Chef, oui chef !

Hello everyone,

After Marion presentation on the marine technical staff, I thought it could be interesting to write about people who I consider among the most important on this ship: the ones that feed us !

I have to say that before getting on-board I was not expecting so much about the food. It was not because of the well-known cliché: ” french are so picky with food, they think that only them can cook ! ” but more because of pragmatical issues, it is hard to keep fresh food on a ship during more than 30 days and to make 3 different meals per day.

But finally, they manage to do it very well and even after 30 days on cruise, we still get good fruits, vegetables with different kind of meat, fish, shrimps and also, very nice deserts, such as ice cream, ginger cookies or blackberry and apple pies.

We also had the chance last week to get a BBQ on the forward deck in front of Gizo Island, it was very beautiful !


BBQ on the front deck

So, I would like to present the cooking staff composed by Terence who is setting up everything in the Thompson’s galley, brings supplies to the 2 fridges that we can use all the time, which is very appreciable especially when you work by night, as I do ! Thanks a lot for that !

He helps also the chef, Dan and the second chef, India in the kitchen to prepare food and cleaning.


Cooking staff: Dan (left), India (middle) and Terence (right)

To finish this blog post, I let you appreciate this picture of the ship’s galley, sorry for missing people I wish I would have a nicer camera to take large angle pictures !


Dinner time in the Thompson’s galley



Pack It Up!

All the Moorings have been recovered.  All the CTD's have been cast.  We've planted 4 new moorings to be harvested next year!  Time to pack up and head home!

All the Moorings have been recovered. All the CTD’s have been cast. We’ve planted 4 new moorings to be harvested next year! Although the cruise was great, and we have seen amazing things, I miss solid ground. Time to pack up and head home! –spencer

A Very Different and Interesting Sea

Hi everybody! This is my first contribution to the MoorSPICE cruise blog (I am quite late, but they say better late than never :p). My name is Mar Benavides, I come from Spain, and just recently I started my postdoc at IRD Nouméa. My job during the MoorSPICE cruise is to measure N2 fixation rates in the dark ocean (below the 200 first meters where sun light is available), and relate these rates to the composition and lability of dissolved organic matter. This may sound very sophisticated and complicated but in fact it only requires one thing: a lot of patience to filter hundreds of liters of water onto tiny filters (and a strong back to carry those hundreds of liters around the ship). Fortunately enough for me, Dana (one of the crew members) lent me a little trolley to do that 🙂

Me looking at the many 1 gallon bottles to be filled in the next CTD cast

Me looking at the many 1 gallon bottles to be filled in the next CTD cast.

Why do we care about N2 fixation in the ocean? Well, primary production in the oceans is strongly limited by the availability of fixed nitrogen. In open ocean nutrient-impoverished areas, which make up ~50% of the global ocean surface, nitrogen is mainly provided through the process of biological atmospheric nitrogen (N2) fixation. N2 fixation is carried out by the so termed diazotrophs, marine microorganisms that may belong to the cyanobacteria, bacteria or archaea. For many years, autotrophic diazotrophs were thought to be the most abundant diazotrophs in the ocean (an example of an autotrophic diazotroph is the very famous Trichodesmium filamentous cyanobacteria, see below).

Microscopy picture of a Trichodesmium colony (each filament is composed of hundreds of cells, and all the filaments tangle up forming a rounded colony commonly called “puff”).

Microscopy picture of a Trichodesmium colony (each filament is composed of hundreds of cells, and all the filaments tangle up forming a rounded colony commonly called “puff”).

Autotrophic diazotrophs need light to fix carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, and therefore are constrained to the sunlit layer of the ocean, which is generally less than 200 m deep. Recent investigations have revealed that heterotrophic diazotrophs, which cannot photosynthesize, are present in greater abundance than autotrophic diazotrophs in the world’s oceans. Heterotrophic diazotrophs are not constrained by the availability of light and therefore are able to live in the dark ocean, the largest and less studied habitat on Earth:

So far, N2 fixation has only been measured in the epipelagic layer of the ocean… but what about the dark ocean? What is happening from about 200m to the ocean floor?

So far, N2 fixation has only been measured in the epipelagic layer of the ocean… but what about the dark ocean? What is happening from about 200m to the ocean floor?

Because they are not photosynthetic, heterotrophic diazotrophs need an external source of dissolved organic matter (DOM) for their nutrition. However, the nature of this DOM and how it influences their activity is largely unknown. My project aims to cover this gap by studying their relationship with DOM in the ocean, and the MoorSPICE cruise is my first opportunity to do so. Later on this year I’ll be working in the New Caledonian lagoon, and next year on a long cruise between Tahiti and New Caledonia onboard the R/V L’Atalante. Hopefully we’ll find interesting results!

Besides the science and my endless filtration hours, I am having a great time onboard. It is a real pleasure for me to be on a cruise co-leaded by two female scientists! And also to enjoy the enthusiasm of the students that are experiencing their debut in oceanographic cruises. But most of all, I am really impressed by the strong currents and bizarre CTD profiles we have been observing so far (totally different to what you learn in oceanography books). The water mass characteristics and current pathways in this area are very complicated, and this is exactly why we are here.

Especially yesterday we had very strong currents during our CTD cast, and in fact the current itself was lifting the CTD upwards! This amazing place does not only have tremendous currents, but also beautiful volcano islands:

Cargo ships passing by a volcano island in Vitiaz Strait.

Cargo ships passing by a volcano island in Vitiaz Strait.

At the end of my work day, I like to sit on deck and enjoy the views while the sun goes down.

See you in the next blog entry!


Being a Biologist on a Physicist Cruise

The neophyte: The SPICE project (including the MoorSPICE cruise) aims to understand the water mass circulation in the SW pacific. So why physical oceanographers should invite three biologists on board?

The biologist: As a biologist, being here is the certainty to meet our favorite little organisms: the diazotrophs. These algae are incredible (actually, I shouldn’t call them algae anymore because they are in fact bacteria but whatever). As you certainly know, nitrogen is essential for life. But in tropical surface waters, inorganic nitrogen (e. g. ammonium and nitrate) is present in very scarce concentration. Rather than competing with other species for almost nothing, diazotrophs prefer to assimilate the huge reservoir of N2 gas dissolved in the seawater. As they are the only organisms able to perform such process, they are very competitive.

The neophyte: But why should we be interested in these stuffs? Who cares?

The biologist: Maybe not any of us if we didn’t know that these organisms are one of the main sources of bio-available nitrogen at the surface of the ocean. This is basically the same as saying they partly control the marine primary productivity!

The neophyte: But is primary productivity that important for us? All this green floating motionless bugs are so unexciting.

The biologist: Okay, I confess these cells are only “green floating motionless bugs”. But without them we would have 2 times less oxygen to breathe, we wouldn’t have any fish to eat and we would have much more CO2 in the atmosphere!

Hugo and his bubble.

Hugo and his bubble.

The neophyte: Okay, but is that a reason to make a show of yourself in your plastic bubble?

The biologist: Not really. It’s just to stay away from the physicist!


It’s not completely right, it’s also to keep the Iron away and try to understand if the latter could be a key in the control of the diazotrophs. But that’s another story!


Chronicle of a grumpy french man

What’s up with that?

Warning: This post contains foul language and definite sarcasm.

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m an alcoholic. I’m not just saying that because it’s my first time blogging and I might not have grasped the concept of blogs yet. But also, it’s been ten days without alcohol! A dry boat!? What’s up with that? I mean, come on! When did sailors stop drinking? Anyway, this dryness may explain the tone of my prose.

As you may already know, the cruise started on the 28th of February and will end on the 31st of March. Which makes a whole month trapped in a tiny iron shell (cf. Florent’s earlier post) surrounded with water almost 30 degrees Celsius. We’re not stopping once to take a dive!! Seriously?! What’s up with that? This is definitely the most frustrating part. I’m sampling water on the CTD (for those who know what that is), so basically I’ve got my hands in water from 5 to 30 degrees and not allowed to enjoy a swim in it … that’s f***ed up, man!

Also, we’re now at 4 degrees south of the equator, sailing between beautiful islands. I’m sure you imagine: blue skies, coconuts and lovely sunsets, right? Wrong! It’s been cloudy for three days now. What’s up with that? I mean, I could have stayed in France for that!

And finally, ten days at sea crossing beautiful waters not so far from paradisiac virgin beaches. You must be expecting a diverse wild marine life, an exceptional fauna? F*** all! The shadow of a couple of dolphin backs spotted 300 meters from the boat and that’s it. What’s up with that? Has this part of the world gotten stripped? When did that happen? Although, when you see the number of those freaking fishing boats you start to get it. What do you mean they need it to make their living? I don’t care! I’ve got problems too, man! They could have left a few, so an upper-middle class French asshole like myself would have stories to tell when he’ll get back to his friends.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ll leave you with that and I hope that now, you too are wondering:

What’s up with that?


A note from the editor: I must clarify that this was posted in humor and that Sam is in fact having quite a good time.

Moor Mooring Recoveries


Everything is still going well aboard the Thompson and I think it is safe to say that everyone has settled in by now and we are in a routine. We have traveled from the Solomon Sea to the Bismarck Sea (Papua New Guinea) and have seen what looks like beautiful land in the distance. This morning, our shift saw Venus very bright and beautiful, followed by an amazing sunrise (sorry, no picture). Here is a re-cap on what we have been up to at work in the last week.

We have now done 17 CTD casts in total, and the deepest one so far went to 3526m. We have also started recovering moorings (5 so far and will do 3 more). Then we will re-deploy 4 moorings again.

In 2012 during the Pandora Cruise, which was also part of the SPICE project, moorings have been deployed in certain locations to measure the water transport and its variation over 20 months. These moorings have a heavy block (an approx. 4000 pound anchor) at the bottom, and a Kevlar cable attached to it. At the very top of the line is a buoy, but this is not sitting at the surface, but usually between 200 and 400m below, so that boat traffic, fishing etc. doesn’t affect or harm it. Between the top buoy and the anchor are various pieces of equipment, such as CTDs (like the ones on the rosette, but stationary giving us salinity, temperature and depth), dissolved oxygen sensors, temperature sensors, LADCPs (also similar to what we have at the rosette, but again stationary measuring the velocity of the currents) and more.


The rough process of retrieving the moorings is as follows: We arrive near the site of deployment. An acoustic modem is used to communicate with the mooring. It sends a series of sound waves at a certain frequency, which tells the release mechanism near the anchor of the mooring to release, which it then does and notifies us at the deck unit of the acoustic modem about it. The buoy then floats up to the surface, where we spot it, drive closer to it (without running the cable over) and then we attach a line, which goes over a block to the winch. It then gets reeled in via the winch and as each piece of equipment arrives, it gets taken off the line, washed and put aside. The data will then later be downloaded and analyzed. We will write more about deploying moorings in another post in the future.


At 2 moorings we had trouble locating the buoy, after it had been released and we spent over 2 hours looking for it. Eventually we found them safe and sound. If the mooring is not spotted soon after it has come to the surface it can drift away very fast and become very difficult to spot. We can use the acoustic modem to find out how far the mooring is away from us, if we cannot find it immediately. In some cases the release mechanism may not work or the line might be entangled in a fishing net under water and not be able to come up. It would be less than ideal to have spent the time and money to deploy the mooring to continuously collect data and then not be able to access that data. Hence, you can imagine the spotting of the mooring is a very exciting time and of course once the mooring has been found, it is a big relief.


Meet the Marine Technicians

… they are the life-blood of this operation, acting as a bridge between the knowledge of the ship crew and science party. Without these individuals our experiments would quickly escalate into a logistical nightmare and any small issue would soon get out of hand. They ensure we know how to use all the computers and sensors provided by the ship and help us to communicate and update the cruise plan with captain and crew. Beyond having an incredible knowledge of the ship, they are fun, hardworking people who are just as enthusiastic about the science as we are. They are also now our friends. And we are so grateful for all they have done for us on this cruise already. So meet the people we really wouldn’t be able to pull all of this off without:



Patrick is our lead resident marine technician. Whether we have a question about an instrument, how to read fluorometer output, or where to find some spare ratchet straps, Patrick is the go-to-guy.

Patrick grew up outside of Washington DC in College Park, MD and later went on to get a Master of Science in Oceanography at the University of Washington. While a student at UW, Patrick went on his first and most memorable cruise from San Diego to Seattle. He remembers that on the first night, leaving San Diego there were a pair of dolphins playing in the bow wave during a bioluminescent algae bloom; quite a memorable image and a great way to start off a cruise. After graduating UW, Patrick applied to be a marine tech but wasn’t able to break into the field and so he worked elsewhere until several years ago when the University of Washington again began looking for marine techs and approached him to take a temporary position. This led to Patrick being hired full time by UW and he now lives in Seattle where he works in the main office when he is not out to sea or on vacation. When he is working in Seattle, Patrick maintains the sensors that are used on cruises and ensures they stay calibrated and serviced. In addition he takes care of the scientific equipment logistics for cruises, orders new equipment when needed and works on improvements for the UW cruise program.

When Patrick is out to sea he enjoys getting to travel and learning about the ocean science at work though sometimes he can find the work quite stressful when trying to fix problems out at sea. His favorite work he has been a part of on the R/V Thomas G Thompson has been building an observing system for hydrothermal vents off the coast of Oregon. Hydrothermal vents were a hot topic when Patrick was getting his masters and still finds the science quite interesting, while this project up to now has mostly focused on infrastructure for real-time observations.

Right now Patrick is reading a book on the history of connecting the United States via roads, railroad lines, telephone cables and the internet. His favorite pie is cheery and he enjoys chocolate and pastries. When he is off the ship he likes to hike and sea kayak in his free time and generally be outdoors.



Tina is our second marine tech. While not a permanent resident on the R/V Thompson, Tina has a great relationship with the ship’s crew and is full of knowledge about the instruments used on deck.

Tina hails from Beaufort, NC where she still lives when she isn’t out to sea. She attended Marquette University getting a BSc in Biomedical Engineering and after worked for a year making biomedical devices that simulated tissues for testing cat scans and radiation treatments. Once at her old job she even made fake babies for ultrasound testing. She soon realized that biomedical engineering was not for her and eventually was hired by Duke University at a resident marine technician for the R/V Cape Hatteras and accepted the position as it sounded too good to pass up. Her work on the Cape Hatteras eventually ended when the ship was sold to make room for new research vessels, however the National Science Foundation created a pool for marine technicians that has allowed Tina to get contracted out to many ship over the last years.

One of the most interesting ships Tina has been on was Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s R/V Langseth, which has a set of “air-guns” on the hull that release high pressure bursts of air, sending pings to the sea floor. On this cruise, the scientists used hydrophones (underwater listening devices) to track the reflections of the pings from the sea bed. As Tina finds herself most interested in the cruises where geology tends to be the focus, she has also enjoyed experiencing the cable laying portion of the Ocean Observations Initiative where communication and power cables were laid from Oregon out to underwater stations to measure seismic activity on the ocean floor and the water properties in the region. Tina enjoys working as a marine tech as it allows her to travel the world (her favorite place so far was the Bahamas) and meet interesting people along the way, though after long periods of time the twelve hour days can be a bit taxing on her. She’s also enjoying getting to try foods from all over the worlds during her cruises. On this trip alone she tried breadfruit, starfruit, and quinoa. This cruise will also be Tina’s longest research cruise.

When Tina isn’t at sea she is still out on the water; enjoying the beach, floating on a river, kayaking or riding her beach cruiser. She is currently reading “In a Sunburned County”, which is about Australia in preparation for her upcoming trip there, and likes the show “Orange is the New Black”. Tina’s favorite pie is apple.


Nick is our intern marine tech during the moorSPICE cruise. As an intern, Nick is still learning a lot but has a great understanding of the ship, a positive attitude and is always looking to learn more about his job and the science we are doing.

Nick is a recent graduate of Kutztown College where he received a BSc in Oceanography. While at Kutztown, Nick participated in a student cruise sparking his interest in ocean sciences and leading him to apply for a six month internship as a marine technician aboard the R/V Thompson and the R/V Kilo Moana. He is also interested in computer science and hopes to combine his interests in oceanography with computer science, especially to improve public outreach for oceanographers. Nick has thoroughly enjoyed observing the ocean processes during his time at sea that he studied at school. He particularly enjoyed the previous cruise where the focus was on observing mixing near the ocean bottom in the Samoan Passage. In addition to learning about research, Nick enjoys getting to meet new people and travel, though the long workdays for extended periods of time can be tiring. After this cruise Nick will be joining the science crew on the R/V Kilo Moana for 3 months before his internship ends in July. This time at sea has inspired Nick to look for further opportunities to work on a research vessel and he is also considering continuing his education.

After this cruise he plans to spend some time in New Zealand and hike. Nick also enjoys swimming and being outdoors. He is currently reading “Longitude”, a book about the technological advances in seagoing, and “Programing the Web”. Nick also likes apple pie.

That’s the way sailors are!!

     It is now nearly but only a week since we left the steady ground to join the marine universe and I find incredible how all of us seem already quite familiar with this perpetually oscillating environment.  It’s like it had always been like this. The earth is also moving after all but we never care. Georges is the only one who seem a little bit sick but he told me that thanks to some weird magic ginger pills he’s now ok. I definitely thought ginger had other virtues…..


Anyway, living on a boat is definitely something particular, different. You feel surrounded by one of the highest feeling of freedom but actually you’re just in a tiny iron shell. Making the choice of living on a boat, 6 months per year, as are doing most of the crew is definitely a very strong choice, involving such a strong way of living that you might never be able to go back. You become a sailor, swallowed by the strength of the ocean. Platon well said that there are three kinds of men. Those who live, those who die and those who live on the sea….


            This boat, the scientific lady Thomas G. Thompson (named she because sailors love their boat as others love a woman) has the particularity that her crew is quite often changing (can’t trust  a woman…). Among the 16 people on board, some like Nick are just here for 6 months before he ‘ll be back to some geological studies when others like Mike have already lived many stories with this ship. Among them, he told me that 3 years ago, they went through the drake passage (between the Antarctic and Cap Horn) in order to bring some retail to a scientific expedition in the Sandwich islands. The weather there was so terrible, with waves higher than 10 meters that they broke half the motor engine and damaged most of the sailing instruments. Fortunately, no scientists were on board because even the crew was really scared by the conditions. A boat like that is not at all made to fight against this kind of weather !


After several terrible days, they finally managed to get out, but the worse thing about the story is that the captain died during these days, remaining an awful memory for all the team. The storm can’t therefore be assigned as entirely responsible because Dana (one of the watch standing of the ship) told me that he was really sick before the beginning of the cruise and that he should had never came for this mission with his health. I concluded that his life was so devoted to the ocean that he couldn’t stand to stay on earth.

That’s the way sailors are !!


What’s going on out here? – A Physical Picture

… and where are we anyways?

We are at the red dot!

We are at the red dot!

About there, just south of New Ireland, in the Northeast corner of the Solomon Sea, the body of water bounded by Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and the focus of this research cruise. But back to the first question, what’s going on out here and most importantly, why are we interested?

Schematic map of the currents in the Southwest Pacific Ocean.

Schematic map of the currents in the Southwest Pacific Ocean.

Ocean currents act like conveyer belts, carrying water with different temperature and salinity from place to place. The movement of heat in this way is very important for weather and climate. Where we are in the Solomon Sea, heat is transported by these strong currents from the Southwest Pacific Ocean into the Equatorial Pacific where that heat will influence cyclone intensity and frequency and general weather patterns in the regions. In addition, this transport of heat also influences climate variability on much longer times scales (several years), for example the El Nino/La Nina cycle which changes the climate on global scales. Because of these processes we know this is a very important area of the ocean to study, however until recently the Solomon Sea has not be the focus of such field experiments. Our cruise is a part of a much larger experiment to better understand this region as our knowledge of its importance grows.

Map of the SPICE experiments.

Map of the SPICE experiments.

The Southwest Pacific Ocean Circulation and Climate Experiment (SPICE) is an international research project that consists of modelling and field studies of the key and understudied regions of the Southwest Pacific, including the Solomon Sea. This cruise is one of many current and ongoing experiments that are a part of the SPICE project. Our project will look at physical, biological and chemical processes in the Solomon Sea. The rest of this post will focus on the physical processes we are trying to understand.

In June and July of 2012 a team of our scientists came out to the Solomon Sea to deploy instruments attached to moorings that would stay in the Solomon Sea for 18 months. A mooring basically consists of a very long cable (1000’s of meters long) with a heavy weight attached to one end and a large float attached to the other. Lots of instruments are attached along the cable and these instruments measure the temperature, salinity, pressure, and velocity of the sea water passing by. Once deployed, the heavy end sinks to the bottom and the float keeps the cable more or less vertical in the water. Sometimes mooring floats go all the way to the surface, but in our case they stay several hundred meters below. These instruments are now able to measure the physical properties of the sea water at those locations for a long stretch of time. These kinds of data records are called “time series” and allow us to see how physical properties change over days, weeks, months and sometime even years. Right now we are here to recover these moorings and collect the data they have stored for us.

A carton of what a typical surface mooring looks like. Our moorings do not have surface floats though.

A carton of what a typical surface mooring looks like. Our moorings do not have surface floats though.

The moorings are not the only way we can measure the physical properties of the Solomon Sea. While moorings are very good for time series information, individually they don’t give any picture of how the properties change over space and to put out lots of moorings can become incredibly expensive. This is where ship-board profiling comes into play. All research vessels have special cranes and winches that are used to deploy what is called a rosette (see the picture below) and take the rosette up and down in the water. On the rosette we mount many different instruments, some for physical properties, and others for chemical and biological, and have these instruments take measurements while the rosette travels vertically through the ocean. There are also large bottles that can be closed at particular depths so we can sample the water from many locations. The physical measurements made on the rosette are the same as those made on the moorings; temperature, salinity, pressure and velocity. From this data we can see how each property changes with depth. Also this method is quite quick so we can do many profiles during our cruise and look at how these profiles change from one location to another.

The rosette with bottles and instruments about to be lowered over the side of the ship.

The rosette with bottles and instruments about to be lowered over the side of the ship.

And what do we do once we have all this data? One thing we will do is create a picture of the currents present in the Solomon Sea and the how these currents change over time. From here we can estimate how much heat and water is transported in and out of the Solomon Sea, important information for scientists making models of the global and regional climate. Another process we will investigate is the vertical mixing as a result of breaking internal waves. Internal waves are just like the waves you see on the sea surface, except that they travel along the interface between two water masses of different density (see picture).


A simple cartoon of internal waves.

These waves travel much slower than the waves we see on the beach or out sailing, but these waves tend to also be much bigger, some scientists have found 100 meter tall waves- that’s really big. Just like the waves on the beach, internal waves will break and become turbulent and mix up the water. This process brings heat from the warmer surface layers down into the deeper and colder regions of the ocean.

So that’s a taste of the physical processes we are trying to study with this experiment. Please put any questions you might have in the comments below and we’ll try to answer any questions you have. Also look forward to a similar post by our resident biologists who will tell you all about their work!

For more information on SPICE, look here:

For a more detailed explanation of our field and modelling study of the Solomon Sea, look here:



Mooring Day!

So today was an exciting day for all of us (the science team and the crew) as we begun our first CTD shifts and the first mooring went underway,

The mooring team and resident marine technicians recovering a mooring from Solomon Strait.

The mooring team and resident marine technicians recovering a mooring from Solomon Strait.


while I made my first butter chicken for dinner (hopefully no one has high expectations of this!!)

Delicious butter chicken served as one of the main courses for tonight's dinner.

Delicious butter chicken served as one of the main courses for tonight’s dinner.

and performed yoga (so far with great difficulty, my first time teaching this in a moving ship (the tree asana was especially hard!!), but Sophie and Veronique love it so far.

 Everyone’s on a different shift here, mine is from 4pm-4am while George is 4am-4pm for nutrients and salinity testing with CTD casting. Hugo seems pretty immersed in his interesting research on nitrogen fixation and trace metals.

Hugo hard at work in his clean bubble for measuring trace metals.

Hugo, not working very hard.
Hugo, not working so hard.

George shows great enthusiasm for understanding these oceanographic features; it’s his first time on the ship, as is mine. His my counterpart for the salinity sampling, measurements, recording!! 

George working with the salinometer.

Sri checking the salinometer calibration standards.
Sri checking the salinometer calibration standards.

We are all still adjusting to the noises (of the CTD casting from the crane & engines) and trying to fine-tune to an adaptable cycle of sleep.

Everything appears charming at the moment, there’s heaps of tantalizing American junk food (I call it the evil corner!). I started off with an enormous Nutella cravings but now its disciplined (on a hopeful note) and the exercise room is included in my normal routine.

Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been so kind to us (some of us were excited to attempt a glimpse of the fabled green flash at sunset), its been raining with overcasts for 2 days now (although sea conditions are calm), while we arrived near Bougainville island, I am still adjusting to passing the Solomon islands just one day ago, and arriving near north of the Solomon islands today. This is going to be exhilarating, over the next few days, we are looking forward to regulate into our shifts and there’s going to be more mooring retrievals so more ventures for each of us to be a direct part of this process.

On a happier note, so far no one has been really sea sick as of yet…hoping to keep it that way.

After a day of long shift, we usually make our way up to the tip of the ship (we call that the pointy corner- Janet has christened this!!) where there’s hammocks where we usually share a few laughs with a cup of infusion tea/café in the picturesque sunset when it’s a good weather…sometimes we are even lucky to catch a glimpse of several dolphin’s and lion fish.

Occasionally after dinner we also play darts and Ping Pong, George and I are beginners (one of the crew (Olandor) has been teaching us) and we pale in comparison to Florent, Sammy & Hugo who seem to have a natural flair for this.

Sri and George playing ping-pong while Cedric and Olivier fix the instruments recovered from the mooring.

Sri and George playing ping-pong while Cedric and Olivier fix the instruments recovered from the mooring.

We might have a championship at some point to prove that statement wrong…

Also there’s the TV room with an awesome XBOX and an immense supply of American and even some French movies and a library with an overwhelming Stephen King, Ken Follet and classics like Star Trek.

So far its been almost one week for this science cruise and its been amazing getting to know life on the ship as well as other enlightening research from students during our science talks/discussions where we exchange ideas on data assimilation, modeling in the Solomon sea and contributing to each others research. And Cyril has promised to help me brush up my French speaking skills. He is hilarious, I am getting to know him, Sammy and Florent better with each passing day and sometimes we even exchange ideas on the model (NEMO PISCES) that Florent is working on and the outputs that I use from his model (into SEAPODYM forecasting)!

We have also planned for other fun activities to achieve equilibrium during this science cruise, one of the crew has promised to teach me proper fishing, we look forward to salsa night, maybe even a karaoke night since Sammy & Florent sing and play the guitar quite well and also Damien (the third mate) promises us a tour of the ships engine room so keep a watch out on this space for more fun activity and science experiment pictures.