Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Friday, 7 August 2015

Starting Out

By Sebastian Sims

My name is Sebastian Sims, and I have just finished my first year at the University of Southampton, studying MSci Marine Biology. Cruise DY034 is my first voyage out to sea, and I feel honoured to start my scientific career with the opportunity of joining RRS Discovery on a shelf sea biogeochemistry research cruise.

DY034 is the last cruise of the SBB series, and "This is an exciting time for the Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme as we finish the last of nine cruises aboard RRS Discovery" says Principle Scientist, Henry Ruhl.

RRS Discovery
"We'll mainly be conducting seafloor research, but also making measurements and taking samples in the overlying waters. The key use of these observations is to better characterise how seawater chemistry and other factors drive carbon cycling and storage, including the role of biology and ecology. In addition to using UK's most advanced research vessel, we've got robotic subs and other tools to hand that mark a real evolution in how we can observe and understand the seas around us."

I first set foot on the ship on 4th August, to receive some training as to the sampling I'll be doing. I work in WP1, and my role involves oxygen calibrations and processing for phytoplankton and other variables. Initially, this did feel like a lot to take in, but once I had practiced some of the essential skills, and after receiving some more training the next day, I began to feel a lot more confident.

Leaving Southampton
I boarded the ship for the voyage on the 5th. After seeing my cabin, I was surprised at the high quality of the cabin, and the food also surpassed my expectations. We also had a science meeting to plan additional details of our expedition, which gave me a good overview of the research happening on board, as well of the anticipated order of events.

Yesterday, the 6th of August, we had a presentation and tour about life on the ship with a focus on health and safety. Following this, there was another brief science meeting. Then at last, Discovery left berth 106 at around 7pm. A few of the scientists and I then made our way to the bow, where we spent quite a while outside enjoying the evening transit. I was particularly impressed by the departure of the pilot, and also the incredible view of the Needles and Alum Bay at sunset.

Sebastian Sims

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