Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS): The Commute to WorkOctober 19th, 2017 by Eric Lindstrom
Going to sea slows one down from the hectic sprint of modern city life and car travel. We travel slowly (~12 mph) over the vast Pacific Ocean. It is a five-day journey to get to our “office” in the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The “work day” will change from 8 hours per day to 24 hours per day. There are no weekdays and weekends, only workdays and off-hours. As your blogger, I look into all the projects aboard ship and fill my day with writing, photographing action, and fact-finding for my reporting. I aim to provide a new blog four days-per-week (Tuesday-Friday). If needed I serve on a shift where extra hands are required.
A highlight of our departure from San Diego was being greeted by a large pod of small toothed-whales (porpoise/dolphin family). They seemed as curious of the ship as we were curious of them. We had slowed the ship as we passed the Coronado Island group (off northern Baja, Mexico) to deploy a 42-foot boom off the starboard bow. This is the support structure for Julian Schanze’s “salinity snake” that provides a “clean” intake of surface water outside the wake of the ship. I imagine the whales had never seen such an operation before!
The first two days at sea have been calm and sunny. This has been great for the newbies to get their sea legs. As far as I know no one has suffered severe sea sickness.
In the midst of our five-day commute we stop or slow down for training on occasion. Everyone needs to learn or refresh their knowledge on how instruments are deployed from the ship and safely recovered. This is the time to make sure all gear and personnel are ready for action. I will tell you more about the instruments and projects over the next month. Shipboard life is best when everyone is busy and every project is assisted to full success. During these initial days at sea there is much “cross-training,” you come to sea for one project, but you immediately train to assist on other projects.
As we move slowly south to the tropics we also have some small assignments to accomplish on behalf of the oceanographic community. We will deploy some Argo floats along the 125W meridian. These temperature and salinity profiling devices join a global array of nearly 4000 floats that monitor the upper 2000m of the ocean.
We know our 24/7 work begins when we reach 11N, 125W and begin the process of recovering the NOAA mooring that has been there for the last 13 months. There are three moorings in the SPURS-2 array and all will be recovered on this voyage. Generally, these moorings become teeming islands of life in the open ocean environment, attracting their own ecosystem of fish. So, fishing gear will also be at the ready and we can expect tuna and mahi-mahi for dinner the day of a mooring recovery.
Finally, it looks like there will be some Halloween celebration aboard R/V Revelle. The Captain has brought pumpkins for a carving contest. I hear that some people have costumes at the ready. I am sure some unique nautical and oceanographic twists can be brought to Halloween. We shall see. Never underestimate the imagination of people confined to a ship for five weeks!