collected 60 L and filtered them through KCFC resins (the resin that is particularly sticky to cesium ions and allows us to determine the cesium concentration in each sample) to be analyzed at Bedford Institute of Oceanography. At a few of these stations, we would collect an additional 20 L and filter it through a similar resin which I plan to analyze back in Ottawa. Using both resin types we will compare the efficiency with which each resin captures the cesium radionuclides. (Greater efficiency means that more of the cesium will be captured on the resin per sample.) I also managed to collect multiple water depth samples and biological activity which I shipped back to the accelerator mass spectrometry lab at the University of Ottawa.
One major aspect of my experience was the people. Both the science and coast guard crews were all one big family by the end of the trip. It was great to see many scientist talk with passion about their projects conducted on the boat; there were a whole array of physical, chemical and biological oceanographic research going on. The coast guard crew was a group of energetic and hard working people, and many of the scientific procedures on the boat wouldn’t have been successful without them. Overall, everyone on board contributed towards a comforting and positive atmosphere throughout the cruise and I’ve made friends I hope to keep in contact with throughout the years!
Being able to drink coffee in the morning outside on the deck surrounded by kilometers of ocean. Working out in the gym only to look out the window and see whales swimming close by. Awaiting to see what exciting catches the bongo brings as it surfaces. Late night binge watching TV shows with the crew. Looking forward to see what delicious meals the cook has in store for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The list of memories goes on, all of which I will remember forever. The beauty and infinite aspects of ocean sciences I was able to experience during my trip has been inspirational. I’ve returned from this trip much wiser and passionate about oceanography and hoping that this cruise will be the first of many in my future careers.