This summer I will away on a 5 week oceanographic research cruise in the North Atlantic, between the Azores to Iceland. We will study an ecologically important microscopic marine plant, or phytoplankton, Emiliania huxleyi. This species forms large blooms in the world oceans and we are studying what happens at the bloom demise, specifically when Emiliania cells are infected by a virus. No need to worry, this virus only infects this specific phytoplankton, and is harmless to other creatures … We made a connection between cultures in the lab and natural populations a few years ago when I spent a few weeks in a marine lab in Bergen, Norway, studying growth and death of Emiliania in large bags located in the fjord, but this time we are going to where things really happen – the open ocean!
The Knorr, a 300 feet research vessel, will be my home for over a month this summer. The Knorr is owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by WHOI for the ocean research community. It is best known as the ship that supported a team of WHOI and French researchers in 1985 as they discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic. There will be about 30 scientists on the ship, from different labs around the US and Israel, and about 20 crew members. Many of the scientists are good friends that I worked with before, some I only know through email, and some I don’t yet know. So I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We will be working in shifts, sampling twice a day at 6am and 6pm and running lab experiments in between. The ship has several well equipped labs, but no swimming pool, gym, casino, game room or bar… The rooms have no windows. Every two room share a bathroom. So not exactly what you think when you hear the word ‘cruise’L. But I hear the food is pretty good, and I will have three meals a day without having to wash dishes… There will also be a fancy espresso machine on board, and my Israeli friends assured me that they are bringing lots of fresh good Turkish coffee. So I should be OK!
My cell phone will not work while in the middle of the ocean. A satellite phone will be available for $10/minute, so don’t expect phone calls. There is internet connection, but it is slow and limited. So don’t expect long emails, photos or Facebook updates… but if you are interested in how life is on the ship, what and how are we doing, here is how you can follow the cruise – Rose Eveleth , a free-lance journalist and videographer will join us and will document our activities. She will be posting a daily blog through the Scientific American website with pictures and text detailing our research, progress, happenings, etc. Also on the blog is a link to ask questions. So if you have any questions about the cruise, write to Rose. Click here to link to the blog.