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To the Bering Sea

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA– Tuesday marks my first full day onboard the JOIDES Resolution. We are still not at sea, but it is a start. I was only off the ship today for about 30 minutes before dinner. I’ve heard that getting stir crazy is the biggest hazard of this job. At least having a private room (during off hours) will make that somewhat more tolerable.

I missed breakfast this morning. It was a deliberate choice though. At dinner last night at Vista 18 on the 18th floor of the Chateau Victoria we had a beautiful view of the JR from the nearly 360 degree windows. As the sun set we could see her light up in the distance. The School of Rockers said their goodbyes, and gave me my final send off. I decided to walk back to the JR since she looked so close at the nearby port of Ogden Point. The night air was cool, but not cold.

As the sun set we could see the JR light up in the distance.

I didn’t get back to my Stateroom until 23:00 (we use military time here, so if that confuses you subtract 12 from all hours that seem too high for you and those will be what we call PM times at home). Sleeping later seemed a good option, so I opted out of breakfast. It was not bad thing, as I was still able to have some orange juice, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a sweet roll and have plenty of time to get to the first of the days meetings.

We started off with a pretty full agenda. We met the science and technical staff today. Each one gave a short introduction and explained what they could do for us, and assured us that they were here to assist us in making the science happen. Then we went around the room and introduced ourselves to them. We have quite an impressive list of folks on board. This was interspersed with a general overview of the history of this important expedition. This project has been in the works since 1995! After finally gaining approval to begin the trip was rescheduled, truncated and now is finally going to happen. And one of the best parts is that at least 14 different countries are represented by the science staff.

Kozo Takahashi gave a presentation on some background into the research conducted in the area of the Bering Sea.

Co-Chief Scientist Kozo Takahashi gave a presentation on some background into the research conducted in the area of the Bering Sea. This area is special in that it is one of two notable marginal sea areas. Bounded by the Aleutian Islands to the south and the Bering Straight to the north, this sea was almost entirely isolated during the time periods from which we will gather and study the sediment from the ocean floor. With so little flow between its waters and the rest of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans it should hold some interesting information.

After the first round of meetings we lined up single file to have our pictures made with the ship photographer, Bill. I’d say more about him, but he certainly deserves a blog of his own. Soon we get our own ID cards and can give back the temporary cards that say “Visitor” and have the captain’s name listed as Peter Mowat. He is the outgoing captain, as most of the folks on board rotate every 2 months or so. Alex Simpson is our captain, and we get to meet him tomorrow.

Staff Scientist Carlos Alvarez-Zarikian led us on a quick paced tour of all of the lab facilities. We followed the path that newly drilled core would take and ended with a quick walk through of the recreation areas and the bridge.

The scientists broke into groups for specific lab meetings next. I decided to meet with the core processing and micropaleontology lab folks. I missed the first part of their introduction to the scopes and lab stations they will be using, but was there when they discussed the data entry program they will be using to catalogue all samples. Perhaps I’ll avoid telling them that I used to work with databases, and data warehousing? They might put me to work with the programmers!

After a quick lunch we met again to discuss life at sea and lab safety. Of course we talked about courtesy in sleeping areas, procedures for laundry and maintenance issues. We also learned about using phone cards on the ship. All phone calls out from the ship are routed through College Station in Texas, so if I use a calling card to call home, the caller ID will show a Texas number even though I may be somewhere in the north Pacific!

We learned a little about the network set up here in the JR during the “Introduction to Shipboard Computers, Servers and E-mail” session. After a bit of prepping, our personal laptops will be able to access the internet directly through the wireless network. We each will have a shipboard e-mail address, but also access to any of the internet resources we are used to at home. Although the speed is a little bit slower here, particularly at shift change when everyone is wanting call or message folks at home.

Before dinner I took a short walk to land looking for a phone card at the pier gift shop. It was closed though, so maybe tomorrow? I also found out that I need a wash rag and perhaps even an extra pillow case! But I am not sure the pillow case is worth the effort.

For those of you wondering about the food here on the JR, and who are worried that I might not get enough chicken fingers… I had sweet and sour chicken, mahi mahi, baked chicken in an interesting tomato based sauce and an incredible 5 cheese macaroni. So much for my informal goal to lose some weight on this trip. :)

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2 Responses »

  1. I am trying to reach an old Arctic shipmate of mine, Captain Mowat. Please forward this to him. Best Regards – Greg Navarre

  2. I am a student at wade hampton high school. i am doing a project on the Bering Sea. i have a couple questions about the Bering Sea, and i need a scientist opinion. i would like to know any information about the sea that you may know. please contact me back