This one is going to be a bit long since I’m packing a couple of days in.
We started to pack things up during our shift on Wednesday night. We took apart the MOCNESS and washed down the nets in fresh water (salt water is corrosive and stinks after a while). Thank goodness that part was done! The rest of the night went on smoothly we had a few stations and then the morning came and the shift was over. This was our last full shift.
Waking up to work on Thursday night we found out that the winch that was lifting the CTD in and out of the water was fried so we were done with using the CTD. But sampling must continue, so we ended up running Bucket Operations. You read that right, I said bucket operations. We ended up sampling the surface of the water by dumping a bucket over the side of the ship. No really, we just threw a bucket over and pulled it up with a rope. Shout out to Aras, the NOAA corps officer, for pulling that up during our shift because that stuff was heavy. Anywho, we did that for three stations and just like that the sampling part of the cruise was done.
Not so fast though! We still had to pack all of the equipment up so that new scientists could come on and use the ship for their own research. My shift had to dismantle the S25 and pack up some miscellaneous things. The night shift also needed to get acclimated to staying up during the day again since we were going home the next day. We decided to watch movies on top of movies to stay up. If I didn’t tell you before, the ship has a ton of movies and a pretty cool movie room. Apparently they get all of the recent movies along with the Navy since they are typically at sea for most of the year. But I digress, we watched the longest movie since Titanic, the Revenant (an interesting movie to say the least). Needless to say we needed to watch a happy-go-lucky kid movie after all of that so we watched Big Hero 6. By this time it as about 5 pm and I couldn’t do it any more, I was SCHLEEP (you read that right too)!
Friday morning came and I was wide awake, I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing since I was able to get up and help day shift pack a bit but I knew I would be super tired when everyone else was ready to hang out that night. We docked around 9:00 am in St Croix and the fun began.
First of all it was beautiful pulling up to the dock. The water was so clear, the beaches looked empty and the green hills on the island didn’t seem to end. A few of us had snorkel gear and deiced to see what was around. Can you say best decision ever? There was a school of tarpon feeding right around us. It’s like we swam right into the middle of it. You could hear the snapping of shrimp hanging out in the growth around the pilings holding the pier up. It was so clear and awesome and then I saw a jelly fish ... and then another. I thought to myself, oh no problem everybody else kept swimming so I should keep swimming too. Then I felt a sharp pain on my arm, two second later I felt a sting on my ear, and that was the end of that. I booked it from under that pier so quick it wasn't even funny. LOL. Come to find out most people were getting stung and just didn’t pay it any attention. Moral of the story is don’t follow the crowd! If it doesn’t feel right, bounce!
All jokes aside it was all worth it in the end. The fish were so beautiful and they were just doing their own thing. As far as the cruise stats I believe they completed a total of ~ 120 stations all over the Caribbean. That’s a lot of sampling and even more data to help understand the larval ecology and oceanography in that area.
I want to thank the FORCES Lab for another awesome learning experience and an overall great time. The experiences I had along with the people I met on this cruise have had a tremendous impact on my dissertation ideas. The people have been so influential that I am going to do one more blog post on just the people from the ship, the science party and the crew.
Stay tuned for the last installment of the June 2016 research cruise blog as I settle back into life on dry land.