Lauren Schmahl

Jason beginning its launch for a deep dive at the base of Axial Seamount. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington; V19

June 17, 2019

It’s crazy to believe that today is day six on the boat, meaning the cruise is almost over. We only have a few Jason dives left before we head back to shore. Today was also the only full dive that took place during my shift. We went all the way to the ocean floor, over 2,000 meters deep. The descent alone took 2.5 hours. On the way down we looked for different fish and other sea creatures like jellyfish or squid. There were three squid today. One of them was swimming around on top of Jason. After that squid swam away there was another one holding onto the bars where the gauges for Jason are.  Right after that squid was gone, a third squid swam right in front of Jason and inked. There were a few smaller jellyfish that swam past and even bounced off of Jason, but one large pink/red jellyfish swam right in front of the camera.

A rattail fish swimming near the Axial Base junction boxes during a CTD deployment. Photo credit: UW/NSF-OOI/WHOI; V19

The ocean floor is covered in brittle stars. The brittle stars are thin and white, they mostly stay in one spot, but sometime they crawl across the seafloor.  At one point during the dive, a strange worm-like creature swam past the camera. There was also a strange looking fish called a rattail.

During our student meeting, Mike Vardaro gave a talk about deep- sea biology. Many of the animals that we saw during his presentation live in the deep ocean and looked otherworldly. It’s crazy to think about how little we know about our oceans and how much more there is to study.

June 15, 2019:

A beautiful full moon lights up the sky. Credit: Lauren Schmahl. Queens College; V19

Last night began our 16-hour transit to Axial Base. This meant that we were in transit for my shift. That also meant I didn’t have to be up at 1 am. I still ended waking up before breakfast. Breakfast on the boat is always good. Today was egg and cheese on a English muffin, bacon, potato hash, pancakes, oatmeal and fruit.  

After breakfast, Jason begin a 10-hour dive to the sea floor. It took more than two hours to reach the seafloor. I sat in the Jason van to watch what was happening. It’s cool seeing all the different jellyfish.

Once at the bottom the pilot of Jason begin to replace the cables that give power to the mooring. There were only a few fish I saw before I went to lunch. After lunch we had a tour of the engine room. The engine room is so loud. It was interesting to learn how the boat works. We got to see where the water we drink is made. There are a lot of things happening on the boat that we don’t think about.  After a movie I called it a night, having to make sure I’m up for my 1 am shift.

June 14, 2019:

Jason comes onto the Atlantis with a turned extension cable. Credit. M.Elend, University of Washington, V19.

My first shift was amazing. I woke up feeling better then I did the day before and when to the main lab. When I got to the main lab, no one was there but I could see on the live stream that Jason was in the water, so I went to the Jason van and found everyone there. Hill (a fellow student) showed me how to log on the video station. I was nervous at first but Wendy was there to make sure everything I did was right. Not soon after I began logging Jason was ready to come out of the water.  I look pictures of the crew taking Jason out of the water than we begin out two-hour transit to Slope Base.





Lauren and Orest sample water from the Niskin bottles. Credit: K. Bighman, University of Washington, V19.

I went outside on the deck to help with my seasickness. When we were close to the next site we begin setting up the CTD. We had to start by unclipping the bottles and putting the bottle in the open position. We set up the slack lines and then waited for the ship to be on site. Once the Atlantis arrived on station, we put the CTD in the water. Once in the lab I was able to use the winch that moved the CTD through the water. We had to go and retrieve the CTD from the water and place it back on the boat. I had a long stick with a hook on it and I leaned over the side of the boat to hook the CTD. I was able to hook a pole on my first try. Once the CTD was back on deck I helped take samples of the water collected by the CTD. It took a few practice runs to get the oxygen sampling right. Then I had to go to the Jason van to begin logging. Just as Jason hit the water my shift was over. It was a good start to my visions cruise 


June 13:

Today we depart. Although I fell sick, I’m excited to start the cruise. We did an abandon ship drill, which is always fun. The abandon ship drill is when they sound the alarm, 7 short alarms flowed by one long alarm. You must take your life jacket and survival suit up to the main lab.

Safety Drill, Day 1, Leg 2 Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington; V19

This would have been more fun if I didn’t feel sick. After we met in the main lab we are assigned a side of the boat that we go to for a life raft in case we really are abandoning the ship. Some of the other students who haven’t tried on a survival suit had to try it on, which was fun. In transit to our first location I was too sick to do much. I felt really sick and had to lay down, so I just laid in my bunk until my 1 am shift started. Hopefully I feel better in the morning.