OCB4005C: Student Blog - Taylor Poutre
I did not know about this class until Dr.BG told me about it while I was taking her invertebrate zoology class. When she told us that we were going to be conducting our own research and going on an actual research cruise, I knew that I had to take this course. I had no experience whatsoever on research or how to conduct it, so this class gave me a great insight into what was expected. With covid going on we were all very worried that we would not be able to participate in the research cruise, but we were lucky enough that we could actually go!
I was able to carpool with two of my classmate and woke up around 4:30 and left around 5 and traveled 4 hours to reach St. Petersburg. We were supposed to go on the R/V Weatherbird II, but we went on the R/V Hogarth instead which was smaller but still amazing to be on. Since we arrived at the dock early in the morning, after the briefing we were able to immediately start sampling. The first round of sampling was very chaotic since we did not know how it was going to go and were trying to figure it out as we went.
Our first cycle of trawls came back with the best organisms, it was an amazing way to start off the research cruise. Not long after that, we saw bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside the boat which was a thrilling experience I will never forget. During one of the night trawls, it was filled with shells, and hiding in the whole mess was a baby octopus which the best part of the whole trip for me because I’m obsessed with cephalopods. We continued the sampling around 7 in the morning till 9 at night which was fascinating to see everyone organism and project coming along. One morning we woke up around 2 am and we let out a bongo trawl and it came back with some interesting organisms, but I went to bed after because it was too early for me.
The crew on the ship were so nice and the food was the best I have ever had before. Every meal we were all looking forward to seeing what the chef cooked up! They provided all the snacks and sweets so there was no time where I was ever hungry.
The cruise was great but on the 3rd the waves pick up around 4-7-foot seas. Everyone got sick, but I was lucky and I never got sick. Unfortunately, the boat had no problem throwing me around and I ended up with bruises on my legs from running into trashcans, people, and doors. Even though the day was chaotic we were able to sample a few times but we mostly spent the day sleeping. At lunch, that day, one of my classmates ran inside to tell all of us that there were more dolphins outside. Of course, I stuffed my face before I ran outside and saw speckled dolphins. I have never seen them in my life and they were so graceful.
This research cruise was the best experience and I would go back if I could. I knew I wanted to be in the research field and this only solidified it more for me. I recommend everyone in the marine science field to take this class because it’s an enlightening experience that you only learn from. Seeing everyone's projects only made me want to get my Ph.D. and continue doing research and spread my passion to everyone who’s interested to learn.