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BSC4205: Student Blogs - Sarah Sisco

Embarking on this expedition, I was filled with excitement, wonder, and hope. There was nothing that could prepare me for the week I would actually have. If it weren’t for our amazing professors the trip would have been a total wash. Nonetheless, we set out Tuesday evening, expecting bad weather all week and concerned about what we would and would not be able to accomplish. Dr. BG and Dr. DeLeo were assuring but realistic; encouraging us to rethink our projects to accommodate the broader data sets we were more likely to collect. All of us worked hard and rose to the task. Everyone was able to revamp their project and was excited for what the next day would bring. Wednesday we rose early and had breakfast together, while the captain pulled up the anchor. We were heading for shallow, protected water in the hopes of being able to trawl. As we approached the site, we received the exciting news that we would be doing a deep-water trawl! After it was deployed, excitement and nausea hung in the air as the boat swayed side to side under the weight of the trawl. Finally, the moment of truth came. We pulled the trawl up, looked in the collection net and…nothing. Or what looked like nothing anyway. We had drifted into shallow water during the tow, which had greatly altered our target specimens and resulted in this naked looking net. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that all the effort and waiting had left us empty handed. The keen eye of our professors knew otherwise however. They quickly gave us the task of sorting the “catch”. As we began to poke around amazement started to fill the room as we discovered the abundant, minute life that was occupying our small dishes. This activity continued for hours despite multiple bouts of seasickness overtaking the crew. By the end, I felt empowered, as I was able to vastly expand my own current knowledge of marine taxa while being genuinely impressed by my classmates’ abilities. Reinvigorated by this experience, there was fresh hope that we would be able to continue sampling. However weather and circumstances had other plans for us. We returned to shallow waters and anchored for the remainder of the day. During this down time, I got to interact with my shipmates. I was pleased to discover that I was surrounded by a fun, accomplished group of ladies that were excellent company and inspiring to talk to. Our conversations will help to guide my future decisions and likely make me a more successful woman for it. The following days were difficult, as it seemed that we would simply be trapped on the boat the remainder of the time with nothing to do except pass the time. Being the creative women they are, Dr. BG and Dr. DeLeo saved us from this fate by taking us to islands to snorkel. The indigenous population of hobos was interesting enough but once again I found myself surprised by all the life we were able to find in this small area, with limited supplies, and no real idea as to what we wanted to collect. As we processed these samples on the ship, we all discovered the time-commitment and ambiguity involved in using a dichotomous key to properly identify a species. I feel that each experience on this cruise, while was not what I anticipated, has made me a better scientist and coworker and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.

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