Before I was involved in this project and came out to sea, I always thought scientific cruises always go smoothly...
The RSN-OOI high definition camera at the base of the hydrothermal vent called Mushroom during its test dive with ROPOS (Dive 1636). Photo credit: NSF-OOI/UW/CSSF.
28 July 2014
This day was the day of great accomplishments. As I woke up in the morning for my watch, I was greeted by the beautiful views of many hydrothermal vents at ASHES vent sites. It was great to see them, and during my watch, I had the privilege of taking photos to create a photo mosaic at the site where the Cam HD and Thermistor array is located, which was around the Mushroom hydrothermal vent. Additionally, a video survey of the vent was taken, so I was able to see the smoker, pouring out hot liquid into the cold surrounding seawater. It was amazing to see the biology living at those vents and imagine how extreme life can be for the tubeworms and scale worms that occupy most of the vent. The ROPOS team was also able to successfully replace the old thermistor array with the new one, and a month of data was retrieved. They were also able to replace the older junction box (MJ03B).
The next dive later that evening after a little malfunction with the RIB pressure, ROPOS was able to connect with the old Cam HD camera placed at Mushroom. Ben Brand, one of the Applied Physics Laboratory engineers that helped design the Cam HD, scrambled to get live video from the camera. It was an intense moment for everyone, waiting to see if the camera was functional. On the ship, there was a spare functional and updated Cam HD if the one down on the sea floor was not working. After 50 minutes, one of the most amazing images of the growing algae and little bugs was on the screen. Everyone awed in amazement and once the camera was in focus to the hydrothermal vent, the view was amazing; I was able to see the bacterial mats, palm worms, scale worms, hot fluid, and the thermistor array placed next to the camera. In conclusion, the day was very successful and everyone was happy.
27 July 2014
Sunday was a time to reflect as the cruise comes closer to the end. My video was finished, and as I was reflecting, I noticed how many issues we had during the expedition, from weather hold to technology malfunctions. Before I was involved in this project and came out to sea, I always thought scientific cruises always go smoothly, and you always complete tasks, but I realized now that it is not that easy. Many variables had to be taken account each day when planning out the tasks for the day. In reality, scientific cruises are difficult and always have been throughout the years. John Delaney’s vision of having a cabled observatory is really great, because it would minimize or even eliminate the weather variable and with the advancing technology, the malfunctions are minimized. Additionally, today I was able to get in touch with my family back on shore. I thought to myself how far technology has come, and I felt like any dream can really become a reality. The vision of having a cabled network observatory was not so far stretched after all, considering the instrument technologies we have deployed down in the seafloor. Excitement grew, as I sat and thought of the future of ocean sciences and how it will change the world and hopefully save it.
26 July 2014
This day could be summarized with a title, “The Last Stretch.” After being up for 23 hours, I was finally able to sleep at 10 am. Throughout the night, I have been working on my project through the morning. I was held back by the slow transfer of a 400 Gigabyte video of last year’s deployment of Cam HD, which took about two hours. During the wait I was able to work on the script for the video. Many edits were made to improve the wordings, message, and the structure. There was only one computer that had the proper video editing software, so even after the file was done transferring, I had to wait for the last group to finish working on their video, so the wait was prolonged from two hours to eight hours; from Friday evening to Saturday morning. After all the wait and struggles I was able to work on the video at 6 pm on Saturday, which continued until 12:30 am on Sunday. I felt very accomplished by the end, and the product was decent. Final evaluations will be done on Tuesday on a transit back to land, and my excitement for poetry night is rising. Overall, “the last stretch” was successful with the video project about Cam HD, and the weather was so nice that I was able to take a break and see the stars at night at the bow of the ship, appreciating what nature has to offer. Like me, nature has evolved through many struggles and there’s still room for improvements.
25 July 2014
Career has been a hot debate among many people in the younger generations. This expedition have taught me that a degree doesn’t equal a career and some people get into the career they are in by connections and internships, but some are lucky enough to get jobs from the degree they set out studying. Friedrich gave a lecture about his experiences in different NOAA ships, doing lots of seafloor mapping. It seemed to be an amazing experience. From his talk, I learned how useful knowing GIS can be in the oceanographic career. I also found that his school and the University of Washington has a great BEAMS program where I am able to learn to use this complex, but useful software to process data from a multi-beam sonar. I will be in the BEAMS program in the fall, and knowing this, I am very excited to take the class. This also made me question my future; am I qualified enough to be in a career related to oceanography? Through all of the conversations I’ve had with many of the engineers and scientist on the ship, I’ve come to one conclusion when it comes to a career. This conclusion is to really pursue what you love to do, work hard at it, look for opportunities and have an open mind, without too many expectations. This expedition is a great experience to really discover, learn, and grow in the oceanographic field and as a person.
24 July 2014
July 24, 2015
“Push, Pull, push, pull…” Those were the words I said as the crank shaft rotated around and cables were being spooled. It was exhausting, but adrenaline rushed through my body, and spooling grew easier. There was about 200 m of cables to be spooled and about 12 people helping either by holding the cable, gluing down the cable, and pushing the spool and flange box to help with the rotation. It was a fun and tiring experience, but showed how teamwork can get work done faster and efficiently. Throughout this cruise, I have seen a lot of teamwork among the ship crew, scientist, and ROPOS crew. It is amazing how everyone can work together no matter who they are. No hierarchy is in place, and even I, as a student am considered as part of the science team; able to get access to all of the data, and contribute in any of the project discussions with the engineers, and chief scientist. Additionally, my peer students have been great at helping me and each other on projects, and entertain each other. I have never felt strong relationships and teamwork among students before. I thought previously that 2 weeks with the same people would grow very boring, and we would run out of things to say and do, but new experiences and conversations grew. I hope that this will continue after the cruise and involvement will continue. This Regional Scale Node project has been a great team and skill building opportunity for me, and I experience this everyday.
23 July 2014
Eleven days at sea feels like a long time. Although we only have a week left for the leg, there is much to be done. My project with creating video for Cam HD is at a phase of writing the script so that video can be compiled. Cam HD is a high definition camera that is on the seafloor to capture the changes occurring biologically and geologically at a hydrothermal vent called Mushroom. This camera will improve the way oceanographer do scientific research. There will be no more spending a lot of money to go out to sea and collect data, risking lives and accuracy of data, possibly due to weather or other influences. Additionally, it will allow citizens to be a part of the oceanographic community and gain awareness of the impact they have to the ocean. Although the video will only be about 2- 3 minutes long, it will help introduce and familiarize everyone with the instrument.
22 July 2014
After finding the perfect spot for the broadband seismometer the previous day, today was the time to load sandbags into the ROPOS toolbox. There were about 20 sandbags that needed to be loaded for padding the broadband seismometer from any external influences that can possibly affect the seismic data that are being transmitted. A whole group of students and engineers came out and helped to move the sandbags from the upper deck to the main deck. The sandbags were relatively heavy, but with teamwork we were able to load them quickly and efficiently into the toolbox. It was a really fun day with loading the sandbags. During the lecture time, Dana Africa, one of the A.B. on the ship was able to share her pictures from diving in Western Australia; there were many organisms she encountered. For example, she encountered Nudibranch, Puffer fish, Shark, Tuna, Monkey fish and many others that live around the coral reefs. This has sparked my interest in learning how to dive so that I can venture the world under the sea. From seeing the life around hydrothermal vents through the eyes of ROPOS to seeing pictures of living organisms around coral reefs, my love for the ocean has grown ever stronger, and the more I see, the more I want to continue to pursue, dream, and change the fate of the ocean.
21 July 21 2014
Historic moments happened today. My day started at 3:30 am with a ROPOS survey to find a perfect placement of a broadband seismometer. This seismometer will record long period waves of seismic activity and send the data back to shore in real time. The broadband seismometer must be placed in a location where there are limited external influences that would curve the seismic data, such as, deep ocean currents. It is a very sensitive piece of equipment. As we hovered around the sea floor through the eyes of ROPOS, we found several spots where it could’ve been great for the seismometer, but the location is either in a hole that we couldn’t reach or one that has external influences. After two hours, a perfect location was found near two large pillow basalt boulders. There is a way for the current to affect the seismometer, but sandbags will be placed around the instrument. Later that afternoon, we were able to deploy the heavy and large ROCLS with the ship’s crane. It was a complicated process and has a big risk. The plan was to lower the ROCLS down to depth near the seafloor and release it using the acoustic release mechanism, therefore ROPOS can go down and attach to the ROCLS and lay the cables. The process succeeded, and history was made. It was an exciting time for everyone.
20 July 2014
Sunday was the day of stories and meetings. After a whole night of watch, surveying the cable laid using ROCLS (Remotely Operated Cable Laying System), I woke up at 1:30 pm and joined the lecture time at the library. The speaker was Ken Feldman, who spoke about his experiences at sea and how he got involved with the Regional Scale Node project. It was really great to listen to him, and I learned many life lessons. Additionally, a meeting about the project was held and we discussed how everything is going. We discussed about the different fascinating projects from biology videos, instrument videos, and the overall life on the ship. For my project with Gina and Charles, we’ve established that we will explain about the instruments used for the Regional Scale Node (RSN) and explain why and how they are used to achieve the goals of the RSN project. This will help general audiences to understand the basics of the instruments and help initiate research projects or interest for the new technologies.
19 July 2014
Round and round, back and forth, crisscrossing at every turn is the technique to cable spooling. The day was short for me because I had been resting due to the migrane I experienced. But otherwise, I learned how to spool and prepare the cable on ROCLS (ROPOS Operated Cable Laying System). As complicated the technique was, the experience was fun, and fascinating. Careful handling of the cable was required. For example, stepping on the cable and dragging the cable on the deck was not allowed. Although the cables were made to be tough for the water, they are very fragile on land. I learned that the cables contained copper wires to transfer power and fiber optics to transfer data. Additionally, in order to hold the spool in place, in front of ROCLS, one of the field engineer, Keith, had to think of a way so that removing is also easy for ROPOS. This was fascinating. There were pin techniques, simple knots, O-rings, and specialized handles.
18 July 2014
Excitement and frustration each occurred on this day. The day began at 9:00 am for me. I just missed breakfast, but I was awake and ready to work. I started the day by catching up with my blogs for the previous two days, and when boredom came upon me, I helped out the engineers with the rigging of the instruments. The experience was fun, and I learned a little more about the instruments, specifically the short period seismometer, which measures short period seismic activity. This greater knowledge of the short period seismometer will be quite useful in the project I am working on with Charles and Gina.
We have planned to create informational videos about each instrument that are on the ship and will be deployed. These instruments are the mass spectrometer, HD video camera, resistivity temperature probe, broadband seismometer, short period seismometer, digital still camera, bottom pressure and tilt sensor, temperature probe, as well as the infrastructure such as primary node, secondary node, cables, and plugs. So far, we have collected interview footages for the seismometer, HD video camera, and the resistivity probe. Although there are still more videos to capture, we are in a good standing. In July 18th, the target audience was established for the informational videos. Gina and I will try to target junior and high school, and the general public, while Charles is targeting mostly higher-level college students. This was an exciting decision because I like working with the general public and younger generations to inform them about the ocean and tools to study about the complex marine ecosystem.
Although the day was exciting for me, it was frustrating for the whole Regional Scale Node project due to the ROCLS (Remotely Operated Cable Laying System) sinking into the sediment and recovery was difficult. ROPOS surveyed the area carefully, and found only soft sediments with a lot of brittle stars and sea pigs. A boulder was also found around the area, and when the ROPOS touched the boulder, it appeared to be soft and was made up of a jelly like substance. Everyone was surprised in the room, and no one knew what the boulder was made of. This mystery will always linger in everyone’s minds, especially mine. My hypothesis was that this area is full of some kind of fecal substance, and the boulder might have been a fecal deposition that accumulated throughout the years and compacted due to the high pressure.
17 July 2014
Hydrothermal vents have been hypothesized to be a place where life started on planet Earth. One might ask, what are the ingredients of life? Life needs some form of energy and water. Here on the surface, we observe that most life uses light from the sun as a source of energy and the three percent of freshwater available to us from the ground. It was amazing to see the life in the hydrothermal vents through the camera lens of ROPOS. Most life down in the depths of the ocean uses a process of chemosynthesis. Organisms take in chemical energy from all of the minerals and heat that comes out of the vents rather than using light. It is quite fascinating to see tube worms, scale worms, palm worms and limpets living in water temperatures that can rise up to 300°C. We were able to observe a vent called El Guapo in the International District. This hydrothermal vent is about 16 meters tall! Additional to the hydrothermal vents we were able to explore the ocean floor and see the amazing pillow basalts. Later in the evening, I had the privilege to measure the pH on the water collected near the hydrothermal vent. It was incredibly acidic with a pH about 3 to 4. There are many more exciting events to experience, when ROPOS will lay cables on the ocean floor.
16 July 2014
Waves crashing, head spinning; that is how I would summarize day four. In the early morning I was awake, only to find out ROPOS deployment was delayed two hours. While I waited, I could hear hear waves hammering at the bow, aft, port, and starboard. The raging seas caused a worry in many scientists’ faces. The ocean is unforgiving, and one mistake can cause a loss. Two hours later, the deployment was delayed again. Finally, when breakfast time came at 7:15 am, it was decided that no deployment would take place that day. It was heartbreaking for everyone; the anticipation grew as the day passed.
Although the ROPOS deployment did not take place, a CTD cast was performed. CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth. There are 24 Niskin bottles surrounding the instrument, and we were able to collect water samples up to 1500 m depth. Oxygen and salinity samples were collected and analyzed for each 10 m depth. Also, a depth profile of the water column was collected using the CTD. After the first cast, we did another cast to collect water samples at same locations, to a depth of 2500 m. We also attached Styrofoam cups and wig head onto the frame of the CTD in order to shrink them due to the high pressure, and create miniature heads and cups. The water from 2500 m was stored in three carboys. One of the ship’s crew, Dana, also collected the water into a giant metal pan in order to extract salt from it. She suggested that each area and depth of the ocean contains a special salt with a distinct taste. The trickiest part was bringing the water into the kitchen, which was one deck up and with the rocking ship. Krista and I succeeded at this task with minimal water spilled, and in the next few days we will receive a piece of the salt. Even though there weren’t many activities with the ROPOS, I was able to create activities for myself and started getting involved with the engineers, helping out with making ROPOS instrument handles. The day ended with “Life Aquatic,” a comedic movie about life on a research vessel.
15 July 2014
Today was the first day of being on watch. Observations and critical events between 4:00 and 8:00 am were logged for ROPOS. There were interesting creatures found in the water such as jellyfish, squid, and rat tail fish. ROPOS’ main objective was to cut tangled or broken cables and recover them. It was an amazing sight to watch the pilots controlling the hand of the robot to untangle cable, placing them on a mechanical knife, and grabbing tools from the toolbox that the robot had attached to its underside. This instrument and vehicle illustrates the great advances of technology. And not only is ROPOS a remote operated vehicle; it is a great tool for advancing the future of oceanic sciences, as it is able to help scientists go to depths that are difficult to reach, and achieve goals that have never been achieved.
14 July 2014
As the new day began, I opened my eyes to a raging sea rocking back and forth, side to side, and loud bangs down the hallway. I climbed down from my bunk, only to receive cold hard tile, blood rushing through my head, and dizziness. I went up the stairs to the galley, but all I thought of was the rocking of the ship. Looking at the little starboard side window of the galley and all I could see were waves crashing onto each other, and the ship felt like it was on an angry whale’s back. I grew weary as the time passed, and the world felt like it was spinning around. 6:00 am was the time to have a morning lecture, but soon after I sat down, I felt my stomach content rushing up my digestive system and water came out again and again, until everything inside was empty. It was a very difficult day to be productive, trying to compile information about the project with an empty stomach. My energy was consumed and conscience was lost. After many tries in taking medicine to heal, I was finally able to eat at 6:00 pm.
I am far from recovery, but hope tomorrow will be better with the scheduled watch at 4:00 am. The whale is still enraged, but hope is not lost.
13 July 2014
As the sun rose in the East, my journey began at 4:45 am. Time lapse pictures were captured as the sun crept over the space needle to unveil the magnificent Mt. Rainer above the Seattle port skyline. It was a cold morning and eyes were heavy, but the beauty of the sunrise captivated my attention, and all was forgotten. I then decided to go down to the room, grabbed my coat and stayed around longer. At 6:30, I headed up to the galley and enjoyed three blueberry muffins and soy milk, while conversing with my colleagues. Breakfast time was at 7:15, and a 2 hour nap came soon after to recover loss of sleep. At roughly 11:00, the whole ship performed a safety briefing, where everyone had to wear a funny looking, orange safety wet suit, about ½ inch thick in the main lab of the ship. My suit was a little too big height wise, making my feet look large. Lunch was at 12:30.
After lunch, a meeting was held with John Delaney, Deb Kelley, Giora Proskurowski, and Leslie Sautter to discuss the group projects. I am planning to tackle documenting the instrumentation in the cabled network. A short, detailed, fun, 2 minute videos will be made to explain the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the instrument. I felt a little dizzy at this point from the rocking of the ship, while researching for my instrument, but I didn’t feel sick. I went outside and the dizziness was relieved. Another meeting we had in the evening was a mini lecture that John Delaney had prepared from his previous talks at University of Washington about the Arts and Culture of the oceans. He discussed the influence and connection the human race has with the global ocean. He presented different works of art in the form of paintings, poems, music, and scientific modeling animations to show how much influence and innovations have been sparked from the love of the complex marine ecosystem.
After the lecture, I went out to the Bow and cold wind ran through my face, and clothing. During this time, the sun was setting down behind the Olympic Mountains, ending the day with a peaceful mind and heart knowing that the world is still good for another day. I was also starting to like the rocking because it feels like riding a roller coaster on a never ending track! Overall, day one was great. I am getting to know the people on board and learning more about the project and how everything is planned out. Tomorrow I hope to have a better understanding about the instruments and will be able to take more pictures.