Monday, July 19, 2010

Going Deep

Excitement was running high aboard the Kilo Moana this evening. The buzz was not circulated by groundbreaking scientific discovery, but instead by experimental arts and crafts. The science crew took a much appreciated breather from the hectic lab schedule in order to decorate 16 oz Styrofoam cups. These lone voyagers were strapped to the ships CTD on a 4,300 m deployment. The recovered survivors of 430 atmospheres of pressure, were mere dwarfs of their once mighty stature. These token souvenirs make a novel addition to any trip memorabilia collection.

In the words of Dr. Keil, from the University of Washington, “Few people will go to the moon, few people will win a major sports championship, but even fewer have a cup that has survived the depths of 4.3 kilometers”.

On the scientific front, all labs are moving ahead with the renewed energy/urgency of being over halfway done with the cruise. Many of the scientific crew are starting to feel the fatigue of little sleep and the constant pressure to squeeze all possible data from the cruise. Yesterday afternoon, I was fading in and out of sleep while attempting to process some of our many particle samples. In my moderate state of delirium, I began asking myself why I was processing marine waste with such tender loving care, as if it were a rare reserve of some precious metal, instead of grabbing some much needed sleep? It is during these times where a quick trip to the microscope with a fresh particle can renew one’s exploratory spirit. These particles are a universe unto themselves, of which we have very limited knowledge. It is only during these brief intervals out to sea where we can begin to scratch the surface of how these pieces of rotting waste are shaping the world in which we live. Thus, we forge on in relentless data acquisition, burning the candle at both ends in hopes of teasing a murmur of some microbial conversation from these marine particles.

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