At Sea with the Bold: Land Lubbers Bay-Area Bound

Two staff members, Margot Perez-Sullivan and Margaret Ford, joined nine environmental scientists and the crew of EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold to document science and research in action. Read the blog posts by Margot Perez-Sullivan from our San Francisco office to get an in-depth look at some of what’s involved in protecting our waters.

Day 5 (9.9.08):

Since pushing off on Sunday morning, we’ve lost three scientists to seasickness at different times. Fortunately, we’re all stoked to be doing hands on work; no one has a problem covering shifts when someone doesn’t feel well. Last night’s transit was particularly hard on some folks, but [knocking on wood] I sleep like a baby on this boat and luckily I haven’t gotten sick at all. I find the rocking hypnotic, but a few others don’t share my sentiments.

We are way ahead of schedule. There were 12 CTD deployments scheduled – and four were completed last night, leaving 8 for today. My shift doesn’t start until 2 p.m, so I’ve spent most of the day wandering around the ship, talking to scientists and the crew. The seas are a bit rougher today, so walking around on the ship has been particularly challenging. Walking is more like a zigzag through the ship, and I’ve been bumping into things constantly. I walked up to the stern of the ship and watched the boat go over waves and come crashing down. The seas have been so rough that some waves were above the height of the back deck – we took a sharp turn and some waves crashed over the deck!

So far, the only marine mammals we’ve seen were at seals at the dock in Eureka. Emily, one of the deck technicians on the crew spotted a whale yesterday or the day before, so we’ve all had our eyes peeled. Oddly enough, a hummingbird was flying around so Emily and Amanda (the chief steward) brought some sugar water out for the little guy. Kim, the first mate, told us that the hummingbird flew up into the bridge and flew out.

I’m hearing that the Captain cancelled the last CTD site as the seas are too rough, so we only have 3 samples left before the survey is complete! The last sample is our deepest on this survey at about 500 meters. For this survey’s final sample we all agreed to meet outside and celebrate a successful, safe survey.

It’s about 9 p.m. and the last sample is complete. With the last sample complete, we all cheered and thanked Allan for his great work on the survey. We all met on the back deck as planned to see the CTD surface from the depths one last time. When the last CTD sample was on its way back to the surface, Tina and I went down to the back deck. On our way down, my feet slipped out from under me and I slid (or fell..) all the way down the stairs. None of the EPA folks caught it – they were hypnotized by the science, but when I looked up, two of the guys on the crew were looking right at me. They saw the entire thing. When they saw that the only thing bruised was my ego, they laughed. So embarrassing…but I’m glad Margaret didn’t get it on camera.

This has been a great team effort. Being on a ship is a bit like a family – we all work, eat and when we can, goof off together. The crew has been great to work with all around, very professional, friendly, they take the time to answer our questions and most importantly, they ensure our safety – correcting us if we forget a hard hat, life vest or anything else that that could put us in harm’s way. For me, the best part about this experience was getting my hands dirty while collecting data and getting to know people in our office that we might not otherwise meet in our daily work. This has been a fascinating experience, I’m anxious to see the results of the survey and I’d love to do it again.

Next stop: San Francisco!

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