State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

The Transit Home

The sun sets over the calm waters above the East Pacific Rise. We saw many such settings of the sun that were just as beautiful as this one. (Photo by Wanda Vargas)
The sun sets over the calm waters above the East Pacific Rise. We saw many such settings of the sun that were just as beautiful as this one. (Photo by Wanda Vargas)

We are in the midst of a four-day transit from our study site on the East Pacific Rise to the Atlantis’ next port of call in Costa Rica. All of the scientists aboard will depart for home from there, while many of the crew will stay on for another leg of the cruise. The transit thus far has been long and boring and slightly rough, but such transits give us plenty of time to write cruise reports, pack up our gear, and get ready for the next stage of our journey home.

There is also time to reflect on the past few days and weeks of work, which by and large have gone well (and have been anything but boring). Scott accomplished all of his scientific goals with his pressure measurements, Monika collected copious biological samples that will keep her group busy for some time, and as you know if you’ve been following along, the VentCam worked better than we could have hoped. Sometimes cruises do not go this well, so we have been sure to be thankful for our good fortunes. We are also indebted to the captain and crew of the Atlantis, and all the members of the Alvin group. Each of them deserves enormous credit for taking us safely to sea and helping us accomplish our scientific goals. Obviously we couldn’t have done it without them.

R/V Atlantis Wiper Leroy Walcott climbs out of the sub hoisting the flag of Barbados, which fittingly features a prominent trident symbol. Leroy is the first Barbadian to dive in Alvin. (Photo by Wanda Vargas)
R/V Atlantis Wiper Leroy Walcott climbs out of the sub hoisting the flag of Barbados, which fittingly features a prominent trident symbol. Leroy is the first Barbadian to dive in Alvin. (Photo by Wanda Vargas)

On a related note, one highlight worth mentioning occurred on the last dive of the cruise. A few days ago Scott held a drawing to give away the starboard observer position on the final dive — normally reserved for a scientist — to a member of the ship’s crew. The contest was open to any crew member who had not yet had a dive in Alvin. Most of the crew qualified for this contest, because the science party rarely has a slot available to give. Scott drew lots from a bag and the winner of the free trip to the bottom of the ocean was wiper Leroy Walcott from the engine department. He seemed more than enthused about the opportunity and word has it that he had a spectacular dive. He was also quite proud to be the first person from his home country of Barbados to dive in Alvin.

It has been an enjoyable and productive cruise that none of us will soon forget. But life on a research vessel can be difficult, and being away from friends and family is not always easy. So even though the forecast for New York has temperatures below freezing in the coming days, I am actually looking forward to being back home! See you all back in the cold cold city.

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