Kearstin Williams Blog

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I feel like I haven’t tried to shake it up in a while with any poems, haikus, or other types of writing, so today I’m going to try and write as if this blog post was a postcard.

Greeting from the Pacific Ocean,

The weather is terrible, but I have an ocean front view! The transit was a little rough out here, but I am adjusting accordingly. I haven’t seen any locals yet, but I have been keeping my eyes open. I hope the weather is better back in Seattle than it is out here. I’ll bring back souvenirs if I ever find a t-shirt shop. Missing you all greatly,

Kearstin Williams.

August 1

During one of our engine room tours, the Chief Engineer asked who had the room with a personal bathroom, Malea and I both raised our hand already knowing what the chief was about to say. We might have the single bathroom, but that room is also right next to the bow thruster and the anchor. To say our room vibrates would be an understatement; the amount of shaking that occurs is comparable to a small magnitude earthquake. The shaking, combined with the loud smack of the anchor against the side of the ship is already enough to keep us up, but this morning we had the lovely present of fog horns every couple of minutes, as well as hammering on the deck above us.

Everything has been put on hold because of the weather, so there is limited things to help out with because nothing is going down, coming up, or being sampled. The winds and swells finally died down, and we brought up a junction box that had anemones and sea stars in it. We scraped the foot of the anemones off and threw them back out to sea hoping they might still have a chance to live. I could just imagine how much pain they were in. With the slightest touch they would curl back into a small ball and as we tried to scrape the foot off they became hard and shriveled with each jab of pain. I am hoping the weather will change so that the atmosphere around ship will change as well. I want to wear shorts, and eat lunch outside, and feel productive once again. 

July 31

The weather has been terrible lately. We’ve had to postpone many dives on account of 30 knot winds and large swells. Everything about our last leg has changed. It’s not as sunny, bright, or nice out. We seem to be stuck in a fog that allows little visibility and cools the boat down so that my usual attire of shirts and shorts is no longer appropriate. The weather has turned to complete mush and it’s hard to want to get anything done for the day. Many of the crew feel useless because nothing can really be done anywhere on the ship. Hopefully the weather adjusts and seas calm down so that we can finally start diving again.

July 30

We started steaming back into port the day before yesterday sometime around 4:00 in the afternoon, and were officially docked and free to explore Newport by noon yesterday. Not much happened this end of the week, as we are all allowed to do our own thing. I went with some other undergrads to the South Jetty and played by the seashore. We tide pooled, waded in the waves, and talked about random things. Most of the crew went out to get happy hour, meals on-shore, or hang out with loved ones. Tonight was our last night onshore and tomorrow we steam past the Jetty at around 10:00. It’s hard to believe that in about a week I will officially be back on shore and will be done sailing the high seas. Here’s to making the best of my last week!

July 28

Today was the best day of my entire life. While APL engineers deployed the deep profiler and I watched deck operations amongst a silent crowd someone spotted the spout of a nearby surfacing whale. I took the moment to slip away to the starboard side of the ship, and in between two large crates. Whilst watching the water calmly roll with each passing wave, I waited in silence focused on the surface presented to me. After what seemed like eternity I watched a whale surface, breathe, and dive back down into the depths of the water column seeing its flukes wave goodbye as it continued on its voyage. I looked around and pointed frantically until I realized no one else saw the majestic site. I looked back at the water and appreciated the moment that I would cherish for the rest of my life.

It’s not like I haven’t seen whales before. I’ve seen them off large ships, small whaling trips, and even just off the coast just looking into the ocean; but I have never seen one so close and so natural. It was a grey whale, maybe 30 feet from the boat and I could see so much of its body in detail. I felt like it approached us, instead of the other way around. Everything about the moment sent me into a trance, and afterward, a childlike state. Coming out to sea, losing cell reception, getting low quality internet, and missing friends was all worth it just to hear the whale surface so close. I had one of the best days of my entire life today.

July 27

As of now, just about everything has been going perfectly. We got the privilege and funding with NSF approval that allowed us to dive on the new eruption site, allowing us to be first eyes on whatever we would see. As predicted there was a lot of pillow basalts, collapse zones, and sky lights. The pillow basalts are created as magma escapes the sea floor and rolls onto the sea floor. It creates a river of lava that hardens and cools upon contact with cold ocean water creating a black and glassy rock. Deb describes the way pillow basalts are made as toothpaste escaping from the tube, oozing over its own trail.

As we traveled further along the eruption site we saw large microbial mats that looked like orange tinted rocks due to the bacteria that was going crazy over their new habitat. Many of the samples that we took had streaks of microbial growth in the crevices of each groove of rock.

Seeing the new eruption site was a special treat for all the Leg 2 personnel. Everyone was either crowded in the ROPOS control room, or surrounding ta TV in the main lab.  People were talking about the thickness of the pillow basalt, the lack of Rattail fish, and the timeline of the events that transpired. I think it’s interesting to see how easily people get drawn in to looking at the monitors. People coming off work would spend valuable minutes looking at the ROV travel around the seafloor instead of going to sleep because of the infectious nature of the site.

We all wish we had more time to explore the new eruption, but we know there would never really be enough. We always have more questions, want to go even further, and turn over even more rocks. It was a sad site to see us begin our ascent back up to the surface but we know that even getting those five hours was a great experience.

July 26

As I write this blog sitting on the fantail looking out at the horizon I ponder how someone can still be seasick after 22 days out at sea. Moments before I started writing this I was vomiting into trashcans and praying that my body would eventually adjust to the dynamic waves. That is one of the harsh realities of being out at sea; you are constantly moving all the time. Gentle movements that may rock some to sleep keep me up at night as my body reacts with the wave action.

Leg 2 has taught me how susceptible I am to seasickness. I wish I could be seasick only when we transit, or only when the waves get rough, or only the first couple days of the cruise, but I am constantly in a nauseating, Dramamine-taking state. I could transition into talking about the setting all around me: the gorgeous blue waves, the clouds that cluster over the horizon, or the occasional albatross in the distance; but instead I’m going to give you some words of wisdom that I have learned during these past couple of hours.

If you don’t get seasick: Bring Dramamine, bring tums, drink water, and pray the sea won’t affect you.

Based on my experience, if you do get seasick: Take Dramamine religiously. Have an escape route in every passageway for the nearest garbage, sink, bathroom, or side of ship in case of random upheaval of previous meals. Find a “happy place” that you can go to calm down and forget the rocking motion. Lastly, accept that you can only attempt to tame the seasickness and that you are under the power of the ocean.

July 24

I want to start this off by saying we have been out at sea for 20 days and I’m not home sick. You might be waiting for the implicit “yet” at the end of that statement, but I don’t think I’ll be homesick even by the end of this trip. I’ve never really been homesick before, so I don’t know or understand what it’s like to miss family, friends, or familiar routines during long trips. I just always kept myself busy or entertained to avoid those thoughts. Being “shipped out” to a new place for the entire summer for as long as I can remember has made me immune to the “homesick” disease.

There are things though that I am starting to miss. I’m starting to miss the familiar feeling of a rugby ball gliding in and out of my fingertips as I throw it around the house. I miss passing it to a teammate who may or may not catch it, we never really know. I miss late night kicking practices at Roosevelt with Marilyn. I contemplated bringing a ball out to sea with me, but just the thought of it falling over board and drifting away makes me cringe… unless I would see that rugby ball being played with by dolphins…in sunset lit waters… as whales breach in the distance…. that is the opposite of cringe worthy… If I saw that I could die happy.

I’ve started to work on Jessie and my video a little bit more in depth, that way I can start playing with the timing, the angles, the transitions, so when Jessie and I reunite in the fall, we can use this one to build off of for the future. I have high hopes for my video editing skills!!

July 23

Something about being on the brink of death made me realize what I want to do in life. I might not have actually been on the brink of death and my vision of the future will probably change in a matter of moments, but I think I’m a couple steps closer.  

During our time in port I traveled with a couple of peers to the North Jetty and walked along the rocky shore to look for anemones, sea stars, crabs, and jelly fish. Being along the rocky environment, waves crashing down, reminded me of a field trip taken years ago miles up the coast.

As an eighth grader I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted to do. If you asked me back then what I wanted to be I would have told you a marine biologist. I would have told you I had planned on going to school in California, would make marine animals my life work, and would eventually reside in Northern California as my permanent residence. Eighth grade Kearstin knew very little about herself and the world surrounding her.

You see, none of that went as planned. I go to school nowhere close to Northern California, no longer want to be a marine biologist, and want to permanently reside where I can see mountains out my window.  Things have changed since I was a child, but being on the Oregon coast brought back a childhood innocence that drove me to study science in the first place.

Every time that somebody tells me something exciting is happening I assume we’re seeing octopuses, dolphins, or whales. Although that hasn’t happened yet, I have started to realize what excites me, doesn’t excite everyone else in the same way. Being out here on the high seas has made me realize that I want a job that allows me to see marine life everyday, that lets me explore the depths of nature, and that allows me to overturn rocks and see what lies beneath.

I’m still not fully sure what I want to do when I grow up or what I aspire to be, but at the present moment, I think that’s okay.

July 22

Word to Earth, I am officially alive. I have been pretty M.I.A. for the past couple of days and I’m not sure what I am/was coming down with. It started with just sleeping. No matter how many hours I slept, nothing made me feel awake. By the end of day one, I was feeling nauseas and had a dull headache constantly throughout both my wake and sleep that was getting to the point of not wanting be upstairs. Over the duration of 48 hours, I was awake for 8 (that’s a generous amount), asleep for the rest, and eating only once a day (if I felt up for it and the nausea didn’t kick in). I’m not sure what has been happening on ship due to my lack of participation, but I can only assume ROPOS dives, HPIES, survey’s, and CTD’s.

My final thoughts in haiku form:

Why must the boat move?
I feel awful, death take me
My pain awaits me.

July 18

We can see land today and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me is excited to be able to more easily reach out to my friends, my team, my parents and the other part of me is content drifting in the middle of the ocean with little connection to the terrestrial world.

I’ll just come out and say it; I love land. I love the way a forest cools you down, pushing a crisp breath to leave your mouth as your eyes widen and your vision traces the tree line. I love the way the mountains are capped with fresh snow, trickling streams, and radiant sunlight high into the cloudbursts. The ocean offers a different type of land, not any less superior to the ground we walk on, but vastly different in the terrain and commodities it offers.

Forests are unlike those I grew up surrounding myself in: Kelp surrounds the ocean shores, allowing an abundance of easily disturbed life to grow and thrive. Deep-sea communities follow the laws of succession as tubeworms take their place on chimneys like moss on an evergreen tree. Mountainous volcanoes devastate the ocean floor creating bubble plumes that so easily float to the surface popping slowly along the way.

Something that is true for both environments is to be quiet, listening, and looking, to get the most out of any environment. For both land and sea, you will discover the most when you completely quiet down and truly look around. Something about being out at sea seems more calm and quiet than our terrestrial land. I think this comes from the lack of noise, light, and physical pollution that you always find walking about Seattle or the University District. The sea allows more time to think, look, and discover all the magnificent things around you without diverting your focus to multiple tasks.

I got to see land today. I got to see city lights in the distance and mountains on the horizon. Although I love land like no other, there is something magical about seeing it far across sweeping waves and wisps of ocean spray.

July 16

I have been spending the last few days not focused on science or my future, and instead the future of our world. Maybe it’s from the standstill in my project or the lack of control over my future right now, but there are so many things I can’t stop thinking about.  I have been thinking about the inequality of the sexes, the lack of care for our planet, the way in which we all live in comfort until personally affected. One example that perfectly illustrates this idea is the scare behind the big Pacific Northwest earthquake. A city on the Oregon coast was unable to pass a levy that would pay to rebuild an elementary school in a tsunami safe zone because residents would rather not be taxed an extra two dollars per thousand of property tax, than help take preventative measures. Those kids will most likely not make it in the case of a tsunami because they will not have the proper means to do so. I know that’s dark, but the world is sadly a darker place. I’m not going to write on all the subjects of my thoughts lately, but will let you ponder them for yourselves:

-How should we combat population growth? Should we have child limits? Should people be allowed to have 18-19 kids?
-What should we do about the drought in California? How is that affecting Seattle? How should water rights be changed? How much longer till people finally realize?
-Should gun legislation be changed? Should we make stricter laws? Does everyone deserve the right to bear arms? How will you keep gun control in check?
-Why is it bad to do things “like a girl”?  Why are girls forced to live in a male dominated society? Why are there so few women in STEM fields? How does that relate to the intersectionality of feminism?
-What can I do to help further the planet? Am I being sustainable? What can I cut out? What can I improve?

I’m sorry that post wasn’t very cheerful, but with lots of time, great people, and so much to talk about, it’s hard not to focus on everything right and wrong in the world.

July 15

I am officially the worst blogger ever. It’s July 17th at 3:35AM and I’m finally starting (not even finishing, starting) to write down my thoughts for July 15th. The past few days have felt like they are all melting together because we’re constantly changing plans whilst also falling into our normal routines. You can often find us talking with the AB’s, hanging out at the bridge, playing games in the library/galley (dependent on where the snacks are) or gazing underneath the stars.

Let me just say the view of the stars out here are amazing. We can see the milky way, planets, satellites, and constellations, which is the best type of environment to hold conversation to. Some nights we talk for hours, others we just sit and stare. I could try my best to explain it, but it just wouldn’t do the starry night any justice.

July 14

People watched over board and looked into the blue rolling waves for any sign of marine life, squinting their eyes to look closely at each wave going by. It was completely silent except for the sound of instruments running, waves caressing the hull, and the quiet clamber of onlookers. Within moments more and more people are being drawn closer to the side as word spreads there is a whale nearby. With eyes squinted and attention focused, a misty spray breaks the ocean’s surface changing the atmosphere on ship. The quiet clamber becomes louder as people point and draw others in to see the whale so close to the starboard side. Unaffected by the ships presence, the whale slipped back into water to continue its life at sea, not realizing the full effect of its existence. People waited in anticipation to see the magnificent creature once again, and after a few moments without a second viewing slipped away back into their daily routines. Students went rushing out to see the whale after the fact, and fully missed the excitement. Without a second thought, these students returned back to their routines as well. One of these students… was me. I wasn’t didn’t see the whale. I have no idea what happened. In my mind this is what probably happened, but we’ll never know. I was busily typing away in the ROPOS control room and detailing all the intrinsic details ROPOS had done to deploy and recover instruments. Don’t get me wrong, ROPOS is amazing, but the marine biology minor in me still gets giddy over whales EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

ROPOS has been doing some amazing things though too. A little while ago we got to see zones of cooled collapsed lava, called collapse zones. We could see rivers and lakes where it had pooled along the ocean bottom. The ROPOS team also told us stories of the machine using knives, seatbelt cutters, and even chainsaws. I’m trying to find photos of it using a chainsaw, but as of now I have had zero luck. ROPOS also has the ability to take samples of numerous things,; so we got to see some snail larvae, rocks, and take samples of different water depths. ROPOS is beyond cool, and it’s great seeing everything that it takes to make it work, the laws of physics it works around, and the mechanics it must use to make every dive successful…. But then again, who puts a marine biology major out at sea and expects them not to be super excited about whales EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

July 12

Everyday you wake up in a dark room, traverse a hallway with no windows down to the main lab, and see what all is going on around ship. I have never slept in this late on the boat so far, but last night was an eventful 24 hours resulting in a 3:30PM wake up.

Starting at about mid-day on the 12th my day included listening to a couple more presentations of the students choosing. We heard sea stories, ways to travel, grad school, and ultimately life stories about majors, colleges, jobs, contracting, etc. If I had to take away just one thing about those presentations it would be to do what you want. Don’t waste time in a situation you aren’t happy with because it will all fall together when you decide to go after what you really want.

After those presentations were over we messed around for awhile, worked on little things here and there, and came back to the student table to find Styrofoam cups. This might not sound all that exciting, but Styrofoam cups shrink under pressure, and with access to machines that will drop it 2600 meters to the bottom of seafloor, they will shrink a ton. Being that far down in the Ocean is equivalent to having the pressure of a Boeing747 on your chest, so if you think about that, and add in Styrofoam cups, they become a little bigger than a shot glass. Without dismay our youth took over and we drew on cups, showed them off to the crew, sent them down, and happily awaited them to return to us.

In the meantime of waiting we also helped collect CTD samples until the sunrise. From 2:00AM until 8:00AM we helped deploy and recover CTD’s, successfully going on 24hours without sleep for some of the students. Seeing the sun rise above the horizon and literally lighten the sky was a cool experience. The sunrise itself was pretty mediocre but the way the sky changed from dark to light within minutes was almost movie like.

July 11

As of now we are 300 miles off the coast of Oregon at Axial Summit and are half way through Leg 1. All of the students are getting really comfortable with their projects and are making a decent amount of headway. I’ve gotten more comfortable with my ocean acidification project and have read a couple articles that have given me an equation to compute the calcium carbonate ion concentration here out at sea. In my mind I would just plug in all the information and see what sort of answer comes out, but I know it’s more complicated than that.

All the people on crew have been absolutely amazing. From the engine room crew at the depths of the ship to the AB’s up top at the bridge everyone has been so much fun to get to know. Today we “fished” for jellyfish off the starboard side of the ship and everyone helped us engineer a bucket/rope design to collect them. People have gone out their way to make sure everyone is having a good time and enjoying himself or herself on board.

Speaking of the amazing people we have encountered, we recently had someone present to us their life journey and what they were doing on ship and I learned some things very applicable to life: 1. Don’t burn bridges. 2. It’s okay to not know what you want to do. Which is actually a little terrifying that we already have to make such decisions by the end of our high school career. This cruise has definitely helped point me in a direction and I’m starting to think NOAA would be a great goal to reach for.

July 10

“Do you have stickers?”
“What are you doing?”
“Can I touch that?”
“Can I go up there?”
“But I wanted to nap”
“That exists?!”
“Tell us a cool story!!”
“I want to do that when I grow up”

Just looking at these quotes you might have assumed they were from grade schoolers instead of undergraduates at a top research university. Something about being with the top researchers and scientists in the country makes me feel like a little kid. Always asking to know more, how things work, how someone got to their career. I think dangerous levels of enthusiasm alongside curiosity are the reasons this feeling exists. Someone on board the other day asked if we were undergrads or grad students, and we of course responded with undergrads. Their response: “that makes sense, you still like science.” Wait, wait, wait, you’re telling me when I finally finish undergrad, grad school, and get comfortable in a career that I’m going to fall out of love with something I spent so long dedicated to?! I think their comment wasn’t aimed at the lack of interest from the older scientific community, but the engagement from the younger more youthful scientific community. We lack the same level of experience, and because of that are astounded what people have thought to do in the name of science. We don’t hold the same level of understanding and need to ask more questions to fully understand everything that is happening. We watch movies and talk about how scientifically accurate they are, geek out about putting things in the water column to watch it shrink under the pressures, or gasp in excitement when we hear of ROPOS doing something cool during an operation because we haven’t “seen it all” quite yet. This innocent, curious, and questioning behavior is what I believe helps push the scientific community to ask more questions, do more experiments, and to go to bigger and better places.

July 9

Today is quite possibly the nicest day on board. I don’t think a photo could do the ships atmosphere any justice. There is something so calm and peaceful about 20 people cramming into a dimly lit room at 4:00AM to get the first look at vents, or students contemplating all of their life choices at the same time when they find something new they want to discover. Even the most stressful moments seem so much calmer out here on rolling blue waves. I can’t pinpoint what exactly makes it so picturesque out here but I love it. I love hearing the waves crash lightly against the boat, the clanking of tools against medal, the dull roar of the ships motor. Everything out here seems so much calmer, slower, and relaxed.

To contrast the tranquil atmosphere seen all around ship, I am officially having my semi-annual quarter life crisis while on board which would be fine and all except I have too much time out here to rethink EVERYTHING about my life. Should I take a fifth year? Should I add a minor? Should I consider minoring in Arctic Studies because I want to eventually go and study there? Should I still consider moving north when I graduate? What do I really want to do? Will I still want to do that in ten years? Do I have to go to Grad school? With limited internet connections, no advisors, and limitless time I am starting to go crazy out here. 

July 7

Here is my day written in Haiku’s:

Haiku about exercise:

I made a mistake
Tried to run on a treadmill
Seasickness did occur

Haiku about food:

I eat too often
Why are there so many treats
Destroying my body

Haiku made by Malea from my perspective, granted we don’t dance out here… or sing…

Malea and me
Like to dance by the seawater
And sing merrily

Haiku about Science:

CTD samples
pH, depth, temp, DIC
Students will get wet

July 6th Part 2:

Let me just say July 6th was a day full of discoveries. I recently realized that instead of writing about my actual day I kind of just reflected on the day before so this is what I actually did for July 6th, and let me just say it was amazing.

A couple of us got to help analyze oxygen content based on different depths of seawater and titrated about 20 or samples. The procedure was simple: get sample, add sulfuric acid, add starch indicator, and add stir bar and place on the auto titrater. Let me repeat that. Auto. Titrater. I guess that’s the difference when you “pay to science” and are “getting paid to science.” I don’t understand why this amazes me so much, but it does, so bear with me. This titrater does all the work, you can dispense slowly or quickly, and it records all the information for you, right there, on screen.

Later on in the night I started my watch, read over the dive plan, and got ready to log all the activities for ROPOS instead of just watch the water column go by. As soon as we had descended far enough into the water and prepared to move closer to target, we lost power to our bow thruster. Basically we lost power to a propeller and just started drifting slowly away from the dive target. Upon reaching the target we saw a shark, in the water, hanging out by our profiler. Without a doubt making staying up until 4:00 am worth it. I still look for whales with my underwater camera, but for now, a shark will do.

July 6th

Let me just say, seasickness is rough. Yesterday was a day completely spent in bed hoping I would finally adjust to the life at high seas. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have the worst case of it, but I’m also a complainy person in general when I’m sick. I got up late, went to bed early, and napped every free minute I could, so ultimately a day completely spent sleeping due to the constant nauseating state of my body.

The food on board is really good for “ship food.” The ship food is super good, but the sweets are even better. Let me just say the amount of junk food on board could potentially kill me. Doughnuts, cakes, brownies, cookies, and anything else I could think of are easy to come by here and are not helping me stay in shape. I know there’s a treadmill on ship, but apparently running on it is a complete nightmare because you have to be constantly aware of what is happening to avoid “death by machine.”  There is this weird head space built into the ship so that you don’t bump your head when running, although it makes the treadmill even sketchier.

Wifi is pretty decent which helps keep me connected to the world back on shore. I try to limit myself to using it for research and email only, which isn’t that hard at the present moment due to so much happening at any given time. You can always head into the control room and see what mission ROPOS is on, help someone on board out with any given task, talk with various crew members and hear their sea stories, or hang out on the deck and just look around.

Referring back to yesterday’s blog I had my first shift at watch last night. It’s four hours to log and note what ROPOS is doing during the dive operation. At midnight Malea and I started our shift and found out that we were going to have a calm watch as ROPOS was taken off ship, placed, into the water, and allowed to descend into the water column. Over the course of 4 hours, ROPOS descended around 3,000 meters, giving us nothing but water column to watch. We saw marine snow… and water…. and more marine snow… and more water. We didn’t even hit bottom by the end of our watch so the product of 4 hours time was more descending, and even more marine snow. It did give us an insane amount of time to talk with the scientists, other crew members, videographers, etc so by the end of it time had passed pretty quickly.

July 5th

As I’m writing this we have recently passed the Washington/Oregon border and are about 50 miles off the coast. So basically, no land in sight. Although the sea hasn’t been calm at times, it has been a relaxing day so far for the crew. We still have about 6 hours or so until we’re at Slope Base and deploy ROPOS to stretch and test the umbilical cord (cable). Until then, I am meeting with Orest, Brendan, and Julie to work on setting up the methods used to analyze pH and CO2. Apparently the cuvettes keep on exploding, so we’re going to try and leave a little bit of air space at the top to see if that stops the expansion as we raise the temperature.

At midnight my watch starts and lasts until 4:00AM. Not sure what I think about the time yet, but I guess I’ll have some true feelings about it tomorrow morning. Watch is used as a tool to log everything important that happens during the ROPOS dive. Generally it involves taking notes and pictures about the biology, operations, arm movements, samples taken, etc.

Even though the sea is much calmer I can feel myself start to get seasick fairly often. I would like to say today has been really successful for me, but it hasn’t. I woke up nauseas and went to bed nauseas at around 7:00PM, so my day has mostly been retreating back down to my cabin where I don’t feel the rocking and rolling of the boat as much.

July 4th

Last night was our first official night on ship even though we stayed docked at the Oceanography department until early morning. At 6:00 AM our journey officially began, headed through the Ballard locks and out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

One of our first stops was through the Ballard locks. It’s funny to see the reactions of people who wanted to know where we were going and what we were doing while we waited to “drop” into salt water. Apparently Axial Sea Mount isn’t an easily understood answer and is often followed with a more well known location “…. Newport, Oregon… to study underwater volcanoes”.  It’s a little more complicated than that, but I don’t think I even fully understand what we’re doing out there yet, so that answer suffices me as well. Our next stop before we hit open water involved test diving ROPOS (Remotely Operated Platform on Ship) out in the sound somewhere near Lynwood. They successfully tested probes, claws, tension wires, cables, and anything else associated with the submersible. Like everything out here, things often go wrong and we found that one part wasn’t working, replaced it with a spare, and kept going without any other problems for now.

We’re “steaming” up the Strait of Juan de Fuca now, and will finally be on site within 36 hours or so. I have gotten a little bit more information on my project and will be analyzing pH samples from a site or two to help see any correlation with that information and ocean acidification. 

I am already so excited for all the amazing things I will soon be accomplishing and adding to the scientific community. Oh and the food and naps are pretty excellent too.