By Darcy Perin
The past week has gone by so quickly. On New Year’s Eve day, we began our transit back to San Diego. After a high-intensity week of little to no sleep and dozens upon dozens of CTD casts, it is nice to have a small break. We will be stopping briefly at three more stations as we travel north, and at these stations I will collect my last 30 noble gas samples. I will also be collecting a few other dissolved gas samples, so that they can be compared to ones collected within the oxygen deficient zone. After being on the boat for two weeks, the captain was finally granted permission by UC San Diego to allow us to remove our face masks. It was a bit of an unusual feeling to be able to walk around without masks, especially since we had been wearing them 24/7. It felt wrong not to be wearing one, however, it is so nice to be able to see everyone’s faces. Because the mask restrictions were lifted, we are now able to go into the lounge area and watch movies and play games with the crew during transit. There is also no longer a room capacity limit, so the crew has been able to take us on tours of the engine rooms, and the winch operation area.
Due to the fact that the next three stations are no longer in the oxygen depletion zone some other scientists have begun packing up their lab equipment which I am finding quite sad. I think we all wish we could stay longer. On a happier note, New Year’s Eve, was also quite a fun time on board. I was barely able to stay awake until midnight, but the crew let us join in on their pinata and we had a small party.
The new year started off with a bang because on New Year’s Day we had a huge pod of dolphins swimming in front of the ship. The dolphins have to be my favorite charismatic megafauna sighting of the whole trip!