By Lucas King (Natural History Museum)
The opportunity to work on the RRS James Cook came as a huge surprise. With only two weeks to arrange a medical and sea survival training course, I knew that it was going to be a frantic effort to make all of the arrangements. It was a close call; my training was only three days before we left. Thankfully, everything went well, and I am now embarking on a deep-sea cruise - a childhood dream come true.
The 10-day transit from Costa Rica to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, where we will conduct our studies, was a great opportunity to get to know my fellow seafarers. As I soon learned, research expeditions are a fascinating concoction of different people. Scientists, engineers, filmmakers, and crewmates all living and working together to further our understanding of a notoriously understudied environment. As an aspiring scientist, being surrounded by all of these intelligent and successful individuals is a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and make long-lasting friendships.
I will also have the pleasure of working with the ROV to collect deep-sea animals for analysis. During the ROV meeting, the technicians showed us a modified gaming controller that is used to control one of the cameras. I have only ever seen the product of ROV work on TV and films. Being able to directly work with one is such a great opportunity, and I can’t wait to see it in action.
The ROV, Isis, is equipped with multiple cameras, powerful lights, a slurp gun, and a robotic arm.
In addition to the immense amount of learning to be done, this cruise also offers me my first glimpse of life at sea. So far, I am really enjoying my time at sea and feel incredibly lucky to be here. I have managed to avoid seasickness for the time being, and hope to do so for the remainder of the trip.
During one of the weekly fire drills, we all had a turn shooting the fire hose.
I have been assured by colleagues that the RRS James Cook is a rather luxurious experience. Having never worked on a ship before, I have no frame of reference.
Despite this, even I am able to appreciate the delicious meals and spacious cabins onboard. The James Cook is also home to two gyms and a sauna. Before my arrival, I had never had the pleasure of a sauna experience. Now that I have, I fear that I may miss it when I am home. If I ever have the opportunity to attend a cruise on a different vessel, I imagine I would get a confused look if I asked, “where is the sauna?”
So far, I have had many new experiences on the James Cook, both personal and professional, and I look forward to having many more.