Hi internet! I just spent the month of July sailing (yes! sailing!) from Honolulu to San Francisco aboard Sea Education Association’s vessel SSV Robert C. Seamans. (I went out with them last year as well). SEA’s main mission is education, and for students seeking an incredible, life-changing introduction to seafaring and ocean science I can’t recommend their programs highly enough. But you don’t have to take my word for it – check out the student blog.
This cruise, I was aboard as a visiting researcher, riding along so I could work my evil bidding on the zooplankton of North Pacific Subtropical Gyre and Subtropical Convergence Zone. I also helped sail the ship and run science operations as part of B Watch, and did my best to indoctrinate the students into the glories of the planktonic universe. We caught some top-notch critters – including something very special that I will blog about very soon. (Hint: Not a kraken.) Other excellent biology: a huge hyperiid amphipod swarm over a hundred miles across, the raptorial copepod Euchaeta (a giant copepod that shreds other copepods with giant spiked appendages) , delicious mahi-mahi and albacore tuna, and of course a pod of bowriding common dolphins. To tide you over, here’s a photo taken on this cruise of one of my very favorite copepods, Sappharina spp. So pretty! The males have iridescent displays to attract the ladies.
I also made a very important discovery. Non-denatured ethanol, which is used to preserve organisms for genetic work, often comes in huge 20-gallon drums. These particular drums were helpfully labeled – see the wording to the upper right of the large red Flammable Liquid diamond. Make sure not to drink scientific-grade non-denatured ethanol on Pesach, fellow Jews! Note: Even if alcohol were not strictly banned on board US research vessels, which it is, 95% ethanol is NOT for consumption! Besides, your plankton needs it more than you.
Other non-science perks of this particular voyage: reading Hamlet underneath a rainbow while anchored off O’ahu (See top photo. HOLY CRAP THIS IS MY JOB! Well, not the Hamlet part), truly amazing food including fresh homemade bagels, singing a lot of shanties, and of course wearing my Deep Sea News Hat while sitting on top of the foremast.