Research Journal…. The Nautilus

My time on the Nautilus was very brief but wonderful it was a nice change from the island life. I had been on Eleuthera for six months and was ending the semester with a need for a change. When I got on the boat, I was amazed at the wood paneling and the team atmosphere. I was going to be part of this team. I received a t-shirt and my bunk within minutes and got a world wind of a tour from Emily Ballard.  She knew this boat like the back of her hand, the ins and outs of every hallway. I was terrified. How did I get on this boat?

My link to my bio on the website.

Luckily there were a few people that were as new to this world as me.  I later met my bunkmate who had come from Wales in England. She had wonderful red hair, and her skin was so fair that she turned red from the heat. She was delightful. She wanted to tell the world that how important the oceans were. I appreciated that about her and loved how she would take every token of knowledge as a present.

I was originally only supposed to be on the ship for six days but extended my stay to ten. The first dive was the most nervous I had been in a long time.  I was given a watch time, four to eight. There are three watches, so there are always people on watch 24 hours a day. My first watch was four am to eight am. I was sat in front of dozens of the screen. PhDs and experts in their field surrounded me, and here I was sitting in the corner with only my undergrad. I had an undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley, but it had no magnitude in comparison. I sat there in the “control van,” the main control center where the pilots, engineers, scientist all sit and watch the dive. I had a back round in biology and had only just learned a few species identifications from the small-scale trapping project I was working on. I explained to the viewer and the rest of the crew as the “biologist from the Bahamas.” At this point I had only seen the creatures that could live in these environments, I was so excited to see them in their natural habitat. I had always pictured that world as black and white, and muddy sediment, not much else. This was like opening my eyes for the first time to the sea world.

I typed everything I saw, from shrimp to coral to boulders. I made notes of every moment of the dive. Trying to capture each second with my fingertips. I was in charge of taking still photos and taking notes. I had to take handwritten sample notes as well as type up notes. Once the dive was done, I had to type up the dive log and exactly what had happened. Recording from the issues with the ROVs to species and rock formations that I saw.  I had none of the correct terms or had learned anything about geology and multi-beam mapping. I not only had just to type what I saw but also talk about it. I had to explain things that I had minimal experience and knowledge to the whole world.

I remember my first dive, was in the Florida Straits. I was so nervous. I thought I had to identify everything, but all they wanted someone there to work hard and listen and be able to communicate. I was paired up with the lead scientist; she told me to focus on pictures. My shift started when at the begging of a dive, they had just reached the bottom. I had no idea what to expect. How the camera quality would be, what creatures that I would be able to see and identify. I took a deep breath and sat down for my first watch. I sat there transfixed on the screen. I was amazed how much geological features made up the seafloor. We were in 700 meters of water the corals were amazing colors, and eels covered the seafloor.

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