OCB4005C: Student Blog - Eri-Ray Martinez

Having previously been on a research vessel myself, I had thought that I was prepared for another trip. As it turns out, I was wrong. Not only was I pleasantly surprised when I first went out to the bow of the Hogarth and saw the gorgeous view of the ocean ahead of us, but we were greeted by a welcoming committee of dolphins trailing our ship!

Upon arriving after a long drive to St. Petersburg, staring at the R.V. Hogarth finally got me to realize that I was going to spend a week doing research! The crew was friendly, and the ship’s cook genuinely made the best food I have EVER tasted.

Soon after the ship’s first dredge, I landed the most common gastropod I would see on the trip- an olive shell. Unremarkable by physical appearance and relatively dull in color, but each individual olive shell that I interacted with had so much character! The first few were a little more reserved, but as the days went by and we went further and further into the gulf, we started to land braver and braver olive shells until I met possibly the most nonchalant gastropod I have ever seen (pictured left). This olive shell had left its holding bin a good three or four times and would continue to explore even while on my hand! But the story of the brave olive shell wasn’t even the best part of the Hogarth’s dredges.

On one particular dredge on the second day, one of my peers handed me what I initially thought was a bivalve shell, but I then noticed that this “shell” was really slimy. It took me a brief moment, but I had landed what is possibly the strangest gastropod I had ever seen. This gastropod had completely rejected the idea of hiding in its shell for protection, and just let the shell on its dorsal region grow tiny. The main body of this animal was massive, especially when compared to the quaint shell that it carried on itself (below right). This creature, called an ear snail, is something I had never seen before, and seeing it made me even more excited for the next few dredges!

To say this trip was life-changing sounds cliché, I know, but I fully mean it! My research aboard the Hogarth made me realize that I have a real passion for research and that I really wanted to spend the rest of my life struggling with sea sickness on a boat… needless to say, the gastropods and everyone involved is what made this entire trip worth it. The long drive, the hours I spent in my bunk trying to keep myself from getting too seasick… it was all worth it, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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