6 Aug 2012

CCE LTER Cruise: Day 9, Leadership at Sea

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Written by Dana Lebental, Teacher at Sea

August 5- Day 9

I think about Leadership as a class that I took in graduate school. It is important to be a leader, yet not everyone can be a leader. Being at sea has redefined leadership for me, it has reemphasized the importance of having priorities in life and sticking to them.

Last night we did Transect-One down through what we are calling the “E” as in Eddy Front. Which consists of very intense sampling and everyone was assigned to collect data for one of the ten labs. We alternated between CTD, trace metal CTD and Bongo nets at 13 locations across the front. It was less than an hour between CTD casts, each going down 900 ft. When the CTD would return to the surface, there were eight different lab groups surrounding the CTD to collect samples. The sampling started at noon and did not end until noon the next day, it was a long ALL nighter. The scientists were under major pressure to gather the data in a short period of time.


The CTD being lowered into the water.

The trace metal group was outside deploying the CTD when the wire snapped. The CTD was connected to the winch, it was lifted from the boat, and moving over the rail, when the wire snapped. The two safety (tag) lines were still connected and luckily it was not completely over the side yet, so we didn’t lose the instrument. When it fell, it hit the side of the boat and broke a few panels.

Broken Boat

The side of boat that saved the CTD from tumbling over

Now there were many ways to handle to this situation, however on this ship, safety and science are the two priorities. The crew went into fast action to re-secure the CTD, since it was hanging off the ship. The side of the boat was fixed to ensure the safety of everyone on board. And, afterwards the CTD was re-connected to the winch and we tried it all over again.

Bad Wire

Manufacture error, was a near miss on the R/V Melville

The snapping of the wire set the transect back almost four hours.  The Primary Investigator, Dr. Mike Landry and Chief Scientist, Dr. Mark Ohman, knew that this CTD needed to be included in the data, and so they waited to include it.  It was amazing to see how calm the leaders of the ship were. This event could have been much scarier than it was. But because the team is amazingly good at what they do, it wasn’t. In the end, everyone was kept safe and the science was able to continue, and this is due to the great leaders on board our ship.

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