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August 21, 2012, Tuesday Blog

Weather has been perfect for sampling for past 36 hours. We have sampled the Texas coast from Sabine to Matagorda. Currently, we are heading northeast, at 25 knots, to the mouth of the Brazos River. Three stations to go, then into Galveston for demobilization. No hypoxia in Texas waters, no stratification to speak of either.

Steven DiMarco aboard the R/V Manta
When all is over, we will have covered close to 1400 nautical miles of track in six days aboard the Mighty Manta. We have completed 75 stations, 17 more than the 58 planned stations, and towed the Acrobat profiler 16 times. An amazing distance and incredible amount of observations. The ship’s crew is excellent; their dedication and professionalism have made the success of this trip possible.

Over the course of the six days, the science crew has become a well-oiled machine. Arriving on station, the students and scientists have established an efficient routine to deploy instrumentation, collect samples, reset for the next station, and transit to the next station.

It is a great experience when everyone is committed and in sync. It is not easy when you are sleep deprived, tired, stinky, and nauseous, and you hear the words “Chains are up, one hour to the next station”. For this I am very thankful for the science team and ship crew.

The mystery of the coastal current. Every ship I have been on returns to port faster than when it leaves at the beginning of the trip. Usually I’ll be up on the bridge on the way home and remark something like “Wow, we’re making good time back to the dock.” The Captain will usually remark “Well, we’re picking up that coastal current and we’re getting an extra knot or two.” We both know however that going back to port and seeing loved ones again, after being away a week, makes everyone apply a little more pressure to the gas pedal.

Thanks to the science and ship crew and thank you for following us on the blog. A cruise report will be posted soon to the main website: hypoxia.tamu.edu.

Steve DiMarco, Chief Scientist

Work goes on night and day - Allyson Burgess Lucchese filling water bottles on her birthday.

Survey 6 is coming to a close! It’s been a fun week. I think I have finally mastered what it takes to make cruises seasick-free, and that’s definitely something I can be proud of. Some good things we got to see were some beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and amazingly clear blue waters. I got a surprise birthday cookie cake from the crew of the Manta(delicious!) and we got to do some man-overboard exercises yesterday, which is always fun. Got stung a little bit, but overall, it was worth the annoyance. We did get stuck in some seriously scary storms though. One thing I do not want to experience again is looking out the window and only seeing the ocean and not the sky. The rocking made lunch a sport to see who could keep upright and not fall into a plate full of food.

Research-wise, I didn’t get to see a lot of variety in the samples we took. Still lots of diatoms and dinoflagellates, which is interesting. Admittedly, there were lots of screams of frustration and threats to throw PAM overboard (she doesn’t like bottom samples very much). But we survived another cruise, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. The night shift is always tricky, especially with a cruise so short, it’s hard to keep to a schedule. But it was fun having Laura around, and Matt and Eddie always keep things fun. I’m looking forward to the next trip out to the Gulf but more than anything right now, all I want is a good long shower and to sleep in my own bed (for more than 2 hours at a time!).

So long, science warriors! Thanks and gig ‘em.
Allyson Burgess Lucchese

 

The final day of my fourth and last Hypoxia cruise is almost over. It’s been fun, and I’m sad it’s over. Just two more stations and then back to shore to pack everything up and bring it back to College Station. We stopped the boat last night to watch the amazing sunset and look for the green flash, but none of us saw it this time. As far as my research, I have filtered about 15 stations more than last year, which will give better data coverage. Good weather definitely helped. My instruments all ran well, so overall I’d say it was a very successful cruise.
Emma Cochran

 

Well, today marks the end of this year’s scientific journey together.  It has been a lot of fun and very interesting in many ways. Until next year when some old salts will return and some new faces will appear to join our band in the pursuit of science, be well.
Andrew Dancer

 

Last station!  And with that we complete Hypoxia Study 2012 MS06.  Overall, the weather has been fantastic with sea conditions very favorable to conducting science.  The Manta crew and vessel have performed to a high level of proficiency and I am proud to serve with them.  The science party has been a great team to work with.  We have been able to cover over 1200 nautical miles and add extra stations to the study area.  This is only possible when everyone works together and the teamwork has been fantastic.  Thanks for letting Captain Mike and me be a part of this important study and we are looking forward to next years mission.
Captain Darrell Walker
R/V Manta

 

As much fun as this past week has been on the boat, I am ready to get back home to my normal sleeping hours. The night shift is harder than I thought. However, I don’t think I’ve ever slept as well as I have on this boat, even with the crazy rocking. And I did get to experience some really beautiful sunrises every morning. Also, I am proud to say I never got sea sick.. I didn’t really feel good on the first day.. but I didn’t get sick! Woo! I even made it puke free through the roughest part of the journey. On a sad note, I didn’t really see what I wanted to see in my samples.. so that’s sad. I was hoping to see lots of Karenia brevisafter the fish kill last week but I never found any :[ but I guess the fact that we didn’t see any could be interesting too.. where did they go?!

Chris Shank and Laura Harred sampling water from CTD. Chris is a temporary Aggie sailing from University of Texas Austin Marine Institute.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and ate amazing food but I’m ready to be sleeping in my own bed. Ps. I am seriously dreading offloading all of my stuff when we get back to Galveston.
Laura Harred

 

I have used every one of my sample bottles and a few extra I found lying around, so it must be time to head home.  I must say my Aggie hosts could not have been more welcoming, the crew was fantastic, and the cruise was a huge success!  Special thanks to Steve DiMarco for allowing me to join the cruise and I look forward to our continued collaborations in the future.
Chris Shank
University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute

Last day!  Heading back to the lovely Galveston shores as we speak.  Last day held quite a few suprises.  We practiced man overboard drills, including a little swim call.  The best part was taking Laura under the boat to see the catamaran.  A little Jack (fish) came to check us out and was scared away by the screaming girls.  It was hilarious coming back to boat and everyone wondering how big the shark was we saw.  Water was great – visibility was about 15m and crystal blue.  Today, we each tested our driving skills.  Most of us passed …. If the test doesn’t involve driving in a straight line!  The rest of the way back to shore is a dance party.   Requests have been for REM to Beyonce to Carly Rae Jepson to Kelis to Bruce Springsteen (definitely all ages and tastes)

Ruth Mullins-Perry at the mouth of the Brazos River, her dissertation study area.

On the science side ….
We tracked the Brazos River and added a few stations to follow the freshwater.  There was a decrease in salinity and definitely color change, but no hypoxia.  We even traveled close to shore and sampled in about 3 – 4 m of water.  Shout out to the amazing R/V Manta crew and this awesome boat, which allows us to take samples practically anywhere we need. There have been interesting fluorescence signals in the lower water column along the Texas shelf.  Stayed tuned to read more about this phenomena as the data is processed.

Thanks for following us on the blog  and hope you enjoyed learning about life at sea and coastal oceanography in the Gulf of Mexico.  Check hypoxia.tamu.edu to follow along with the data reports as samples are analyzed and official cruise reports are published.  Until next time Hypoxia Science Warriors (as Captain Darrell would say)

Ruth