The Ocean: A Monster, A Mother, and A Madman

July 10, 2023

Elijah Busch

Deckhand Becca Cox on lookout as a sunrise rainbow leads to one of the red-footed boobies on the bowsprit

Ship's Log

Noon Position
4° 31.4' N, 169° 16.6’ W

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Pastel Cumulous Nimbus Clouds That Look Like The Kind Unicorns Would Ride.

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-310

The night before, the 9-foot waves battered our hull, wind shrieking and threatening to blow our vessel into the gray waters which surround us far beyond what our eyes can see. This was the sort of night I am sure to have only been brought about by the presence of the Kraken. In the morning everything was quiet, like the ocean was embarrassed from its last night’s behavior. The air was saturated with salt and moisture with a sickening heat that seemed to affect the mental state of all aboard the Robert C. Seamans. Even the boobies seemed less enthused by their usual hobby of defecating on us. As the hours dripped by, the heat increased; threatening to overheat our computers in the precious air-conditioned dry science laboratory. Even now as I type this, sweat has been dripping onto my keyboard at an offensive rate.Awakening to the soft lullaby of waves, we gather on the deck. The scent of freshly-brewed coffee mingles with the briny tang of the sea, invigorating our senses for the day ahead. Throughout the day, the ship becomes a hive of activity. As the sun casts its gentle glow upon the deck, the rhythms of shipboard life merge with the ebb and flow of the ocean. Here, amidst the endless horizon, we forge connections, share stories, and cultivate a camaraderie that transcends the boundaries of the vessel.In the laboratories, myself (Elijah Busch, a student from Oberlin College), student Hallie, and assistant scientist Hannah pore over data from the previous watch's neuston net, tucker trawls, phytoplankton net and hydrocast water samples. Lab was filled with looking through the aperture of dissecting microscopes, and counting copious quantities of cannibalistic copepods, with occasionally an amphipod or Lucifer shrimp scattered among them. Looking through the microscope, to me, is like looking into an entirely unexplored universe. Here are creatures who cannot even comprehend who we are, and who live by their own laws and who look like they are from planets far outside of our universe.Time is a fickle thing in the center of the Pacific. That is not necessarily to say it feels faster or slower, but rather it just does not seem to hold as much meaning. Yes, watch rotations and meals follow a set schedule; however, minutes are stretched into hours and days, and days seem to crash into one another. Sextants hold constant to tell me that this blue marble we cling to hasn’t ceased its spinning as it hurtles through the all-encompassing space.In the dusk hours before twilight, a hushed anticipation fills the air. We gather on the deck, our eyes tracing the delicate pastel hues of sunset on the western horizon. It is a moment of quiet reflection, a merging of past, present, and future. As night descends upon the vessel, a transformation occurs. The vast expanse of the Pacific reveals its celestial splendor, unveiling a dazzling canopy of stars. It is a moment of introspection, a reminder of the infinitesimal space we occupy in the grandeur of the universe. As my body could no longer ignore my bed's siren call, my mind became a tumultuous maelstrom of delirium, filled with a cacophony of strange visions and wild hallucinations that left me unable to distinguish between reality and the twisted fantasy of my own imagination.My love to my two dads, and my grandma, who without their support and care I would never have had the courage to set foot on this boat. Also, a specialshout out to my sister Vita, I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! Ella, I hope you are having a fantastic summer; I am beyond envious of the cool airof Sitka, although  Rocky (The Chief Mate here aboard) keeps reassuring the crew that in just a few miles it will be winter. And of course, my friendsand family I wish I had the space and words to express just how much you all mean to me and how much I miss you! <3 <3 <3[Also, I’m pretty sure “A watch” won the pin rail relay race--a motivation to learn all our lines--since we finished our "conga line" first, even though all teams started the "conga line" at about the same time. Every watch group did a fantastic job cheering each other on and keeping spirits soaring!]

During the excitement of the "pin chase," Elijah, second from the right, plays it up for the camera

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2 Comments

  1. Stephen Davis July 18, 2023 at 18:20 - Reply

    Elijah – This was such a great post. Cannibalistic copepods — whoa… Can’t wait to hear more! Take care.

    Stephen & Jeffrey

  2. Maya Gabelberger July 20, 2023 at 20:23 - Reply

    Lots of giggles reading about the pooping boobies and embarrassed ocean and total agreement – sweat is definitely offensive! Loving the amazing descriptions you all share of the stars and the connection to the stars on this blue marble. Ps. It’s really hot in Europe and there is almost no AC there either, ug! I wish you all a wonderful winter shortly 🙂

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