NAAMES (North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study): NAAMES-IV Expedition: March 19, 2018March 20th, 2018 by Kristina Mojica
Adios, San Juan!
Today, we said goodbye (or rather adios) to the port of San Juan and hello/hola to the Atlantic Ocean. The past few days have been a whirlwind of unpacking, setting up our gear, securing our gear, mounting sensors, stretching cable from one end of the ship to the other, testing instruments, attending safety briefings and science meetings, meeting our fellow scientists and getting to know the crew…all while trying to fit in some exploring in Old San Juan and soaking up the Caribbean sun and sea while we can! After working for most of the day in the hot sun, carrying boxes in and out of labs and pinning sensors to the highest possible points on the ship, it was a treat to walk just a few blocks from the ship to a public beach with a protected inlet for swimming a few laps in the crystal clear ocean. As if this beach could get any more picturesque, after passing showers in the afternoon, the scene was perfectly set for a rainbow over the horizon. We oceanographers are certainly lucky when our work takes us to such stunning places.
This morning (after one last ocean swim for the dedicated masters swimmers J), we waved goodbye to the fans and helpers who came to see us off. We sailed out of the Isleta de San Juan, where R/V Atlantis has been docked for the past several days, past the old fort, and into deeper waters. Once underway, we practiced muster drills to know where to go and what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. The science team has never looked more glamorous than when we all donned our immersion suits together—30+ people getting used to the new roll of the boat, bumbling around in our gumby suits. Let’s hope someone took a picture.
With Puerto Rico fading into the background, we watched the water color change from the bright, milky turquoise (filled with the occasional reef fish or even an octopus darting under the ship last night!) of the inland lagoon to a deep azure dotted with whitecaps. As a member of the Optics Team onboard NAAMES 4, my lab mate James Allen and I are always interested in characterizing the color and brightness of the ocean to tell us more about what is in the water. When we get on station in a few days, we will use a number of different sensors to tell us about the light hitting the surface of the ocean and how that light is absorbed and scattered by water and other things as it travels to depth. We have sensors mounted on the ship to measure the light coming from the sun, and we will send other instruments down into the water to describe the concentration of phytoplankton and other particles.
We may have said farewell to the rocky reefs and white sands of San Juan, but there was a perceptible air of excitement from everyone on the ship as we finally started to move. Now, with dreams of spring blooms and calm seas (not likely, but we can dream!), we face our next adventure: the North Atlantic!
Written by Sasha Kramer