Notes from the Field

NAAMES-IV Expedition: April 8, 2018

May 16th, 2018 by Kristina Mojica


As we are transiting back to Woods Hole, a calm and fresh atmosphere can be felt in the mood of the ship’s life. People start asking all sorts of questions about the first thing you will do on land, as a nostalgic reflection of the things that we miss. We have left behind the rush of the intense science days and a space for contemplation and thinking opens. Although some of us keep sampling during the transect, this is the time to read the books that were carefully selected before the cruise while we enjoy surfing the waves and sunlight.  Calm in the labs can be suddenly disrupted by a “pilot whales on starboard side” shout, followed by a stampede of eager scientists carrying their cameras running towards the ship’s bow. Most of the times it’s difficult to spot them in the vast oceanic blue and the only shot that we have is that of a big wave splashing the ship’s front, which is awesome by itself (no complaints).

This free time led me to write on this blog about a frequent question asked by family and friends; what do you do in your spare time aboard? Unless you have been in a research vessel as the Atlantis, it’s difficult to have a picture of what it means living at sea. Each shipmate has it’s own way to spend free time, so I will write about some of the most popular activities.

TV room and library: dynamics in the TV room are quite intriguing during the day. You can see sporadically one or two shipmates hanging around without paying attention to the TV. During lunch and dinner this room gets crowded and people enjoy their meal while watching a movie. Both spaces are famous due to the presence of the popular “blue comfy seats”.  Blue comfy seats are present also in the library and have become a highly demanded luxury during science meetings. People even start occupying them as long as 20 minutes before our daily gathering, reminding me those concerts where you got early to get the best spot.  Most of the time, library is occupied for working, reading, and napping.

Board games in the mess: this is other popular activity that takes place usually after dinner and sunset. Some games can go very late.

Launching meteorological balloons: yes, this is a very fun activity. During good weather you can collaborate launching balloons from the O2 deck. This activity has become a highly competitive sport during this campaign and rumors say that even chocolate and chips are being bet to the balloon that reaches the highest altitude. Participants require a set of skills involving grace, wind control, strength, and lots of luck.

Reading: as mentioned before, reading is one of the most popular pastimes in the cruise. During sunny days, you can see people sitting in the aft deck enjoying the sunshine and their favorite books. Naps and reading have had a huge improvement this year due to the presence of the most comfortable beanbag.

Caitlin, Bryce, Eric and Ali enjoying a morning reading.
Notice how books can have a double function.

Watching sea creatures (from micro to macro): this activity includes all sizes of creatures. We can spend hours watching the pictures of microorganisms retrieved from the Inline Flow Cytobot. As you can imagine, we always are paying attention to the ocean and trying to spot whales, dolphins, birds and any other creature that decides to show up and say hi to us.

Sunset and sunrise: most of our lives aboard are determined by meals and sun cycle. Sunrise and sunsets are simply amazing. Watched from the middle of the ocean, there’s always a new beautiful picture to take. Even more, some kind of ritual has been established.  I had never heard so many times “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion.

Writing this, I realized how lively NAAMES has been and how lucky I’m for having the opportunity to share the passion for science and ocean with an awesome group of people. As the last NAAMES field campaign is coming to an end, I can only thank the Atlantis research vessel crew, the science team, and the people in charge of logistics for making of NAAMES a wonderful, successful and enriching experience.

Written by Luis M. Bolaños

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