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Sampling in the Oxygen Deficient Zone off Mexico

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

By: Darcy Perin


Of my entire college experience thus far, I have never pulled “an all nighter” to cram last minute for an exam or finish a big report. However, once we reached our first station and started sampling full time in the ODZ I found myself staying awake for a full 36 hours. I have never felt more exhausted, but at the same time strangely invigorated. I am finally able to see and understand how research is conducted in the field, and all though the process has been described to me countless times, it is nothing like I could have ever imagined. It is truly so humbling to be able to be a part of this research team and learn from the fellow scientists on board. I was told before we departed that this trip will determine whether or not I will want to continue pursuing and conducting oceanographic research, and I have never been more sure that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

In terms of location, we are currently at our 7th station, and tomorrow we will transit to our eighth and final station within the ODZ. I have sampled 50 out of my 80 noble gas samples so far, and the remaining 30 will be sampled when we begin to transit back to San Diego. I feel as though I have become an expert in collecting dissolved gas samples, and I can also say with complete seriousness that I utterly despise bubbles.

Normally, I am one of those people who gets overly excited about Christmas. Each year, I count down the days, even hours until Christmas, but this year I woke up at 2am to begin sampling and I didn’t realize what day it was until we went to breakfast, and I saw the cook, Randall, wearing a Santa hat. Christmas was certainly different this year, and most of it was spent working, but it is a day I won’t soon forget. The food that day was probably some of the best we’ve had so far, even though the food is amazing every day. The cooks really seem to spoil us. Is it normal to have eggs benedict on a research cruise?

In terms of animal sightings, for a few days all we saw were jellyfish, and a few squid here and there, but during one of our late-night casts, we were surprised to see not only half a dozen little sharks circling the CTD, but a sea turtle too!

In other news, today marks two weeks since we boarded the Sally Ride, and that means we are finally able to take off our facemasks! We have also not encountered any foul weather since being onboard. It has been very hot during the day, which can make sampling a bit more strenuous, but the ocean has stayed very calm.

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