Wrapping up

February 17-18, 2015

It’s 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon and we are getting close to La Paz, where the Chavez team will disembark. The first leg of the Gulf of California expedition has come to an end! The crew and the ship, however, will be continuing on to the next leg of the expedition with a new group of scientists, Bruce Robison’s team, in a few days.

(from left to right) Eric Fitzgerald, Erich Rienecker, and Martín Hernández recover the SeapHOx.

(from left to right) Eric Fitzgerald, Erich Rienecker, and Martín Hernández recover the SeapHOx.

Yesterday was our last day of casts and we had to recover Martín’s SeapHOx, as well as the second in situ incubator—another successful test of the team’s new method. It wasn’t exactly like the Mardi Gras celebrations taking place on the mainland, but there was still a feeling of celebration as we collected the water samples at dusk, our final cast of the expedition.

(from left to right) Jason Smith, Ryan Paerl, Gabriela Chavez, and Marguerite Blum get ready for the last cast of the expedition, bringing a bit of Mexican Carnival to the Western Flyer.

(from left to right) Jason Smith, Ryan Paerl, Gabriela Chavez, and Marguerite Blum get ready for the last cast of the expedition, bringing a bit of Mexican Carnival to the Western Flyer.

This morning, the focus shifted to packing up all of the scientists’ equipment—filters, bottles, machinery, basically the entire contents of the laboratory— in order to leave the space clean and ready for the Robison group. Although much of this equipment is expensive and must be handled with care, the truly precious items are the hundreds of tiny vials, only about one inch tall, that contain the samples we’ve collected over the past 12 days. These samples, the heart of the scientists’ research, had to be packed up and kept safely frozen until they make it back to the laboratories in California and, in Ryan Paerl’s case, Copenhagen.

Ryan Paerl collects samples in the tiny vials.

Ryan Paerl collects samples in the tiny vials.

These samples are what we came for. We went to sea to collect as much data as we could and now it’s time for the scientists to get back on dry land and see what all that data can tell them about the ocean’s biological and chemical processes. Although it was a lot of work for everyone, it’s still hard to believe how quickly our leg of the expedition came to an end. It was a true team effort to meet all of the trip’s objectives and it couldn’t have been done without the cooperation of everyone onboard, scientists and crew members alike. It was incredible to see each every one of them come together in the name of ocean research and I hope I was able to convey some of that experience to all of you. Thank you all for reading!

The team waits to disembark in La Paz. (back row, from left): Gernot Friederich, Erich Rienecker, Ryan Paerl, Jason Smith, Eric Fitzgerald, Monique Messié, Martín Hernández, Francisco Chavez. (front row, from left): Gabriela Chavez, Marguerite Blum, Tim Pennington, Karla Mejia.

The team waits to disembark in La Paz. (back row, from left): Gernot Friederich, Erich Rienecker, Ryan Paerl, Jason Smith, Eric Fitzgerald, Monique Messié, Martín Hernández, Francisco Chavez. (front row, from left): Gabriela Chavez, Marguerite Blum, Tim Pennington, Karla Mejia.

—Gabriela Chavez