Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Hawaii Cruise
March 13, 2001 to June 2, 2001
Monterey to Hawaii and back
Cruise Participants, Leg 1

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

Francisco Chavez, Paul Chua (CSUMB), Ginger Elrod, Steve Fitzwater, Steve Haddock
George I. Matsumoto, Tim Pennington, Kevin Raskoff, Kim Reisenbichler
Atma Roberts (UCSC), Bruce Robison, Rob Sherlock

Paul Chua
California State University, Monterey Bay student

What is your role on this cruise?
Zooplankton Sampling, Bongos and Optical Phytoplankton Counter (OPC)

What are your primary goals?
Find variations in taxa between the California Current and open ocean

What is your favorite part of a research cruise?
Being at sea, I never know what is always gonna come up in my nets

What is your job title? How and why did you decide to become one?
Still on the path

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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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Steve Haddock
MBARI Post Doctoral Fellow

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be studying bioluminescence and conducting blue-water dives to assess the changes in populations of jellies as we move west and south across the Pacific.

What are your primary goals?
I hope to find certain uncommon species of ctenophores and hydromedusae which I will use for molecular studies.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to see a transition to more tropical species, compared with the species generally found in the chilly waters of Monterey Bay.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I enjoy being in the middle of the ocean, lying on the deck on a hot tropical night, counting the shooting stars. I love diving surrounded only by blue and finding amazing kinds of zooplankton. I don't like it when we run out of fresh fruit and vegetables, and I sometimes feel trapped only being able to walk 20 yards in any direction.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I decided to do what I enjoy, rather than worrying about what would pay the bills. I've been lucky enough to be able to do both. By a round-about route: engineering school as an undergraduate, and my biology teacher encouraged me to try grad school. I think getting a good general science and computer background is more important than having specific experience in marine biology. You can always put up curtains, once you have a house built.

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George I. Matsumoto
MBARI Education and Research Specialist

What is your role on this cruise?
I will working on the web page updates during the first leg of this cruise as well as carrying out my own research program on gelatinous zooplankton. I'm interested in learning about taxonomy, systematics, and natural history of the jellies in both the midwater and benthic region of the oceans. 

What are your primary goals?
Observe, hypothesize, and gather data. It should be a very productive expedition.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find different animals from those that we find in Monterey Bay. It should be a very exciting cruise.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is the excitement of being there, watching things unfold before our eyes and realizing that we are the first ones to observe the species or event. My least favorite is being away from my family!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I decided to be a scientist after taking a weekend course that put a mask and snorkel on my face and literally and figuratively opened my eyes to the incredible ocean environment. I majored in marine biology at UC Berkeley and then went and taught for a summer at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. I found that I enjoy both research and education and went back to UC Los Angeles for a PhD degree. I think that I have landed in an ideal situation here at MBARI.

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Tim Pennington
MBARI Senior Research Technician

What is your role on this cruise?
Biological Oceanographer and co-Project Manager for the outbound transit to Hawaii.

What are your primary goals?
Document hydrography, chemistry and biology along the Moss Landing-to-Hawaii transect across the NE Pacific central gyre.

What do you expect to find?
We expect to observe the transition from a highly productive coastal upwelling ecosystem to a low-productivity tropical ecosystem as we cross the NE Pacific. In addition we are very keen to look for effects of a shift in the Pacific Decadal climate Oscillation that may have occurred following the 1997-98 El Nino.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part is being at sea, away from all civilization. My least favorite part is missing my family.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
For 2 reasons: (1)I am always fascinated by the different forms and ways that life takes; and because (2) I believe that to sustain our civilization, we must learn everything we can about the world we live in. How did you become one? By education and persistence.

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Kevin Raskoff
MBARI Research Fellow

What is your role on this cruise?
To assist with the study of midwater organisms observed and collected during the trip. 

What are your primary goals?
To work on the taxonomy and ecology of any hydro and scyphomedusae encountered.

What do you expect to find?
No one knows! This area of the ocean is almost completely unexplored for these fragile gelatinous animals. 

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite: Working with such a great group of people for an extended period of time. Least Favorite: Having to be away from family and friends.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
The ocean and the animals therein are a great source of mystery and excitement. To be able to go on exploratory cruise like this was the main reason I got into science.  How did you become one? While in college I took several classes on marine invertebrates and found them fascinating. Jellyfish were especially weird and cool because of their completely alien lifestyle and look. I have been working on them ever since.

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Kim Reisenbichler
MBARI Senior Research Technician

What is your role on this cruise?
I am the Sr. Research Technician with the Midwater Ecology group. My primary responsibilities on this cruise are to: 1) Work with others in the group to collect ROV video transecting data and to work with animals that we collect during the ROV dives; 2) Participate in blue water diving operations (open ocean, tethered scuba diving) where we do relative assessments of the abundance of the organisms we see and; 3) monitor the ROV midwater sampling equipment for proper function and to repair and/or modify these devices, as needed, to enable us to make the collections that a necessary to perform our research. In addition, I monitor, troubleshoot and at times repair the onboard chilled seawater system and environmental chamber that we use to maintain some of the animals we collect during the dives.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are to successfully contribute to making the observations and collecting the samples that are required to meet our mission goals; compare the midwater fauna that we find in the different hydrographic regions between Monterey, California and Hawaii: the coastal zone, the California Current and the central Pacific gyre.

What do you expect to find?
I would expect to find a relatively rich abundance and diversity of animals within the relatively rich coastal zone that will taper off as we progress through the California Current region to reach relatively low levels within the oligotrophic central gyre. As a diver, I'm also looking forward from making the transition from cold to warmer waters, as well.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of the cruise is to have the opportunity to go out on the ocean and have the opportunity to observe what very few, if any, other people have had a chance to see first hand; how the animals are distributed within the upper water column between Monterey and Honolulu. In addition, the people that I have the pleasure to work with during this cruise are exceptional and I certainly can't complain about the food.

My least favorite part of this cruise is leaving my family. I miss my wife, Liz, and my son and daughter, Scott (6 yr.) and Sarah (3 yr.). I also feel badly about leaving Liz with the responsibility of caring for our children while dealing with the responsibilities of her own job.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My decision to become a scientist was based upon my love of the outdoors which was inspired by my Father's efforts to get my brother and I out fishing and hunting as often as possible. As I got into High School, I had the opportunity to work on our dairy farm where I learned to love building and repairing things, as well as taking care of animals. And after returning to an urban existence, I soon became aware that I needed to get an education that would allow me to do the types of work that I liked in an environment that I enjoyed being in.

So, I started to upgrade my education at a Junior College where I prepared to go on to a University, as well as get a degree in Oceanographic Technology. I then transferred to the University of California at Santa Barbara where I was able to work in the field as an undergraduate, met the man who has now been my boss and mentor for over 20 years, and received my B.S. and M.S. degrees in Marine Biology. Prior to receiving my M.S. degree I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at MBARI and I have been there ever since.

For those who are seriously considering getting into this field, I would suggest the following:
- Study hard and develop a good work ethic early (K-12).
- Try to really understand what you are learning (Don't just memorize).
- Get some real-world, non-science work experience before, or during college. It helps you appreciate the relative freedom we have working in this field.
- Get experience in your chosen academic field during college by getting involved in work-study programs, internships, etc...... Along with good grades, this will give you an edge in the job market. The other side of this coin is that you may find by this experience that this is not the field for you and you can still adjust your career path while still in college.

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Bruce Robison
MBARI Midwater Ecologist

What is your role on this cruise?
I am Chief Scientist on Leg 1 of the expedition, the transit across the eastern North Pacific from Monterey to Honolulu.

What are your primary goals?
The midwater research team will be conducting a series of ROV dives along the transit route from California to Hawaii. We will measure and sample the animals that live in the upper kilometer of the oceanic water column in order to learn about geographical variations in their ecology, distribution, and abundance.

What do you expect to find?
No one has ever used an ROV to study the midwater fauna out in the mid-Pacific, so we really have no precedents to tell us what we will find -- of course that's what makes this so interesting – exploring where no one has gone before. As we move into the waters of the North Pacific central gyre, we have predicted that we will see relatively larger numbers of gelatinous animals, both the grazers and the predatory species. Based on our long-term studies in Monterey Bay we believe that gelatinous animals are well-suited to deal with low levels of productivity, and relative to what we find in Monterey Bay, the mid-Pacific is a region of low production.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I love going to sea, and being at sea. Oceanography is a science that is best conducted by being on the ocean, being in it, and being surrounded by it. There is no substitute for direct, real-time experience. As Jimmy Buffett sings: "don't try to describe the ocean if you've never seen it"

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I grew up as a southern California beach kid. When I found out that you could get paid to do what I did for fun, it seemed like an obvious career choice. It took a while to see the obvious. I had a series of undergraduate majors -- Engineering, English, History, and Philosophy – before settling into science. But each of those false starts have helped to make me a better scientist. Eventually I had the great good fortune to find my way to Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, where it all came together.

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Rob Sherlock
MBARI Research Technician

What is your role on this cruise?
On this cruise I'm functioning as a technician for the Midwater lab and also as a research scuba diver.

What are your primary goals?
First and foremost I'd like to reach Hawaii. Along the way I'm looking forward to observing the changes in zooplankton (macro and micro) as we move from a productive coastal environment into the oligotrophic Pacific Gyre. Seeing how the Hawaiian islands affect the distribution of critters will be interesting as well.

What do you expect to find?
I think there may be a whole bunch of 'empty' blue water between Monterey and Hawaii. However, many gelatinous critters like salps and doliolids can make a living in even nutrient poor waters and I expect to see them on our dives. Warm, gin-clear water is something I not only expect but look forward to!

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My least favorite is the inevitable: running out of Hagen Daaz bars (if Kevin said this too, note that he *is* my roommate and we have an understanding). The best part of a cruise is the feeling that comes from being more a part of the ocean than apart from it.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I wanted to do something that was stimulating, challenging and fun. Marine biology holds promise of all that as well as the thrill of discovery. Although research cruises are usually hard work and long hours, at no other time are these things more apparent.

Find scientists that do interesting things, get to know and help them. It's important to find more than one. Even if it's 'grunt' work you'll see what science is about and be able to decide whether you want to pursue it as a career, a sideline (like a science writer) or not at all. Their advice and recommendations (to schools or future employers) will also help further you along. Keep this in mind as you wade through anoxic mud in an estuary, aspirate fruit flies from rotting cactus, or crunch through snow on your way to a collecting dive; all in the name of experience, of course!

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