Hello! I am finally 20 years old and I got to celebrate it with the crew and the ocean – what a true delight. I have so many things to share from the cruise thus far but I shall share what has happened today. I started my morning at 0030 (1230 am) for dawn watch that was from 0100 to 0700. The science lab today cleaned the niskin bottles – cheers to the birthday niskin bottle party! Niskin bottles are used to capture water samples at different depths when deployed on the CTD. We have used the CTD and niskin bottles the entire trip and now it’s time to clean them! Yay! It has been absolutely fantastic doing science at sea every day.
It’s remarkable to see real live data that we are capturing and being able to interpret that data to understand the ocean around us at any given moment. Some examples of this are that as we have entered the California Current, the flow through data, which reports data about the sea water we are sailing through, has shown a decrease in water temperature and an increase in chlorophyll. I sense upwelling!
Additionally in terms of plastics, since we have exited the gyre, plastic concentrations have drastically decreased. At one point I was counting up to 700 pieces of plastic in the high accumulation zone of the gyre and yesterday the lab reported only one piece of plastic from the neuston tow! Like I said, it is truly a magical thing to be able to see what is going on around us in the Pacific ocean.
After Dawn watch was over I ate breakfast (the food has been immaculate the entire trip!!!!) and went back to sleep as one does after dawn watch.
Shortly after I woke up and continued to work on my final research paper that is due tomorrow. Stress levels are high but the research we have found is quite interesting and I am excited to report it in a formal paper. Then we had class and everyone sang happy birthday to me as they brought out a peanut butter chocolate cake! My jaw almost dropped in the ocean at how surprised I was! I am so thankful for the love I am receiving today. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and love! Also thank you to all at home that are sending me birthday love as well. I love you all!
I want to end by saying the trip has been so many things all wrapped in a month. From sailing with six sails up to seeing Glaucus sp. (the blue sea dragon sea slug!) in the nesuton tow to striking the Main sail at 1:30 am sailing 9 kts and feeling the force of merciless squalls, I really could not ask for anything better. I feel in the right place here at the interface of science and sailing. I have found a new love and appreciation for science that is done at sea as well as for the sailors who sail the high seas. I feel at home here on the Robert C. Seamans and am overfilled with gratitude as I turn 20 today. Thank you magical ocean, for bringing us all together and always being you.
P.S. Hello mom, dad, sis, kyle, and everyone else! I miss you guys and love you so much! I can’t wait to tell you guys all about the trip in more detail. I truly had an amazing birthday and can’t wait to spend it with all of you when I get home. Kyle I hope you had the job interviews and feel good about all the effort you have put in. I love you and want to remind you that you are amazing regardless of the outcome. Okay, getting ready for dinner and night watch! Until we talk soon.
P.P.S. We had birthday dolphins ride our bow wake today!!!
With love, salt, wind, and a little toss of birthday sprinkles,
Samantha Schlegel, B Watch, University of Tampa