2013 Endeavor Cruise #1: EN527

New Faces in New Places

Drake Lee-Patterson is a second year undergraduate student at The Georgia Institute of Technology working in Joseph P. Montoya's lab. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA.

It's now seven days into EN528 and all of us, save a beautiful little squid named Squidley who we found trapped in our CTD, are still alive and well. The sea has been smooth and the sky has been clear as we've been pushing our way through many CTD, VPR, MOCNESS, Sediment Trap, and Multicorer drops. Yesterday marked our last day in the Orca Basin (Station 26), where we'd had an astounding forty drops between all our sampling teams. With its turbidity layers and its oily bottom, it was a fun area to be sampling from even without the visits of dolphins, sperm whales, and yellow-finned mahi.

Nevertheless, it's high time we moved on. We are now at Station 27 (GC415) and things are running as usual after a turkey dinner.

As I have not been posting as much as I'd've liked, I will now finally introduce the newest faces to our science crew and some of the things they've learned thus far on EN528:

Rick Peterson - Coastal Carolina University
"Never understimate the importance of a hard hat."

Tracy Villareal - The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute
"It takes a lot of oil to see an effect on trichodesmium."

Erich Gruebel - University of Rhode Island
"When you take cores from cottage cheese mud, it's going to take a couple tries."
"Things will always break at the most inconvenient time."
"Go easy on the bread."

Andy Juhl - Columbia University
"The Orca Basin was really cool...seeing everyone watch with the expectation of discovery."

Xana Hermosillo - The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute
"It's nice to find a secret spot on deck for alone time...and the ice cream fridge."

Emery Register - The University of Georgia
Emery did not provide a quote, but instead nodded knowingly, suggesting his vast wisdom.

Sara Kerner - Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
"Bring old clothes because they're going to get ruined."

Kelsey Rogers - Florida State University
"Sleep and good food are important."

Be on the lookout for more from the EN528 gang.

Another Day, Another Blogger

Drake Lee-Patterson is a second year undergraduate student at The Georgia Institute of Technology working in Joseph P. Montoya's lab. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA.

As the ship is now rushing out from Gulf Port, MS, I thought it would be a fine time to make my very first ecogig blog post. To experienced followers, the tales of the crew and the scientists have been dictated skillfully and lovingly by Ms. Stella but now, for at least the length of this second leg, you are stuck with me. I hope that I am even somewhat able to fill the surprisingly big shoes for Stella's tiny feet.

We've just finished up with our first lab meeting and now the new recruits are getting to watch the incredibly riveting instructional video. Soon, Steve will give us all a wondrous lunch and we'll wait for the first launch of the CTD Rosette scheduled for 20:00 hours.

Stay tuned for more fun tales to follow. If you'd like to track our progress as we head towards the Whiting Dome, feel free to watch the tracker that my, and several other, parents have already discovered: http://techserv.gso.uri.edu/EndeavorNow.asp.

Happy sails.

Wrapping up

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

One of the most important things I saw on this cruise that reinforced my way of thinking is the importance of teaching our students to think critically.  When you are on a research vessel surrounded by people that are constantly making decisions about the way they are collecting their data or analyzing it, how they can create or improve a piece of equipment, and so many other problems they encounter, it is necessary to think critically.  I know the great majority of my students won’t be in this particular situation (I have one on this cruise), but critical thinking will help all of them to make good decisions in life.

It is too soon for me to have a complete plan of how I am going to use this experience in the classroom, but my main component would be the interpretation of graphs leading to argumentation.  The week before coming on this cruise I participated in a three-day Climate Change workshop at The University of Georgia.  Things I learned at that workshop (we created a unit to use in the classroom) tie very well with a lot of data and facts I learned from scientists on this cruise.  

As I mentioned in one of my blogs, my job on this ship was blogging, but I acquired a new job and that was to control the CTD.  The CTD collects very important data.  Every cast of the CTD collected data that was recorded using graphs. I have access to use those graphs in my class, and my plan is for students to interpret them and correlate them to other data like that collected in the nutrient experiments (work I described previously).  I will have a main question that they will answer, and they will use data as evidence to back up their answer and explain how they come to their conclusion.  I am also thinking of connecting with Dr. Samantha Joye’s lab, so my students will have a hands-on experience of the type of research done on this cruise.

Today we are going back to Gulfport; some of us are getting off and some others will come aboard for the next leg of the cruise. The full length of this cruise goes to the end of July—at that time I will be getting ready to go back to school.  I am looking forward to bringing these new ideas into my classroom. 

This was an awesome experience and I thank everybody responsible for bringing me aboard the Endeavor.

Behind the scenes

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

The scientists on this cruise depend totally on the Endeavor’s crew.  There are twelve crew members on this ship, all of which are essential for the smooth running of this vessel.  I am going to introduce each of them to you, and I’ll add a picture of them at the end of the blog.

Let’s start with the Captain: His name is Captain E. McMunn and he is not a very gregarious person, but he does an excellent job running his ship.

Tim Varney is the Chief engineer: A joyful and friendly character who keeps the ship running (literally).

Chris Armanetti: A very friendly and talkative young guy.  He is always ready to share safety information with you, and he’s very proud of his work.

Shana Post-Maher:  She is the second in command and has a very warm personality and always wears a big smile.

Glenn Woodford: The gentleman of the crew; always ready to have a chat with Tim to discuss work issues.

Nick Tosto: He is a hard working young guy, very strong and proud of his work and family.

Dave Sterling: The new kid on the ship.  He had to deal with me a lot through the intercom when directing the CTD because he was one

of the doghouse guys.

Kevin Walsh: He is a nice, gentle, and quiet guy who walks by without making a sound.

Steven (Oscar): I will always remember his booming voice saying, “Good Morning Stella.”  He was always trying to help and inform you

about the ship’s rules and other important things to know aboard.

Paul Roussel: The poet. Everyday he writes a poem (Incredible isn’t it?). I’ll share one of those with you in this blog.

Steve Sniezak: The Chief Steward. A very friendly guy who’s always ready to please us with his culinary abilities.

Michael Brennan: He is the mess assistant.  Every morning when I came up to the galley, he was busily cleaning around making sure that everything was in place.  He always greeted me with a smiley good morning.   

Another person extremely important on this ship is Lynne Butler; she is the ship’s technician.  She is the connection between the ship and the scientists.  She runs all the very important scientific equipment on the ship like the CTD and the multicorer; she oversees the deployment of all instruments and repairs them if necessary.  I learned a lot from Lynn during my short stay on the Endeavor, and I have to say that she is one of the hardest working people I have met.

I would like say thank you to everybody I mentioned above for their kindness and support.   I wish them the best for the years to come.

High Seas Cuisine

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

I had a request to write about the food on the ship, so last night after supper and after everything was cleared up from dinner I had a conversation with Steve Sniezak, the Chief Steward on the Endeavor.  He told me about his responsibilities on the ship; he is responsible for everything inside of the house (the ship).  He has to keep up with various things: from linings for the beds, all type of consumables, and of course all food-related items, to making sure there is toilet paper, enough cups, etc.

Steve’s day starts everyday at 4:00 AM, when he makes a fresh pot of coffee. As he sips on his coffee he is also busily picking up stuff left around from the day before, like mugs, dishes, and uneaten plates of food.  Before he starts with breakfast he takes a peek at his domain; he looks at the pantry and freezers to make sure he has everything he needs for cooking the daily meals.  He writes his menu at least two days in advance.  Breakfast is from 7:30–8:30. You can choose what you eat: scramble eggs, fried eggs, even Egg’s Benedict on Sundays, two types of bacon, sausages, pancakes, French toast, and for those granola lovers (like me) he has the best granola, but also oatmeal and Cheerios.  There are raisins, cranberries, nuts, and brown sugar to add to your cereal, and one of the most delicious cut-up fruit you can imagine.  At 10:00 AM there is another display of snacks for morning break time.  Lunch comes at 11:30­–12:30; there is another break at 3:00 in the afternoon, and dinner is served from 5:00–6:00 PM.  For lunch and dinner we have a variety of dishes, and the most important part is that he will take care of your needs and cravings. He will have two entrees, two different types of vegetables, and one starch in his basic menu.

I asked Steve which was his favorite dish to prepare, and he responded that it depended on his mood.  When he is in a very good mood he likes to make beignets (Creole doughnuts); in a not so good mood he likes to make soups.  Soups calm him, he says, because dicing the ingredients takes time, so he has time to get over whatever was bothering him.  He says there is a lot of psychology in his job; he needs to understand the client, he needs to be aware of other’s behavior.  He is here to cook for you; when he wants to cook for himself, he goes home.

Steve loves his job; he can just look out his window and watch dolphins and other sea life.  He told me to tell my students that would like to go to culinary school not to spend too much money going to a fancy one.  He says getting an associate degree from a technical college will get them a job and after that just do a good job and you will get to the top.

How and who is producing methane in the water column?

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

 

This is a question Cedric Magen, a postdoctoral researcher from Florida State University at Tallahassee is trying to answer.  They have found production of methane in the water column at a depth between 60 meters and 100 meters, but they don

Mud III, the final episode

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School Athens, GA

 

There is a very important and busy mud group that I am just getting to; this is the University of Georgia mud team. Its members are:  Ryan Sibert, a doctoral student; Joy Battles, a Master

The Chief

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

 

Joe Montoya is the Chief Scientist on this Research Cruise; he is a professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech where he has been teaching for the last 15 years.  Joe has a lot of experience running this type of cruise, and he does a very good job at it.  This is an organizational job; the job involves coordinating sampling and scientific activities (trying to accommodate everybody

What fuels the oceans?

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

 

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to help my former student Sarah Weber, who is Joe Montoya

Using naturally-occurring radioisotopes to i.d. subsurface discharges

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

 

If you want to answer that question, ask Leigha Peterson. She is a graduate student from Coastal Carolina University working with Dr. Rick Peterson (no relation).  Leigha has a bubbly personality that makes working around or with her a fun experience.  Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to ask a her few questions about the research she is doing on this cruise, which I think is very interesting.

 

Rick and Leigha are using naturally-occurring radioisotopes to identify areas of seafloor fluid discharge into the water column.  Hydrocarbons and oil also arise from the seafloor discharge, so looking in areas with a known presence of these substances will potentially show high concentrations of naturally occurring radioisotopes.  Radium (Ra) is a known tracer of subsurface fluids into the seawater; this is the primary isotope used for her work. Leigha gets her water samples by using the CTD; these samples are taken at different depths.  After the samples are taken, Leigha extracts the Ra by filtering the water through a filtering system using manganese (Mn) coated fibers that will trap the radium present in the water.  At the end of that process the fibers become the sample and they are analyzed by the help of a machine that Leigha refers to as

We are doing great!!

Stella Guerrero science teacher at cedar Shoals high School

 

This is a very short message for all those mothers out there that would like to see more pictures of their daughters at work!  Today I chose the Wet-Lab

Playing with Mud Part II

Stella Guerrero science teacher at cedar Shoals high School

I mentioned to you before that lots of people play with mud on the Endeavor.  For part II of this sequel the protagonist is Maggie Esch, a graduate student at UGA in Dr. Christof Meile’s group. On board Endeavor, Maggie is conducting experiments as part of the Joye Group to examine how re-suspension of sediments in the overlaying water will change the chemistry of the water and also how the microorganisms react to re-suspension of sediments—do organisms grow more, feed more, is respiration increasing?

To answer these questions Maggie has set up an experiment that requires large amounts of mud and lots of creativity.  In many cases they have to improvise so they can get things to work; for example a water bath that keeps low temperatures for 3 to 4 days (pic).  All the mud people use the “multicorer,” a piece of equipment that I don’t think I have described before; it is a large metal structure that has 8 large polycarbonate core tubes arranged around a central metal structure called a spider (pic).  This is a very heavy piece of equipment because it needs to be lowered all the way to the bottom with its position in tact (i.e., it has to remain straight up). The very heavy weights at the top help manage this. (pic).  Each core tube has a mechanism that is triggered after the tube has penetrated the sediment, and it is brought up to the surface, where the samples are collected by the mud people (pic).  The whole process of lowering and recovering it up may take one to two hours.   

When the multicorer comes up, the mud people hover around it unloading it and taking the cores to a wooden rack where they will be able to describe the sediment samples (pic).  The cores are taken to a cold van and from there the cores will have different fates according to who is going to analyze it.  Maggie collects her cores, places a motor-containing lid with a shaft and propeller attached, and incubates it in a big water bath (pic) for 3-4 days.  The propeller is set at a constant speed.  She sets 12 cores (yes the multicorer only holds 8, so Maggie needs to get two multicorer drops for her experiment). Three cores she uses as controls—in these there is no spinning of the propeller; 3 spin at a high speed (rpm); 3 spin at a low speed, and the last 3 are set at a high speed but for only two hours.  Each of the cores is sampled periodically during the course of the incubation period (see pic).  The end product will be a time series of data that shows changes of the chemistry of the water, nutrient levels, bacterial production, as well as the presence of hydrocarbons.

How is Maggie’s work different than Kai’s work (Playing with Mud, part I)?  If you have been following this blog you would remember that Kai’s experiment is set for a shorter amount of time, but Maggie’s is 3-4 days. Also, the speed of the propeller is set in Maggie’s experiment at a constant speed. And finally, Kai’s experiment looks more at changes of the microbes in the water and Maggie’s looks more at identifying how the coupled water-sediment system responds to resuspension events.

Playing with mud!

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals high School

There are different groups on this ship that work with sediments. If you didn’t know this was a research vessel and that only people very serious about their research and its importance are allowed to be part of it (with one exception…me), you may get the feeling people around you just came out of a very muddy playground. They enjoy their work, and when the multicorer comes up with their samples they manage to transfer mud into their clothing and any part of their body not covered. 

There are three different groups:  The University of Georgia group whose members are:  Lindsey Fields a postdoctoral Researcher at Mandy Joye’s lab, Joy Battles and Ryan Sibert both doctoral students at the same lab. And last but not least Katie Smith  a very hard working undergraduate from GA Tech who has temporarily joined the Bulldawgs (see pics). The next group is made of one person: Maggie Esch, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, working at the lab of Christof Meile  (see pic).  My last group has two members, and they are Kai Ziervogel from the University of North Carolina and Julia Sweet from the University of California at Santa Barbara (see pic).  Even though their interest in sediments is different, all of these people are connected by mud and they help and work with each other.

The first group I am going to blog on is Kai and Julia’s group. I have been talking with Kai about his project, and I think you will find it very interesting.  I started by asking Kai about his hypothesis because I want to emphasize to my students that are following my blog the importance of hypothesizing in science and because I think it will make more sense not only to them, but to everybody that reads this blog.  Kai’s hypothesis is that “Even though oils sit on the bottom of the ocean, there are deep sea currents that could re-suspend the sediments and the oil that is associated with it.”  Some of his questions are: What physical forces are necessary to re-suspend particles into the water?  Another one is what current speed is necessary to stir up particles found at the bottom of the ocean?

To answer these questions Kai and Julia transfer samples from the multicorer to a chamber (pic). The chamber is equipped with a propeller that stirs up the sample at a particular speed. The speeds they will be trying out are in a range between 5-20 cm/sec; the high end (20 m/sec) may represent the speed of a high flow event (storm). This may take place maybe once a month in the Gulf of Mexico. Each chamber will have the propeller going on for 1 hr and 30 min.  After this period of time, water samples from the chamber are taken.   Kai and Julia will be calculating the mass of the particles suspended in the water by filtering the water and massing those filters.  They will also calculate the organic matter associated with these particles and calculate production of cells by doing cell counts.  This data will give them important information about the dynamics of microbial food webs at the bottom of the ocean under changing conditions.

So if these particles get re-stirred into the water column, what happens to them?  Kai and Julia have another experimental set-up that will help answering this question.  They incubate the water sample that contains re-suspended particles by using a roller tank; they keep their samples here for 10 ½ hours at 5°C.  After this period of time they will analyze the water to find out if the particles keep the same size or if they form aggregates (aggregates will be heavier and sink faster).

This experiment will help us understand what happens with all that matter that we don’t see but that is present at the bottom of the ocean, and how it is affecting the dynamics of this ecosystem. 

We should be aware of how fragile the environment is and how anything that we do directly or indirectly may cause changes to it.  

Sediment traps

Stella Guerrero science teacher at cedar Shoals high School

 Early one morning I went outside the cabin with a cup of coffee and I started talking to Cory, a graduate student in Joe Montoya’s lab at Georgia Tech.  Cory is a very friendly and energetic fellow who loves what he does.  He was busily working on a very large orange piece of equipment that I had not seen before, so I asked him what it was and how did it work.  Cory explained to me that they were putting together a sediment trap that was scheduled to be deployed shortly. 

My last two blogs described experiments related to resuspension, the stirring up sediments from the bottom of the ocean, but this blog is about catching sediment as it settles through the water column from the surface to the bottom of the ocean.  How do they do this? Well, you guessed, they use a very clever devise called “sediment trap.”  The set up for this device is the following: There is a main plastic structure in the shape of a cross to which 12 large tubes are attached and secured (pic).  These tubes are filled with very salty water (very dense); this prevents the mixing of the water sample in the sediment trap with the water column (the water in the ocean).  The cross (plastic structure) is attached to a line that has a weight at one end and a buoy at the other (large orange piece I talked about earlier) (pic).  The whole structure is sent into the ocean; the weight will keep it down, the buoy will keep it visible (pic).  The sediment trap will be retrieved in 48 hours and the samples will be analyzed.

Why are sediment traps important? These samples are used to measure the amount of carbon and nitrogen in the particle material that the trap catches as well as its nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition (I am sure my students know what isotopes are); just in case: isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons.  This way, scientists can measure the amount and type of nitrogen and carbon in association with sinking particles such as dead microorganisms, fecal matter from small invertebrates, and pieces of food that messy eaters, in this case grazers, put out there.  All those sinking particles are known as “marine snow,” which eventually become a part of the sediments that we have talked about earlier.

Microbial predator-prey interactions in an oily environment: Insights from the Gulf of Mexico

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

Talking to Nigel D’Souza, a postdoctoral research scientist who works with Dr. Andrew Juhl and Dr. Ajit Subramaniam at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University, I found out how little is known about the communities that inhabit the natural seeps, and the need for research in this area. 

Nigel was very kind to spend some time this morning talking about his research that hopefully will give some answers about these types of communities. He started by explaining to me the difference between the amount of oil released by a natural seep (very low) compared to the amount that was released during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/Macondo well accident (extremely high). Each oil seep has a unique chemical signature that is due to the source reservoir and the rate of seepage that regulates the extent of biological alteration. I have learned that oil released into the water at the bottom of the ocean by a slow-flowing natural seep rises through sediments with different types of bacteria feeding on various chemicals in the oil. They “degrade” it and change its composition. Fast-flowing natural seeps produce oil that has gone through the sediments much more quickly, so there is not much chemical change in oil flowing from them. Nevertheless, oil from the Macondo well blowout shot straight up from the well into the water without going through the sediment, so there was no chemical change in it from its source. When the oil spill happened in 2010 the organisms were exposed not only to extremely high concentrations of oil, but also to a possibly unique chemical oil cocktail.

Today Nigel and Mark, an engineer also from the LDEO, collected water samples from the surface; these samples are taken using the Niskin bottles on the CTD rosette, which is a large piece of equipment that goes into the water and collects water samples at different depths. Joe Montoya has assigned me the control of this machine, which is done through computers from the main lab (I have done it three times already). My job is to tell the winch operator the target depth and then “fire” (activate) each bottle according to the instructions (actually it is a very simple procedure).

After collecting the samples, they will set up batches that will be treated with different combinations of nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, iron, trace metals, etc.) and crude oil. There are two concentrations (100% and 10%) used in the experiment, and each set is carried out in separate “light” and “dark” bottles. By diluting the sample, they increase the distance between bacterial cells and their grazers, and by incubating samples in light and dark conditions, they can estimate the rates of “total respiration” vs. “net respiration” (a measure that accounts for photosynthesis in the light bottles). They will then measure the concentration of oxygen, chlorophyll, and cell counts in the bottles. The water samples are incubated for two days at surface water temperature (around 29°C).  At the end of the experiment, they will measure the same parameters again – this would enable them to determine the effect of nutrients, oil, and grazing pressure on the ability of the bacteria to interact with, and breakdown the oil.

This all sounds like a very neat experiment, but why is it important?  It is known that bacterial grazers can influence processes in bacterial communities. Nigel told me that his hypothesis is that grazers influence the rate of breakdown of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Looking at the interaction of the bacteria and grazers (bacteria eaters) in response to the amount of nutrients and the presence of oil in the ecosystem may give him results that will support his hypothesis. It is very important to understand the intricate relationships among these organisms, and it is neat to see how changes at any trophic level can be so crucial to our environment.

When I was talking to Nigel I got some ideas to use in the classroom. I still have to refine them, but I am sure my students will enjoy setting up their own experiments and trying to figure out the importance of the grazers.

At Work

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High school, Athens, GA

 

Started the day by shooting a couple of videos of scientists at work; this is another task that I am in charge of

The MOCNESS and the Alien

Stella Guerrero science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

 

 

Our First Day Out at Sea

Stella Guerrero, science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School

 

I started my day very early--or I could say my regular time--6:00 AM. The weather is great and the ocean is very calm.  I spent maybe an hour on the deck just enjoying the view and spotting here and there interesting creatures like dolphins and flying fish (by the way I do not recall seeing flying fish before).  Right now we are approaching our first spot, and at this point they are going to do a

Departure Requires Lots of Preparation

Posted by Stella Guerrero, AP Biology teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

 

Yesterday was a very hectic day for most of the scientists and crew on the ship because they were trying to fit this amazing amount of equipment on this relatively small ship.  People were going back and forth moving boxes from the main lab to the wet lab to the new unit lab they brought in, yes a big white box that they fitted on the deck with a sign saying

Off to Gulfport

Posted by Stella Guerrero, AP Biology teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, GA

To Gulfport, Mississippi

What do teachers do during their summer break?  Probably most people think that they take nice family vacations and forget completely about school work and their students, but most of the time teachers are looking for opportunities to enrich their curriculum to engage their students.  I am an AP Biology teacher at Clarke Central High School in Athens, GA, and this summer I am having a great opportunity, thanks to one of my former students.  I have been invited to accompany researchers from the University of Georgia’s Marine Sciences Joye Research Group (www.JoyeResearchGroup.uga.edu) and participate in a research cruise to the Gulf of Mexico that is being conducted by the ECOGIG consortium. I will be on board for two weeks, but the ship will have two legs (June 18 – July 15 and July 6 – 25).  My job is to give you an inside look at what happens on the R/V Endeavor (R/V stands for research vessel) during the cruise and help explain what the scientists and crew are doing. So I am going to start by writing about our trip down from Athens, GA to Gulfport, MS.

This morning I met my ride Kai, a researcher from NC, and Maggie, a graduate student at UGA. We packed the van; at the time I thought the number of boxes and equipment they were bringing were insane.  We left at 10:00 AM from Athens and had a very pleasant ride to MS. When we arrived at the dock and started helping unload, I couldn’t believe how little stuff we had brought compared with researchers from other institutions, who are part of ECOGIG also.  This type of research requires very specialized equipment to collect and process their samples.  The unloading was done by a very efficient human chain that passed box after box from the moving trucks (U-haul) to the ship; each box was accompanied with a command: “wet lab,” “main lab,” “01.”

The Endeavor

The Endeavor is a very good looking ship owned by the National Science Foundation, operated by the University of Rhode Island, and based at Naragansett, Rhode Island. (http://www.gso.uri.edu/rv-endeavor/rv-endeavor).  Its crew is a very friendly group of men and women, and I’m rooming with one of the women, Lynn, who is the ship’s technician.  The living facilities are very tight.  We sleep two per cabin, and there is not much extra room, which forces people to be neat and organized (I am trying my best).  I will include pictures of the sleeping quarters, so you guys will get a feeling of what I mean by tight.  Besides the cabins that are located in the”birthing area,” there is the main deck where the lab facilities, the library, the kitchen/mess area, the refrigerators and freezer, pantry, laundry, tool area, and I am sure I am missing some other room described by Steve (the cook) that I can’t spell or didn’t register on my mind. The top level is the 01 where there is lab space and equipment.  Today will be a day of organizing the labs and getting last minute items from the local Wal-Mart to get ready for tomorrow — the big day, the day of departure.    

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