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By Lucas King (Natural History Museum)

New Experiences

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.

ROV ISIS on James Cook JC241

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.

Fire Drill 

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.