This is Vero, co-Chief Scientist for the 305 expedition. On the 1st of October, we all participated in an array of safety drills and preparations for scientific operations– and we’re prepared for all manner of things, but are optimistic that the voyage will be steady without cause for alarms. A funny moment was when we were testing out fire hoses and a jet-skier decided to ride through the spray.
I’m happy to report that we set sail yesterday, October 2nd, and had a beautiful day, watching the shoreline of the California Coast disappear. We crossed the heavy boating area of San Diego, then plodded through the eerie kelp forest, before quickly finding ourselves above more than 2000 m of water. The ocean gets big quick! I was excited to see the kelp forest, which supports a rich ecosystem of organisms ranging from urchins, to razor clams, to turtles, otters, birds and beyond. The kelp forest is also a “blue carbon ecosystem”, which means it’s one of the Earth’s best sinks for CO2 emissions – a major cause of global climate change. Thank you kelp!
Students rotated through their first 6-hour watches, and on down-time, we all found moments to read, draw, and get to know one another. At 1600 every day, we have class, and October 2nd was our first one. The first portion of class includes a report of the sailing conditions, and science for the area; the second half is more instructional. During this first class, our Assistant Scientist Kelly led us all through a leadership exercise, where we chose 5 values to exemplify our hopes for community on board. The group chose: kindness, growth, adaptability, respect and optimism. I’m excited to see how these values set the course for our voyage, where I know we will all change in our own ways and as a group.
Science operations start today, which I’m particularly excited for! We will sample the water column, using an instrument called a CTD [Conductivity, Temperature and Depth] Rosette (google it, it’s a cool looking tool!). It will be wonderful to start collecting data and thinking about our big picture research questions – how are the different regions we are crossing responding to changes in the global climate? How to phytoplankton change from one region of the ocean to another, and how do upper trophic levels respond? How do nutrient dynamics drive the primary productivity of ocean gyres versus equatorial upwelling regions? Stay tuned to find out.
Finally, I wanted to sign off by saying – if you’re wondering about our health, rest assured that everyone is getting ample fresh air, exercise, and is being fed exceedingly well [mahi, coconut rice and sautéed green beans yesterday, as an example… and fresh caught (!!) yellowfin tuna for dinner tonight].