Archived Cruises

The information on this site is from the July 2011 Chief Scientist Training Workshop.  If you are looking for information on the current Chief Scientist Training Workshop please visit

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Job Done!


Now that we are heading home (whew) as co-chiefs we’d like to add a few words to express our gratitude and appreciation to all the PIs. The cruise and the training course have both been a success thanks to everyone, GREAT TEAM WORK!

Alyson, thanks for the water budget and  your sensible nature.

Amy thanks for putting together the event sheets and paying attention to details.

Kim …. what a trooper… always in the trenches and willing to lend a hand with a smile :)

Russ, with the alien salute and the wavering down the corridors in a half woken state.

Chandra ….. Did you get enough cores? Hope your samples are plentiful now that you are a plankton tow expert.

Chris, hope you get some sleep on land… You worked endlessly and stepped in wherever it was needed. Keep singing…. and yes a small dog is very macho.

Aaron (note the spelling :) ). Thanks for putting together a terrific blog and for volunteering to take care of all our meta data (did we forget to mention that ?). You taste tested about every species we found out there and brought many back to share what amazing critters they are.

Yuehan thanks for being so easy going with every new plan and adapting so well. Always willing to lend a hand.

Shellie, deep sea cup decorator extraordinaire. Thanks for your easy going ways.

Lindsey to you and your pump!!! You kept us all going at tempo.

Sarah, We’ll say it again… adorable, kind positive energy! Good luck with your aerosols and all that they bring. Thanks for letting us share in your science and ride the zodiac.

Dan, quiet with a sly smile. Thanks for sharing the worlds of boundary layers and exopolymers with us as well as training us on the “glass plate method”.

Daryl, You are extraordinary…. that’s it in a nutshell! Meaghan we are glad you could make it and that we got to know you. Hope we see you on future UNOLS cruises. Thank you to the captain and crew for a smooth ride and for your capable management of the RV Wecoma.

Lastly, Clare and Pat. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to mentor us. We greatly appreciate the opportunity you created and memories made. We hope this becomes a regular event for future UNOLS chiefs to come.








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Station 2? Station 2!!

It’s only Wednesday, and we’ve just finished our second-to-last station (remember, we’re counting down from 14). It’s a testament to the skill of captain and crew that all our work goes so smoothly: the RHIB goes in and out of the water like a hot knife in butter, our cantankerous CTD is kept in check by Daryl’s firm hand, Meghan ties left-hand bowlines on corer taglines in 1.3 seconds, and first mate Jeff keeps the boat in position on station with the same relaxed casualness you might demonstrate while parallel parking (I’m convinced he wouldn’t even tap them, if a couple Honda Civics were parked on either side of the ship).

The only problem with working so efficiently is that the end comes sooner. It’s gratifying that we’re successful, but it’s also been quite fun (and educational, of course). Have a look at the pictures below, and I’m sure you’ll experience the same thrill that we all did.

Styrofoam cups before deep-sea trip. (Note that these are 22-ounce cups, not your standard 12-ounce baby cups.) The hard hat is there for perspective.

(Photo: L. Koren)

Styro cups after vacationing briefly at 2900 meters (almost 2 miles underwater!)…and yes, that’s the same hard hat.



The animal life has been picking up lately as well. A few humpback whales have been hanging out off Station 2 for the several hours we’ve been here. Even chemists can appreciate the sighting. (Photos: C. Hintz)

There’re also a lot of birds winging around the ship. Gulls are somehow less obnoxious when you’re at sea.

(Photos: C. Hintz)




Thrilling, right?

Underway to our last station…shallow water, Heceta Bank. It’ll be bittersweet.

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Just a quick nap…

Dr. Hintz waiting for the CTD. Photo by K. Null

As we steam ahead and power through our stations collecting as many samples as possible, the long days and interrupted sleep start to take a toll. You might find a scientist taking a catnap waiting for the CTD or corer.

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Fighting the deep cast ennui…

We’re speeding through stations at breakneck speed (successfully, of course), exceeding all initial expectations. It’s only Tuesday, and we’re already at station 4 (counting down from 14). This is a deep station, and it takes ages to send the CTD to 2900 meters. We typically do three casts at each deep station: one each deep and shallow casts that collect water on the way up (shared by many scientists), and one deep cast exclusively for Kim Null. She’s analyzing radium at vanishingly low concentrations, so she needs extra water from the bottom (100 L or more!). Each deep cast takes about 2-3 hours round-trip, leaving plenty of time for other activities such as writing scientific papers, discussing future research proposals, or working through old data.

Or, more likely, we find mildly amusing diversions to fend off the mind-numbing experience of watching a 2900 m salinity profile appear on the monitor at a rate of 60 meters per minute. The commonest such activity at deep stations is decorating styrofoam objects (cups, mannequin heads, spectrophotometer cuvette boxes, etc.) to send down with the next cast. The extreme pressure at the seafloor compresses the styrofoam into comically reduced and misshapen forms. The result is always approximately the same, but for some reason we’re unfailingly excited about it. Scientists are easily entertained.


Yuehan Lu (L) and Chandranath Basak (R) prepare their cups for the descent. Note the focus, pride, and perhaps not evident in this picture, the permeating sense of exultant anticipation.

(Photo: A. Beck)


We also get excited when large sea creatures appear at the ocean surface and enliven the unchanging blue-green panorama. The shark below followed the CTD to the surface, made a few inspection loops around Wecoma, and disappeared.


There’s biology in them waters!

(Photo: L. Koren)





We’ll report soon on the status of our styrofoam deep-sea divers. The CTD is at the surface, and we’re too excited to keep blogging now.

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Sampling success; waffles

Today started early with another exciting CTD cast.  In keeping with our mission to learn about troubleshooting research cruises as chief scientists, we had a few trivial problems with our early cast this morning. Thanks to our supertechs, we were back up and running in no time at all!

After that, we breakfasted heartily on waffles (in a word, magical), fruit, and bacon.  And, of course, coffee.

The rest of the day was picture-perfect, weather- and science ops-wise. As we speak, we are speeding towards station 5! Time flies when you’re training to be a chief scientist! Another late night ahead, but spirits are high.

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Back to the coast

We are minutes away from the innermost station on our second transect and are back in sight of the coast. The winds have relaxed and the water has been glassy over the last few days. They tell us the Oregon shelf isn’t always like this . . .

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CTD back in service; what else is going on?

After successful efforts by the unstoppable Daryl, our CTD is back online. It’s a good thing, as hydrocasts are the backbone of our sampling efforts. We’re dropping a 12-Niskin-bottle rosette to the seafloor, collecting various ancillary data (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll fluorescence, transmissivity, and photosynthetically-active radiation) on the way down, and filling the bottles with water samples on the way back to the surface.

Deploying the rosette. Lindsey Koren sends the rosette out of the CTD bay and on its way to collect samples.

(Photo: C. Reimers)


Everyone crowds around the monitors to watch data coming from sensors on the CTD. Water sample collection depths are determined by depth profiles of parameters such as dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll.

Clockwise from left: Alyson Santoro, Kim Null, marine tech Meghan, Pat Wheeler, Lindsey Koren, marine tech Daryl, and Amy Townsend-Small. (Photo: C. Reimers)



Retrieving the CTD. The rosette is being brought back on deck, full of water samples, by Penny Vlahos and marine tech Meghan. (Photo: C. Hintz)





Successful sediment cores (on the hydraulic extruder at left) make everyone happy. From left: marine tech Daryl, Chandranath Basak, marine tech Meghan, and Russell Carvahlo. (Photo: C. Reimers)



We send the zodiac out occasionally to collect sea surface microlayer samples (using glass plates) and uncontaminated trace metal samples. The wake from Wecoma destroys the microlayer, and of course, it’s easy to get metal contamination if you sample near the metal ship. From left: Aaron Beck, Dan Thornton, co-chief scientist Joaquin Martinez-Martinez, and mate Jeff C.

(Photo: C. Hintz)



Foraminifera (calcareous protists) are collected by towing a plankton net. Here, collected plankton are being rinsed into the collection vessel held by Yuehan. From left: Aaron Beck, Chandranath Basak, marine tech Daryl, and Yuehan Lu.

(Photo: C. Reimers)


That’s it in a nutshell! We’ll be adding more photos to a gallery soon, and writing more thrilling updates about life and science on R/V Wecoma.

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CTD on hiatus?

Breaking news: we have lost communication with our CTD.  The CTD is an instrument package that measures Conductivity [similar to salinity], Temperature, and Depth.  It is usually associated with a series of special water sampling bottles that can be triggered to take samples from the ship, at the salinity/temperature/etc. of interest.  The instrument package is run through a computer on the deck that is operated by scientists.  It has been working super smoothly throughout the entire cruise, but suddenly tonight, we lost communication with it!  We quickly brought it back on deck and our wonderful marine technician, Darryl, is troubleshooting.  Stay tuned!  Sarah estimates the instrument will be working in about 15 minutes.

In other news, tonight’s dinner was the best one yet!  Lasagna, ceasar salad, and blackberry pie a la mode.  Thanks, Doug and John!

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Ahead of schedule

Sea conditions are ideal today and the work proceeds ahead of schedule. Not bad for first-time chief scientists! Fun are RHIB operations to collect the sea-surface microlayer with glass plates. It takes about 200 dips of the plates per sample. There are many volunteers to help.

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