Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adventuring on the R/V Atlantic Explorer

The following blog post was written by a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student following their internship at BIOS.

Hello from BIOS! My name is Keeley Rideout and I am a student at the University of Colorado Boulder where I study Geography and Anthropology. Currently, I am an REU intern working with Tim Noyes in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab, to map and characterize the fish assemblages of the mesophotic zone. In early November the REU interns got to take part in the much-anticipated sampling adventure on the R/V Atlantic Explorer! A few weeks ago we gathered on-board to get acquainted with the R/V AE and prepare for 24 hours of sampling at the BATS and Hydrostation S sites. As we steamed out of the reach, we said ta ta for now to BIOS and set our sights for the open ocean.

A long BWOOOOOMP bellowed throughout the ship, calling us to the muster station for a safety debriefing, and we scuttled on deck with our heads popping through the large orange rectangular personal flotation devices (PFDs). 

Photo Credit: Mia Thomas
After the ship safety talk we met in the classroom to practice climbing into neoprene exposure suits, aka Gumby suits. Once we managed to contort our way into the red neoprene fashion statement/ monstrosity, we took turns waddling about like Randy from a Christmas Story (“Waaah, I can’t put my arms down!”). Afterwards we went our separate ways exploring the ship, and meeting the crew. 

Photo Credit: Mia Thomas

During the CTD deployment we watched the real-time collection of measurements from over 3,000 meters deep! Very cool. As the CTD made its way back to the surface we spent our time watching movies, napping, and eating delicious food from Buddy and Dexter, the culinary masters on board. These activities in fact comprised the majority of our free time aboard the R/V AE. We discovered there is nothing quite so soothing as the ship rocking you to sleep at the tempo of the ocean’s waves.

Photo Credit: Mia Thomas

Once the CTD was hauled back on deck we gloved up for some rapid-fire sampling. We each had a hand at different duties including filtering for Chloraphyll, putting formalin in the bacteria, and filtering for DNA.

Photo Credit: Mia Thomas

We learned that science never sleeps (contrary to our numerous naps) and we sampled through the wee hours of the morning. All in all, the R/V AE research cruise was a fascinating and absolutely fantastic experience!

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