After two days of Marine Offshore Survival Training and logistics planning, I am heading North to Prudhoe Bay to board the R/V Norseman II for an 8-day research cruise. Our ship, a converted 115ft fishing vessel, will be loaded to the gills with science equipment! The ship will carry 16 scientists and 11 crew. We will travel about 15km offshore in the Beaufort Sea, going East almost to the Canadian border, before looping back into deeper waters to return to Prudhoe. Along the way, we will stop at 40 pre-determined sampling stations to conduct our research. Some stations may be difficult to reach if they are still covered by sea ice.
The scientists onboard are from all over the country and will be studying all aspects of the Beaufort Sea from the physical characteristics of sea water, to contaminants in sediments, to the large consumers like fish. The UT Austin crew will be studying the chemistry and biology of the benthos (seafloor). Our crew consists of Christina Bonsell (a grad student), Susan Schonberg (an expert taxonomist), and myself. Because we only have a 3-person team and the ship operates 24 hour a day, we will each work a 16-hour shift! That we always have two people on deck at all times. My shift is from 4pm to 8am! Since the sun won’t set this far north in early August there will still be plenty of day light on the deck. The biggest consequence this shift will have for me is eating dinner for breakfast every day!
This is my first multi-day research cruise and I am extremely excited to get underway!
You can follow our progress and view the daily movements of the Norseman II here!