Submitted by A.Gates on
Blog tags

a picture of the authorMy name is Anthony Lucio, and I am a senior research engineer in the ocean technology and engineering group at the NOC in Southampton, UK. I am working on the development of sensors to study the ocean carbonate system. I am an early career researcher and an early career ocean scientist.

I have joined research cruise JC263 on the RRS James Cook to PAP to help with the dissolved oxygen (DO) measurements. I am undertaking this work within the Pelagic team. I have never done the Winkler DO titration before but as an experienced chemist I was able to pick up the work quickly. It is very rewarding to know that I am helping collect data that feeds into a much larger and longer data series that NOC have been doing for decades.

Ship departs port
RRS James Cook leaving port. Image credit: AJL.

My main job within the Pelagic team is collecting the DO samples from the CTD frame after casting and then analysing them in the chemistry lab using a coulometric titrator specific to measuring DO. The sampling is done first from the CTD casts and can get very wet and wild on deck, especially during big swells. After collection the samples are mixed with reagents to initiate the reaction, and this involves a lot of sample shaking to ensure the reagents mix properly. We have put together a music playlist with songs relevant to shaking to have a bit of fun – Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is a favourite. Once the samples are ready, we can analyse them on the titrator in the chemistry lab on board the ship. We are processing dozens of samples throughout this research cruise. Our team are also helping to collect alkalinity, nutrient, and salinity samples from the CTDs. We spotted two pilot whales on our second day of CTD sampling and although we only saw the fins it was still a fun first experience for me. While on deck sampling, the waves keep capturing my eye. The gentle rolling giants and swells are a new experience for me, and it really shows the power of the ocean moving about our research vessel.


Deployment of a CTD rosette, a piece of oceanographic equipment
Members of NMF team bringing in CTD for sampling. Image credit: AJL.

My first two days at sea were pleasant and the seas were calm, which made for a nice introduction to ship life. The next two days brought decent waves that rocked the boat and helped me develop my sea legs. I have been very fortunate to not have experienced seasickness and I keep my fingers crossed it stays that way!

I am an avid runner and I have found running a 5k at sea to require a few adjustments to my stride. It is akin to trail running where you really need to be aware of your foot placement. I made good use of the treadmill on board in the gym and cranked my favourite tunes to keep up the energy, which is especially needed when running at 5 am.

Everyday life is also quite good on board the ship. Waking up at 3:45 am is not too challenging once adjusted to the shift schedule. There are great facilities for socialising and there is a real sense of team spirit from everyone on board. The food is fantastic, especially as a vegetarian, and the chefs provide three cooked well-rounded meals. I will likely return home more rounded as well. Overall, my first cruise experience is going well and I look forward to future opportunities.

Anthony Lucio