We’ve got a lot of prepping to do!

February 13, 2015

After our nightly meeting and a presentation by Martín Hernández, the group’s focus shifted to preparation for the continuous experiments that will begin tomorrow, literally at the crack of dawn.

Martín presents his data to the science team.

Martín presents his data to the science team.

As usual, we stopped to make a CTD cast at a GOC 2012 site. The results of our standard time-series tests led the team to change our final destination closer to our current location than the originally planned spot. At 4:45 a.m. tomorrow  we will arrive at a point just southeast of Cabo San Lucas where we will set up for our three-day time series, beginning with a CTD cast at dawn (6:00 a.m.). We will be making casts every six hours for 72 hours straight.

Francisco Chavez collects seawater samples from the Niskin bottles mounted on the CTD rosette.

Francisco Chavez collects seawater samples from the Niskin bottles mounted on the CTD rosette.

Although sometimes tedious, the prepping that takes place before this round-the clock schedule is crucial. The scientists must: 1) label all of the bottles and vials that will hold the seawater samples; 2) prepare all necessary solutions and treatments; 3) assemble the tools and instruments that are needed (e.g., filtration systems, sediment traps, syringes); and 4) keep everything organized in secure and easy-to-find locations for when we wake up bleary-eyed in a few hours.

Bottles and vials must be labeled in preparation for tomorrow’s casts.

Bottles and vials must be labeled in preparation for tomorrow’s casts.

So tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., it’s show time. The next three days are the true heart of the expedition, the reason we all boarded theWestern Flyer a week ago. As a newcomer, I feel slightly anxious about the nonstop work to come, but everyone else onboard seems to be holding their breath, too. No matter how many times they’ve done it, the night before is always a bit nerve-racking. But just like pro athletes whose pre-game jitters melt as soon as they take the field, the scientists will be in their element as soon as that first CTD is cast.

—Gabriela Chavez