OCB4005C: Student Blog - Javier Soler

Thoughts of my first research trip, generated mixed ideas. Some of pure excitement and some of just outright wonder for what steps lie ahead, after experiencing such a unique adventure. I didn’t always know that marine research would be the end all career path I sat with in life, but now after my time on the water it seems obvious to me now. You always run into situations with expectations, my expectations for the research trip were poised around uncertainty. How would I react to my time at sea…how would it be to even commit to scientific endeavors in such an unpredictable environment?

These assumptions quickly dissolve as your faced with the ship itself. Its none the less exciting as you take your first steps, the vessels size is quite off putting. Once boarded, the ship set off quickly and we were instantly gratified with the busy workload of conducting experiments at sea. It was exhilarating to say the least, but also strange in that it was different to be at sea doing such odd activities with wildlife that you would normally never see, especially alive in your hands. Once time ticked on and the first few nets were wrung up, we had already seen such a diverse set of species that the thoughts of oceanic bounty began to stir. Every catch my eyes lit up in curiosity of what came up next. It’s truly exciting because you gain an appreciation for the field itself, the uncertainty in what lies beneath us is what makes understanding it such a difficult task. Regardless of this, we have so many aspiring minds on this ship learning and digesting all the experiences of field work. I’d say it’s not made for everyone, but I’d be lying because it all depends on how much it fuels you to be out at sea with just some microscopes, a jug of ethanol, and a net full of wild creatures.

I can say that my perception of the sea floor was forever changed after this trip, the abundance of life could bring one to tears. From the microscopic organisms to the playful dolphins that follow the vessel for a gross number of miles, just to ride its waves for what looks like pure enjoyment. You see the ocean in a different way when you’re a lost within its vastness.

One thing that really stuck with me in particular were the smaller larval forms and tiny planktonic creatures. In particular we caught this glowing “flake” that just blew my mind to the nth degree, a miniscule crystal of a copepod called Copilia mirabilis just brushing the light with a rainbow reflection. Seeing something you’ve never seen, alive in your hands existing in a form that seems almost alien in nature is something I hope everyone can experience. The inspiration that brings to a mind is paramount in our endeavors to learnabout the ocean in the way that do. There is an outrageous amount of life existing in our seas, from the surface where billions of larval fish and crustaceans thrive amongst the flowing sargassum limbs, to the diverse array of fish, sharks, and even baby octopus that hang around the sea floor. Once you see it, the idea of it will follow you. I thank everyone for the time we had out there, and I can’t wait to see where our paths take us into this incredible field of research, I hope we can really make an impact in protecting what’s out there.



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