What a team – the scientists of Discovery cruise 031

by Penny Holliday

An oceanographic cruise is huge team effort. The Extended Ellett Line, a cruise-based programme running for 40 years now, is made up of 85 cruises (including this one) and over 1300 days at sea (that’s more than three and a half years in all…). Each cruise involves many people. There are 48 people on RRS Discovery at the moment, and although in the early years of the EEL the ships were smaller and held fewer crew, when you consider the number of people on cruises you can see that the data we are using for our research is the result of the work of hundreds of individuals over the years. If you include the support staff in the labs at home (scientists, engineers, technicians, administrators) the crowd of contributors is even higher.

Now having worked though the numbers, it now seems a little exclusive to focus on the small party of scientists here on Discovery at the moment, but we’ve got to start somewhere! So in this post I will introduce you to the staff and students that make up the well-oiled machine that is the science team of Discovery cruise 31. As I write this post I have only just realised that we have more women than men in the science team; what a difference from my first cruise in 1993 when I was one of only two or three women on the ship. I’ve posted our mugshots here; we collected these at the start of the cruise and stuck them up on strategically placed noticeboards to help everyone get to know who we are.

I’ll start with Team Carbon; these chemists are Lesley Salt from Roscoff in France, Nikki Clargo a student at NIOZ in the Netherlands, and Katerina Giamalaki and Caroline Mengeot who are both students at NOC. Caroline Kivimae, from NOC, is also working in the carbonate chemistry team, while also being half of Team Oxygen with Rich Abell from SAMS.

Caroline and Rich are being helped in the time-consuming task of taking of oxygen samples from the CTD by the physics team. They are Stefan Gary and Karen Wilson who are both from SAMS, Geoff Stanley who is a PhD student at Oxford University, Eoghan Daly an undergrad from NUI Galway, and Hayley Mills who works at the British Oceanographic Data Centre. We are missing our sixth member of the physics team, Elizabeth Comer, who was unlucky enough to miss the cruise because of ill health – Liz, we hope you are feeling better!

Today we co-opted Natalia Serpetti to help the physics team with sampling during the day. Natalia is here as part of the benthic biology team, along with Peter Lamont and Dave Hughes – all are from SAMS. We have two NOC students collecting phytoplankton samples; Steph Allen and Paris Mudan. Last, but not least, Tim Brand (our lead chemist) is in charge of nutrient measurements (helped by Katerina), and Emily Hill is collecting samples to measure trace metals in seawater.

Our team is a mixture of experienced and novice seagoers and I’m very pleased to say that all have settled extremely well into our roles and tasks. There is an air of calm efficiency throughout the lab space on the ship and thankfully we have not yet suffered any major instrument crises to test that calmness. Regular CTDs and a steady supply of chocolate and sweets seems to be keeping most of the scientists happy for now. Let’s hope it lasts!

NOC is the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton http://noc.ac.uk SAMS is the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences http://sams.ac.uk

Photos by Geoff Stanley


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