Written by Hilary Kates-Varghese, UNH graduate student in Oceanography.

There were two goals the Chief Scientist stated to us at the beginning of the cruise 1-get the science done and 2-have fun. I think we have successfully met those goals.

Today sort of has the feel of the last day of summer camp. Three and a half weeks ago, I remember walking around the lab, and no one was hanging out, everyone scattered to their rooms when they didn’t have a formal assignment. Now, everyone is in the lab, reminiscing about this cruise and excitedly discussing plans for the next one. At this point, we have finished all the field work for this cruise and are systematically compiling all the data--crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.

The night time crew is awake finishing up classifying and processing their critters. The daytime time crew is sorting through the two weeks of data we pulled up from the Virginia Canyon site, verifying that the instrumentation was set up correctly and throwing high-five’s that it was! Everyone is looking through their photos and videos of the last month’s activities. There is even talk of making an epic 12 month calendar and much debate about how many pictures the daytime versus the night time crew gets to contribute to it.

It's an interesting feeling as we turn our bow North and head home. A month out on the ocean, and you really start to get into a routine. For me at least, it felt very easy to forget about my responsibilities at home: paying the bills, tending to my coursework, buying groceries-- cooking. And though I think some people were able to get internet on their phones to IM loved ones instantaneously, I think it’s safe to say, that there is a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world when you are out on the open ocean. This feeling could manifest into loneliness or even peacefulness depending on the moment. Now those thoughts of “normal life” come rushing back as the distance to home gets shorter and shorter. The feeling of excitement to see our families smashes into the lack of enthusiasm to get back to the responsibilities we had escaped.

I have to say that one of the biggest surprises to me, and something I was not expecting to feel, is how grateful I am to the crew who do this month after month to make research at sea possible. It definitely takes a strong person to work at sea for 8 months out of the year. And the crew on this vessel is stellar. So thank you to the R/V Armstrong crew for helping us 1-get the science done and 2-have fun.

sunset on the ocean heading home