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17 July, 2002

We are waiting to arrive at our second station in the Bering Strait. We should reach there in about 15 minutes. There will be three more stations before we call it a night. It's 9:15 PM already.

I will add more information and pictures from the last few days tomorrow when I finally get my computer set up and connected. The one coast guard crewman responsible for all such questions and problems is a busy man!

Here is my actual journal for the 17th.

Today was a long and busy day. The ship finally got underway around 8:30 in the morning. Soon after, we all gathered in the science conference room for an introductory talk about safety and about the ship in general. After we all introduced ourselves, we met several of the crew who explained everything from water conservation, laundry, and trash to the all important rules for emergencies on board. After lunch, we held an abandoned ship drill where we all moved to our assigned muster station (designated place to gather) and heard what to do if the abandon ship alarm sounds. If this happens, everyone goes to a muster station where they put on a special survival suit (you can see someone trying it on in the picture below) to wear before entering the water or your life raft. A life preserver is useless in water this cold! We learned that, before you put on the suit you should always write down the latitude, longitude, water temperature and other announced information on the back of your hand and drink plenty of water because no water is issued for the first 24 hours in the lifeboat.

After lunch, everyone made final preparations for our first station. Initially I thought I would be on the traditional schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off throughout the cruise. While a few on board follow that schedule, most simply try to catch up on sleep and other work in between stations because a station may last several hours, and we can arrive at a station at any time of the day or night. We reached the first of five stations in the Bering Strait around 9:15 PM. Because the bottom is rocky, we did not do any bottom sampling. The actual sampling at all five of tonight’s stations was a “service cast.” This is when the service team goes into action. This team of scientists coordinates deployment of the equipment needed to gather water samples from various depths. They also carefully coordinate who gathers water and when once the bottles reach the surface. In the pictures below you can see the Niskin bottles used to gather water. As the rosette (ring of 12 bottles) is lowered into the water, each is triggered by computer to close and gather water at a certain depth. CTDs are computer controlled devices under the Niskin bottles. They collect information on conductivity, temperature and pressure (used to calculate depth) as the rosette descends into the water.

Once the rosette reaches the surface and is brought on board, there is a strict order for collecting samples. After the service team collects their information (ex. salinity and oxygen), each science team collects the water they need for their work. I worked with Jim Bartlett, a technician working with Dr. Lee Cooper, to collect sample for oxygen-18 analysis. We preserved the samples so they can be brought back to the University of Tennessee for analysis.

The station that started at 9:15 eventually ended around 4:30 AM. You can see why the scientists grab sleep any chance they get!

Carny Cheng, as member of the service team, volunteered to try on the survival suit, nicknamed the "Gumby suit." A member of the crew, ENS Joseph Castaneda had to help him get into it!

It's easy to see the size of the Niskin bottles in this picture. Lots of people need to draw water from them.

I collected very small bottles of water for oxygen-18 sampling. Ari Balsom is collecting large volumes of water that she will filter for POM (parcticulate organic matter). She's looking for small organims in the water.

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