Cruising Big Blue ’17: Mostly Regarding Food

by Annaliese Meyer
52˚ 56.101’ N 143˚ 27.889’ W

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1020 hours: I have noticed that I have begun talking to my filtration rig as if it is a small, disobedient child. I would be more concerned about this turn of events, except it seems to be working – the rig has been behaving particularly well recently, so the occasional reprimands I give it are tinged with fondness.

In all seriousness, ship life has begun to settle into a bit more of a routine. I wake up to check on the rig a couple times during the night, and take another sample depending on when my last one was. Around five, I’ll check on it one more time and decide what needs to be done that day. Breakfast is promptly at six. I’ll usually have crawled back into bed for 20 minutes of shut-eye after the 0500 check, so my alarm startles me back to reality with bursts of static. For some reason, I’ve opted to leave it on whatever radio station it was set to when I co-oped it from my older sister’s bedroom, so there is no discernible music whatsoever. Then again, my radio alarm at home has been set to the same station since 2006, despite the fact that I don’t get that station in Victoria, nor do I really listen to that sort of music any more. Maybe I’m comforted by static. I’m not going to try to analyze that particular quirk any further.

Breakfast usually involves me trying and failing to avoid whatever decadence is prepared by the wonderful chefs (this morning was chocolate covered croissants) and making up for it by having eggs as well. It’s always an interesting mix of moods at breakfast – many of us stumble in, groggy and grumbling, only to be greeted by those still on shift from midnight to noon like Ryan, who are a little less stunned by sleep and comparatively quite chipper. After that, and a caffeine jolt to the system, we head back up to the lab. I take another sample, maybe start a new column on the rig if one finishes, then have a quick nap to make up for the sleep missed at night. By 0800, the CTD is cast, and is winched back up with its Niskin bottles full by 9 or so. After sampling – I don’t actually work with any of the samples from the Niskins, but Sile and Dr. Varela let me help with their sampling so I can get some experience – it’s back to the lab to process. With Sile and Dr. Varela vacuum filtering for silica and nutrients, and my rig running for radiocesium, it can get pretty loud in here. However, putting a cellphone in a large plastic speaker amplifies music astonishingly well, and it can break through the background noise. With the lights off in the lab to protect the chlorophyll samples, it’s quite the party. (Wooo, science!)

Lunch is an affair that often entails bizarre and fascinating conversations that start rather rationally. For example, yesterday, we were discussing the Trappist-1 system and the meaning of the ‘Goldilocks zone’. By the end, we were switching between fairly graphic descriptions of the bends and other perils of diving, and racking our brains trying to figure out what the newest Alien movie was called. (For the record, it’s Alien Covenant). I usually try to get out on deck for a little bit after lunch, and stand next to the incubator on the helicopter deck while watching the waves.

Typical Argo float deployment. There are currently 3838 (as of 12 July 17) of these floats drifting the global ocean collecting data. (Argo Program)

Yesterday, we had an Argo float deployment during that time as well – I’ll send along a couple pictures when I’m back in internet. Argo floats can are all over the world’s oceans, descending and reascending to relay information about the ocean profile where they are situated to satellites, and then to scientists around the world to analyze.

Speaking of lunch, it’s about that time. I promise to return with further ramblings later today.

Laurier 2017 - July 11th
The CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier is currently enroute between Victoria, BC and Barrow, AK. It is currently steaming north of Dutch Harbor, AK.

1900 hours: This evening can be summarized best by telling you that it involved Oreo ice cream cake, some emotional trauma regarding Bambi’s mom, and the initial draft of plans to make a cannon for deploying Argo floats. The internet access is getting more and more questionable, so I’m going to send this off before we lose it entirely. Until next time!

Update: Lost internet entirely in the five minutes between finishing this and trying to send it off, so this will come to you once we reach Dutch Harbor.

Annaliese Meyer is aboard the CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier as part of InFORM’s annual summer oceanic monitoring program. The ship left Victoria, BC on July 3rd and arrived in Barrow on July 23rd. Read her other posts: I Need to Explore, Out of Sight of Land, The Life AquaticCaffeine and Bittersweet Farewells

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