Claire Decoys’ Blog

Aug 26, 2017

There are so many foods that I’ve been missing while I’ve been aboard. Well, really foods that I’ve been missing the whole summer. After being in the desert for so long, then turning around and jumping on the Revelle, I feel like I’ve been deprived of so much delicious food. That isn’t to say that the cooking hasn’t been good– the food aboard is actually very delicious; fresh salmon with lemon, chicken curry, thanksgiving-style turkey dinners.  Sadly, I’ve had to forego most of the food on board due to seasickness. I’ve really just been surviving on grapes and rice. In particular, I am missing Asian food. Chow mein, ramen, phad thai, dumplings, tempura, sushi, chicken in spicy and sour sauces and giant bowls of noodles. This evening the students and I are presenting our minor projects to each other, but I’m busy daydreaming about getting home and being able to feast on all of the food that I’ve been missing.

Aug 25, 2017

Much to my disappointment, we did not put Jason into the water last night. Instead, we towed two large nets behind the Revelle with the purpose of gathering up the plankton that live in the water. The huge nets brought back three large buckets worth of planktonic organisms, which we separated into small jars. Along with the plankton, formaldehyde was poured into the jars to preserve the organisms inside so that they may be analyzed under a microscope later after the cruise has concluded. Of the many millions of organisms in each jar, we recognized two of the most numerous species; tiny shrimp-like krill, and gelatinous comb jellies. The buckets were so thick with the pink krill, which formed large clumps in my strainer as I attempted to remove some of the extra seawater. They were so numerous that I can understand how whales survive on them. Meanwhile, the comb jellies were completely invisible while they were in the bucket with the water, but manifested as grape-sized orbs when dry. They had the texture of tapioca balls, reminding us of bubble tea.

Aug 24, 2017

The other students and myself are excited to be creating our own projects to show off some of the work done here on the Revelle! Some students are creating informational videos or scheduling interviews with the crew. As for myself, I intend to compare water column temperature readings collected over several years to gain insight on how the ocean temperature has changed. Today, we learned how to gather the correct data necessary for projects like these from the Ocean Observatories Initiative website. For the rest of today and tomorrow, I plan to extract the proper data from the OOI website, though this is certainly a project that will take many hours to complete even after we are off of the Revelle. Tonight I will once again have the opportunity to be in ROV Jason’s control room. If I see something interesting while we are out, I will be sure to post it here.

Aug 23, 2017

Ginger candy, ginger beer, pickled ginger, ginger tea, ginger bread cookies. If you are what you eat, then I’m probably about to grow flaming red hair. Imagine that you’ve been rocked to sleep for the past four nights and days, but instead of being rocked like a baby all cozy in your mother’s arms, it’s more like an uncomfortable amusement park ride, like spinning on teacups or the big pirate ship that swings back and forth, and you’ve just crammed your face full of cotton candy and chili dogs and you can’t wait for the ride to be over, because you definitely have to vomit and you don’t want to do it all over these people strapped into the ride with you, except when you ask for it to stop the weird carnie at the controls just laughs and pulls the lever, and the ride picks up speed, and the rocking gets more intense. This is your life now.

Other than the seasickness, I am definitely enjoying my time aboard the Revelle. Yesterday I assisted in processing samples of gas and seawater that were retrieved from one of the several hydrothermal vents in the area. The probe consisted of 47 collection bottles attached by leakproof tubes to a large metal head which centered over the top of the spewing hydrothermal vent. Once centered, the collection bottles are filled with the surrounding fluids, then brought back up to the surface. As the device makes its way to the surface, the gasses inside the bottles are no longer crushed by the tremendous pressure, and they begin to expand. By the time the device has been pulled aboard the Revelle, some of the bottles are close to bursting. My job was to attach overflow bags onto the collection bottles, to give the gas a larger container to decompress in without exposing it to the atmosphere inside the ship. After all the bottles had been secured, we placed them onto a scale to determine the mass of the fluid that was collected. Later, the gas and seawater will be analyzed to see what it is made of. Simply judging by the smell, we know one thing for sure; the gas definitely contains a plenty of Sulphur to go around.

Aug 22, 2017

Last night I had the privilege to assist in operating ROV Jason for the beginning four hours of its thirteen-hour dive operation. During the time I spent in the van, Jason delivered new instruments and equipment to the seafloor while also preparing to return old equipment to the surface to be refurbished. For the first hour we sat and watched as Jason made the hour-long descent to the seafloor. Along the way we saw a surprising number of sea creatures – mostly jellies and the occasional fish. Upon our arrival at the bottom, we found ourselves face to face with a large, slow-moving ratfish, which kept a close eye on Jason for the duration of my time in the van. Our movement along the bottom of the seafloor kicked up a large amount of sediment, which obscured our vision and created a soupy orange haze over the seascape. The debris floating through the water reminded us of something out of a science fiction movie, like the colorful dust particles that crowd around distant galaxies. Perhaps outer space and the deep sea are not too different after all.

Aug 20-21, 2017

My first day aboard the Roger Revelle was beautiful – being able to see the sunset over the bridge in Newport while hearing the sea lions barking is something I will probably never forget. Before we shoved off, I had the privilege of walking along the beach near NOAA’s facility, and up to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Outside the aquarium was a small landscaped area filled with only native plants, which in turn attracted native wildlife. In the late evening, the sound of birdsong was almost deafening, and yet comforting at the same time. As our second night at sea approaches, I find myself missing the sound of the birds, meanwhile I tire quickly of the ocean view. While the breaking waves are beautiful, I wish there was something more to look at – perhaps a seagull or a school of fish. This afternoon I woke up from a nap to what I thought was the chirping of a bird, but it simply turned out to be a door creaking on its hinges down the hall. It is a simple sound with a simple explanation, but I take comfort in believing that it is the birdsong I miss so much already.

This morning was the eclipse, and while there was too much cloud cover to properly see it, we were still able to experience the sudden total darkness that came with it. I am disappointed that we were not closer to shore when it happened – I have heard that during totality the birds stop chirping and insects will quite literally fall out of the sky, only to be found asleep on the ground. Out here, there was no birdsong to compare to, just the endless sound of the Revelle slicing through the waves.