Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Hawaii Cruise
March 13, 2001 to June 2, 2001
Monterey to Hawaii and back
Cruise Participants, Leg 5

Click on any name below to read an interview:
Leg 1 Crew; Leg 2 Crew; Leg 3 Crew; Leg 4 Crew; Leg 5 Crew; Western Flyer Crew

Click on any name to read an interview:
Ginger Elrod, Steve Fitzwater, Ken Johnson, Josh Plant, Sara Tanner

Ginger Elrod
MBARI Research Technician

What is your role on this cruise?
My primary responsibility will be underway mapping of surface water iron concentrations.

What are your primary goals?
Let me first say my primary prayer is to make it to Hawaii.

What do you expect to find?
We hope to see an Asian dust signal (higher iron) on the return transit as that is the "dust season" as opposed to the way over, a low dust season. We know that iron can be a limiting nutrient in some places. We also know the atmospheric dust deposition can be an important source of iron to the surface ocean. However, we will be on the opposite side of the Hawaiian Islands for the strongest signal coming from Asia. We will also be attempting to measure some of the lowest iron levels that exist in surface water.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of research cruises in general is producing data that is part of "cutting edge science". Participating in the IronEx experiments was an inspiring and powerfully scary feeling. To see the clear blue open ocean turn into pea soup after adding iron was amazing. It was also sad that John Martin was not around to see "The Iron Hypothesis" proven. Our iron work on the Pt. Lobos CTD cruises is also showing some similarly good stuff. 

I can't deny that my other favorite part of research cruises is getting to go to new places. Although I've been to Hawaii before, my first time there was on a research cruise. They have also taken me to Alaska, The Galapagos Islands, The Panama Canal, Tahiti, and Mexico. 

My least favorite thing is, of course, the long work hours and lack of sleep. I also like to say that you can tell your spouse and your kids that you will be back, but cats just don't understand and their little hearts are broken each time thinking I have deserted them.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I wanted to be a "Marine Biologist" for as long as I can remember. I spent every moment I could as a kid on the beach and poking around tide pools. I took up SCUBA as a teenager. Little did I know, I would end up doing analytical chemistry! The trace elements that we measure are such an important part of the biological cycle that we like to call ourselves "Global Biogeochemists." In truth, being a good chemistry student opened a lot of doors for me and the competition is minimal! 

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Steve Fitzwater
MBARI Senior Research Technician


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Ken Johnson
MBARI Marine Chemist

What is your role on this cruise?
Chief Scientist, computer programmer, CTD operator and 'gofer' for the people doing the real work.

What are your primary goals?
Our goals are to study the effects of Asian dust storms on iron chemistry in the upper ocean.

What do you expect to find?
Large clouds of Asian dust are transported across this region during spring time. Some of the dust settles on the ocean and a small amount of the iron and aluminum in the dust dissolves into seawater. We hope to see an increase in iron and aluminum, relative to our measurements along the same track in late March.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Discovering new things about the ocean. Being away from my family.

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
I like the ocean and didn't think I'd be a good commercial fisherman. Oceanography seemed like a good second choice.


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Josh Plant
MBARI Research Technician
http://www.mbari.org/staff/josh

What is your role on this cruise?
As a research technician, I'm here to help out with the scientific operations on this cruise including night time gravity coring and processing samples rocoverd by the ROV. In addition one dive is dedicated to recovering two Osmosamplers which are monitoring hot venting fluids within the pit crater of Loihi Seamount. These samplers were deployed over a year ago by the submarine Pisces V.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to make sure the Osmosamplers get recovered and processed. I'm also looking forward to learning more about the geology of the Hawaiian islands. Additionally, if some helpless tuna swims by I hope to help it become dinner.

What do you expect to find?
I hope that the Osmosamplers will give us a good view of how the chemistry of the hydrothermal fluids in the pit have changed over time. In August 1996 Loihi's summit collapsed, forming the pit and several new vent sites. Since that time the vents have been "recovering". Osmosamplers have been placed around these vent sites for several years to monitor this chemical evolution. The changes in temperature and chemistry of the fluid will give insight about the water circulation through the rock as well as information about the formation of the rock itself.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
So many parts of research cruises are enjoyable. The science dives are kind of like easter egg hunts since you never know exactly what you will find. The diversity of ongoing projects always keeps life at sea exciting. A BIG plus is having good food cooked for you. In addition, there is usually neat marine life to see while transiting from place to place and maybe a fish to catch.

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
Most of my free time has always been spent around the water diving in it, fishing on it or hiking near it. In high school I had the best teachers of my life and they really got me excited about science though at that point I still wanted to be an archeaologist. My high school physics teacher also taught me how to SCUBA dive which was probably the turning point. 

During my first year of college I took a great archaeology course about Bronze Age Greece. Unfortunately the class was a slide show type lecture in a dark room with comfortable chairs. Needless to say I usually fell asleep. So that was that for archaeology. My geology and biology courses on the other hand were pretty exciting so those were the areas I focused on. But by the end of college I was pretty tired of school so I spent a year as a commercial urchin diver and a lobster fishing in Maine. Then I headed back west to Alaska and fished for crab in the Bering Sea for a little bit. Eventually I ended up back in my home town of Inverness, California. I had good timing coming home. I started working as a field technician on a science project trying to better understand the chemical, biological, and physical interactions between the ocean and watershed connecting Tomales Bay. Now this was luck. I was getting paid to drive boats, dive and collect samples on the bay I grew up around. One of the project leaders was from Hawaii and he asked me if I was interested in going back to school. I said yes. For 4 more years I got to play detective with mud cores, using changes in stable isotopes and organic compounds to decipher the past land use history in the watershed. After that I worked as a research diver for California Dept. of Fish and Game and then as a research technician for MBARI for the last 4 years. So I guess science always interested me, but I never had clear direction of where it was taking me. It all just seemed exciting and fun.

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Sara Tanner
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

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