By Chloe Immonen
25 July 2018 @ 10:34
Unfortunately, shaft/cycloconverter (fancy pieces of machinery in the engine room) failures meant that science operations stopped a day early. We were forced to steam straight to Utqiagvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow) to avoid being stranded on a station in the middle of the ocean. Thankfully, this allowed us to spend that day packing up all of the equipment and get a good night’s sleep.
I’m increasingly aware of how incredibly rare it is for undergraduate students to participate in research cruises and I am even more grateful to have been given this opportunity. It is something I will cherish for a long time and I cannot wait to get back on a ship. I love doing science on boats. Despite rarely getting more than four hours of sleep at a time, being cloaked in endless fog, and missing three of the nicest weeks of the summer in Victoria, it was so worth it for this incredible experience of lifetime. The number of times I found myself BEAMING all alone, basking in how happy I felt, was a little ridiculous.
All of the tough things about being at sea made the positive things that much more welcome. A day of sun, a whale sighting, making connections with people from all walks of life, pensive life chats at 04:30 staring into the still-lit horizon, dancing to Motown hits while sampling from the rosette, hot tub soaks sailing past the Aleutians, gaining practical skills and knowledge associated with jobs I want to pursue, the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had, getting to see sea ice in person, collecting rocks from the bottom of the Chukchi (yes, I have been told that getting excited about this makes me a nerd), and even the daunting/rigorous arctic crossing ceremony (this shellback is no longer a lowly tadpole!!) – all of these things outweighed the trying times by far.
Final tally of wildlife seen:
- >3 pods of grey whales in various locations
- We almost hit a grey whale but the Captain saw it in time and Andre-Ann steered away perfectly!
- Breaching grey whale
- Countless bald eagles and a humpback whale coming into Dutch Harbor (seen from the hot tub)
- Many puffins, parasitic jaegers, gliders, fancy arctic ducks
- >4 albatross
- Lots of benthic organisms pulled up from the ocean floor during Van Veen mud grabs
- One adorable baby seal – the size of a loaf of bread!! It swam right up to the ship while we were on a station!
It was too foggy on our last day on the ship to helicopter off so we took our final glances of the CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier from the “safety” of a Zodiac. I don’t think this is the last time the Laurier and I will cross paths.