In 2003 I received the opportunity of a lifetime to go out to sea for the first time on a major zoological expedition. I was merely an undergraduate, but at 24 – having started college a little later in life – I had an edge over many seniors. Namely, a continuous, unbroken thread of failures in life (a reoccurring theme in my life) which gave me much greater ambition than the 20 year olds who’s only jobs had been as volunteer student lab assistants.
I was an undergrad in both the Evolution & Ecology and Geology departments at the University of California, Davis. Two of my geology professors, Jim McClain and Robert Zierenberg, were invited on a cruise to do seafloor mapping and geochemistry. Knowing my interests in both marine biology and geology they invited me on to help them and any other scientists on board the ship. Janet Voight was the chief scientist and agreed to have me on. To this day, I credit them and the science party of that expedition (many of whom I worked with later) with nurturing my career in marine science.
During this expedition I tried my best to journal my experiences for my wife and family. To prepare myself I read Humboldt’s Narrative, Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez and Desmond & Moore’s biography of Darwin. Of course, I NEVER had the time to actually sit down and write prose and reorganizing my notes after the month-long expedition was hopeless. I was gone for the month of November and had special permission from instructors to leave and make up the work when I got back. So I was absolutely slammed.
Nonetheless I jotted down notes and observations about what I was doing and how I felt as often as I could. I hadn’t seen the journal for probably 6-7 years and forgot about it until my wife found it during our recent move back to Beaufort, NC. Of course I got nostaglic and even though I have been on several expeditions since, this cruise remains very special to me. It was my first, I was surrounded by a dozen people as nerdy as me, it was adventurous, I got to dive down in the Alvin submersible and there was an all around sense of real camaraderie (from my perspective) on board that has been difficult to replicate in subsequent experiences.
So, before I lose my journal again I thought it might be fun to post it all up here, so that it at least has a home somewhere. I’m not sure if it is important, or even interesting, but it’s me. I’ll post an entry or two each day until it’s done. Please feel free to leave questions and comments, point and laugh if you want! Anything might jog my memory. The material will remain unedited.
The expedition was also recorded online at the Field Museum during this time (before science blogs!) and includes dispatches, videos and photos!
East Pacific Rise 8°37′N-12°45′N
Nov. 1st – Nov. 25th 2003
Alvin Dives 3925-3941
Janet Voight, Chief Scientist
Gary Chiljean, Captain
Todd Haney – Crustacea
Meg Daly – Cnidaria
Robert Zierenberg – Geochemistry
Karen Von Damm – Geochemistry
Peter Batson – Photographer
Stephanie Smith – Videographer
Kim Millett – Journalist
Kim Beers – Geochemistry
Sabine Gollner – Meiofauna
Julia Zekely – Meiofauna
Lee Hsiang Liow – Living Fossils
Jim McClain – Geophysics
Beth Dushman – Geophysics
Breea Govenar – Ecology
Stepháne Hourdez – Polychaetes
Janet Voight – Mollusca
Kevin Zelnio – Invertebrates/Ecology
Cheryl Parker – Geochemistry
Thursday 10/30 11pm
Arrived in Panama early in the morning. The flight went rather well, but my luggage is missing. It’s very amazing that all four of us checked our bags at the same time and place, but only mine is missing. The crew & scientists appear friendly. My roommate is a kiwi named Peter, he will be the
ship expedition’s photographer. He is actually a scientist studying for a PhD in U. of Dunedin. Seems like a nice guy. The whole science party & Alvin crew went out to dinner at Penka’s in Balboa, Panama. I had a tuna fillet cooked Jamaican style whatever that meant. It was pretty good though.