Stefani Martynenko Blog Leg 3

A screen shot of a ROPOS monitor as the vehicle was imaging a sculpin on a dive at Axial Seamount Credit: S. Martynenko, University of Washington, V22.

September 3:

Today is the last full day on the Thompson and I have mixed feelings about it. Yes, I do miss my folks down home but it has been such joy to be here. This blue water all around me with no horizons will be something I will want to go back.

Yesterday, when it was pitch black, we went up to the bow, lay on the floor and watched the stars. You could see the Milky Way! It was absolutely beautiful. These are the types of moments that live in your memory for a long time.

Also, yesterday, I worked on my project, made a few scans and did my presentation. Fun times!

There was a bird that got covered in oil and couldn’t fly, so one of the crew members washed her off and we were waiting for her to dry. It was cold and so it snuggled

There are a few things I miss. Reading on the bow or listening to ukulele being played by one of the crew members. I will miss people, some of them will live in my heart long after I am off this ship. Their determination and genuine care for people has set an example for me to follow. I wish them all the best!

I will miss the fog and the mist. I will miss falling asleep on my bunk with the motion of the waves. The whales and the dolphins. And surprisingly enough, the cleaning of the instruments after they are lifted up from the ocean floor.

In a couple of days I will go back to my previous life but luckily, after a new experience, a person can never go back to his old dimensions.


September 1:

Today, I saw a whale. As I was walking to go to the bow, I saw a spray of water in the distance. Sprays appeared and reappeared for the following 30 minutes. To get a closer look, I went to the bridge to borrow binoculars and from there it looked like a Humpback whale.

I also am finally getting to see the hydrothermal vents. They are as beautiful in real life as they are in pictures. Lots of plumes coming out and black smoke. Also, I didn’t know that blobfish inhabit these areas but I have seen a lot of them on these dives.

One of my favorite parts about this trip was getting to know the crew. A lot of them are great people and I have gained a lot of respect for them. They do not have regular lives but rather intriguing and special.

Food here is at another level. Restaurant level food. High praises to the cooks. We have crab, octopus, lamb, pies, cakes, you name it. I am beyond impressed!

August 29:

This morning there was such a beautiful passage. Thick fog surrounded our ship and the water was smooth and calm. Definitely something I’ll keep in my memory.

Today I was able to take water samples from the ROV niskins to check if the CTD at depth 2599 meters is working properly. It was fun to climb a ladder to collect samples for oxygen, chlorophyll, and salinity.

I am excited to see if numbers we get after analyzing the water will match the ones from the CTD at 2599 depth.

I also did chlorophyll titrations. To do them, one needs to pour 500 ml of niskin water collected at various depths into a filtration flask. Then one needs to take out the filter and put it into acetone. There are still steps to follow but the end result is that you will know the concentration of organisms at different depths.

To stay active some students and I are trying to play pingpong on a table where there is a puzzle. It has not been easy but what can you do if you love the game?

August 26:

A shark swims by the ROV. S. Martynenko, University of Washington, V22.

Highlight of the day: seeing about a dozen Dolphins swim overboard.

My body has been attempting to adjust to this new environment stably. No major problems with seasickness, nor with the interrupted sleep schedule.

One of the most exciting stops of the ship is definitely the Hydro lab where the ROPOS operation center is locate and where we students do our shifts.

The ROV control room showing the pilot area and logging stations. S. Martynenko, University of Washington, V22.

Inside, there is a control panel, 9 camera screens, a navigation screen, a sonar screen, a pilot GUI (graphic user interface) screen, and several more.

When I am in this room during my shift, it seems like I’ve just entered a scene from “searching for Titanic”. Definitely a spot to experience goosebumps emotions. During ROV deployment, besides others, I have already witnessed near a dozen sharks, a skate, and what seemed to be like a football sized red squid.

After being sometime on this ship, I also realize that the crew and scientists do not have 8-hour work shifts. They do their job no matter what time of the day it is. They do not follow the schedule that the sun sets for them. Very few professionals in the world have this kind of a lifestyle.

Even though I have 4-hour shifts followed by 8 hours of free time a day, for the past few days I have been sleeping in 2-hour intervals.

August 25:

On one of the upper decks of the Thompson.

Today, I had a dream. During my dream, for no particular reason I drove back home from Newport down to Seattle. I then realized that based on the given schedule, Thompson was already suppose to have departed, but I was still down in Seattle. I started crying and panicking. I remember thinking “I hope this is a dream.” How could I have lost such an opportunity? Why did I drive back? Then I get a text message saying that due to bad weather conditions the ship is still in port. I rush to the car to again drive down to Newport, hoping to get on the ship in time of departure. Suddenly, I wake up to a loud speaker announcing what I believe was a refueling operation starting on the Thompson. Pheww! What a relief! That’s how I started my day.

The galley onboard the R/V Thompson. S. Martynenko, University of Washington, V22.

There’s still a lot of spots I want to explore, however, my favorite spot of the ship, up to this day at least, is probably the far left table in the cafeteria. I like the cups that hang on the wall and looking at the crew walking in and out. The constant presence of butter on the table also adds a certain charm to this room.

I have shifts from 12 to 4. I am excited for them. I’ll get to do CTD deployments. Hope, I get the hang of it fast.

Overall Present Current State of Mind: It’s hard to take everything in but I am trying.