At Sea with the Bold: A Big, Bold Adventure

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 3 (9.7.08):

Finally, we push off. The scientists are excited to get working and I was pleased to find out that I don’t just have to sit around and watch! I’m going to get the chance to get my hands dirty with sampling, too. Our group has been divided into two work crews, the Periwinkles and the Tiger Sharks – I’m a Tiger Shark. I’ll be joining the Sharks for the 2pm – 10pm shift.

After getting underway, we did an “abandon ship” drill. I was literally just getting out of the shower, barely had time to dry off and throw clothes on! The alarm sounds 6 times and we all muster on the upper deck, life vests and survival suits in hand, a head count follows and in the event of an actual abandon ship order, we get on the life rafts and get off the boat. Of course, I forgot my life vest and survival suit – not to worry though, I did have my comb. One of the crew comes barreling up the stairs and yells, “You’re standing between me and my life vest – bad place to be!” I realize I need a life vest and suit and see one sitting on the deck, and as I go to pick it up and another crew member comes down the stairs and says, “hey, that’s mine.” I’m thoroughly embarrassed with my dripping wet hair and comb, but thankfully Chris came over and got me a life vest. Sometime during my first most embarrassing moment at sea, we lost sight of land. Interesting feeling! VIDEO: Watch the drill and safety briefing.

workers retriving sediment sample The Captain made it to the first sampling site in no time at all – but unfortunately it took four drops of the equipment to get a proper sample. The first round of samples collected had everyone really excited. For each grab a photo is taken of the sediment before it is transferred into a sieve (for the benthic organism collection) or a pan (for the chemistry analyses). My shift is from 2 pm until 10 pm, so I’m just observing during this shift to make sure I know what to do.

For this survey, we will be going to 19 sites and taking two grabs per site for a total of 38 grabs. Why two grabs? One to look for critters (benthic organisms) and the other for chemical concentrations (chemistry sample). VIDEO: Tour the lab