Finally at the Beginning
Today is the day our journey begins. Just typing these six words brings a smile to my face and makes me resist the urge to do a happy (and very uncoordinated) dance in the dry lab on the boat. After arriving in New Zealand on March 1st, being delayed multiple times, moving hotels and staying as isolated from other people as much as physically possible, and being tested for covid seven times (not counting the times we chose to test ourselves out of an abundance of caution or if we had any of the slightest concerns like a headache or allergies) at the CDC in New Zealand, we were finally able to get on the boat, set up our labs and yesterday the Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP) embarked from port! Due to weather concerns, we stayed puttering around Pegasus Bay in New Zealand overnight with the goal of leaving this afternoon. Even though we all knew we were staying around the bay, there was a distinct shift in morale and an air of excitement when we pulled away from the dock. We have all been waiting a very long time for this research expedition. Many of us got the paperwork for the PQ (physically qualified) process in August 2022, and began to make appointments with our doctors and dentists as soon as possible. Then, with the delays to get on the NBP, it was starting to feel like we would never get to Antarctica. Leaving the port and being out on the ocean, seems to have given everyone on the science teams a boost of serotonin and lightened the overall atmosphere on the boat. To top it off, we saw a beautiful rainbow right after leaving port yesterday!
We will have seven days of transit until we reach our first sampling site. In the upcoming days, about half of the science team will start to transition our sleep schedules. There are two shifts we can work, the day shift (noon-midnight) and the night shift (midnight-noon). Those of us working the night shift will start trying to wake up earlier and earlier until we are waking up in the evening. For example, I am assigned to the night shift, so I will start trying to wake up around 10:30 PM and go to sleep around 2:30PM the next day. Many of us are also trying to finish some of our work that requires internet while we still have it available.
We are one step closer to getting to Antarctica and being able to do our science. Personally, I am ecstatic to being one step closer to getting my hands on the Pycnogonids (sea spiders), as well as seeing and learning more about all the amazing invertebrates that inhabit the benthos.
I think I speak for everyone when I say we are all ecstatic to finally be at the beginning of our journey to Antarctica!
Central Michigan University
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