New Address: R/V POINT SUR

By: Justin Berg

With two feet firmly planted on land, I wondered what my first ever extended trip at sea was going to be like. I pondered the idea of being like Captain Jack from the Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the castaways in Giligan’s Island, or the very scary thought of the crew from the Perfect Storm; however, as time grew shorter and June 9th approached, I was ensured that I would be a standard researcher aboard R/V Point Sur. As I packed for life at sea, my curiosity heightened and it finally sank in that I will conduct research on the big, blue sea.

When we pulled into the port, I saw my new home for the week, R/V Point Sur. First came unpacking the bags in the bunk followed by unpacking the lab equipment. Ironically, everything was rather standard from what I expected. We configured the sediment coring station, we neatly tucked away all pipettes and loose goods, and saw BOTH beautiful MC800 multi-corer out on the deck. One of the things that I was surprised with was the necessity to tie everything down. While everything can lay dormant at the dock, life out at sea can be slightly more… unpredictable. Once everything was finished,  grabed a quick round of sushi at a local Gulfport restaurant. Bellies full, everything in place, we were at last able to have our safety briefing. For me, this was a reassuring moment that everyone was prepared and that there was no need to worry. With a positive vibe and nice weather, we waited to depart…

At 12:01 am on June 10, we took off into the Gulf of Mexico ready to conduct our research. As soon as our heads hit the pillow, everyone was vastly asleep ready to start fresh at our first site. Upon arrival at the Viosca Knoll Shipwreck, we conducted a CTD and multicore sampling to collect water and sediment to study microbial life associated with historic shipwrecks. For someone without sea legs, this was rather difficult as sea sickness started to take over. Nonetheless, processing CTD samples was an exciting first step into this exploitative field and aiding Rachel and Melissa with the multicorer was an exciting first group effort. Up to this point, this trip has passed my expectations and I can only hope the weather and sea stay as positive as the atmosphere on the boat. P.S. Who would have thought the first meal I ate on the boat was alligator!



Rachel Mugge and Melissa Brock, both MS students in USM’s Department of Coastal Sciences hard at work on the multi-core sampler.