Notes from the Field

NAAMES-IV Expedition: April 9, 2018

May 16th, 2018 by Kristina Mojica

Shifting Seas, Shifting Science

The ocean is wildly emotional,
often shifting within short periods of time.
Those emotions easily permeate into the psyche,
but they come and go.
A cloudless afternoon with gentle seas brings a soothing warmth,
an invitation for an embrace.
But the next morning brings howling winds that bites at my bones.
Following is a sea foaming at its waves, angrily lashing out,
driving me to seek some semblance of safety inside the ship.

View of the Atlantic Ocean from a window of the R/V Atlantis

In that moment, I realize that what appears to be a large steel vessel
is actually a small thimble in a vast desert expanse.
I, those around me, and those at the helm,
are all subject to the passing moods of the ocean.
All that we can do is roll with it.

This can be challenging when the ground moves beneath us,
constantly nudging us off balance,
changing the trajectory of where we were planning on going,
on what we had planned on doing.
Now here’s this.
Wise not to become too attached to plans when voyaging the high seas.

When storms brew confused currents,
best to change course before getting caught.

Though forced to retreat to waters once visited,
this tack from intention may seem less than ideal,
but new opportunities are presented.

Signatures of change can be diagnosed:
things grew,
some things grew better,
things died,
some things survived,
things ate,
some things were eaten.
things were infected,
some things escaped detection.
We’ll uncover who, how, and why.

The ocean is immense.
What’s happening here might be similar to what’s happening there,
or maybe what will take place later,
or maybe what has already taken place.
It’s hard to really know.

To piece the puzzle,
we collect hundreds of liters of water,
filter it, fix it, freeze it,
then repeat.
Again, again, and again.
This is the tedious effort that drives great strokes of progress,
as long as the ocean allows.

No matter how the ocean feels,
It’s always humbling
to see it,
to be in and on it,
to explore it,
to wonder about it.
To pay heed to its emotions is to respect it.
Only then do opportunities arise to learn from it.

Sunset over the ocean, as viewed from the deck of the R/V Atlantis.

Written by Nicholas Huynh

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