When I decided to be a marine biologist at the age of 10, I knew it would involve playing with organisms that live in mud, but I did not anticipate Antarctica! Commonly known as comma shrimp, cumacean crustaceans are found throughout the world’s marine benthos, but not many people study them. Studying cumaceans has allowed me to travel to many places in the world, from above the Arctic circle in Norway to New Zealand, normally with plenty of time to prepare. In contrast, the process of joining this cruise was a whirlwind, with 3 days to prepare before starting the in-home quarantine process. Luckily, finding a microbe-sitter for my sourdough starter didn’t take long. Getting to San Francisco and starting the quarantine process was actually a relief, despite the covid testing. However, now I will be doing two things I have long wanted, but never expected: crossing the equator on a ship, and going to the Antarctic. I am looking forward to getting to know the other scientists on board, learning more about many other groups of invertebrates, and of course collecting many wonderful colorful cumaceans!
Dr. Sarah Gerken
University of Alaska Anchorage