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Shifty People

By Diana Udel

Shifty People

By Diana Udel
Provided by Andrew Margolin, Ph.D. student in the Department of Ocean Sciences

We’ve now been at sea for around two weeks, which means we’ve had that time to get used to our schedules (or for some of us, lack of schedules). Sampling and analysis at sea goes around the clock, with some people working opposite shifts (e.g., noon to midnight and midnight to noon) so there is always someone from each group working in the labs.

In the carbon group, our shifts are staggered so that at least one of us is available for sampling and analysis at all times – day or night. Our shifts are 12 hours long, but the shifts sometimes begin early or end late if we happen to be backlogged and are continuing to sample (sampling never ends on this cruise). My shift begins at 8 in the evening and ends at 8 in the morning, which is the shift that I elected to take. You might think I’m crazy for choosing that shift, but there are a number of reasons why I think it’s the best shift.

Over the past couple years, I’ve debated with many people about which shift is the best, and for me, breakfast is where it’s at. I’ve heard the argument that breakfast is always the same, but breakfast is always great, so I have no problem with having something consistently great. Working a shift that skips breakfast but includes lunch and dinner means you get more variety (like tasty burgers, fish tacos and salad while it lasts), but while those meals are oftentimes a hit, they have the most potential to be a miss. Breakfast on the other hand, is always amazing. For me, there’s nothing better than stepping out of the carbon van at 6 in the morning and catching a whiff of bacon and eggs being cooked in the galley. In addition to that smell telling me that breakfast is right around the corner, it tells me that my shift is almost over, and to me, there’s nothing better than that.

I also get sunrise and sunset during my shift, which is undeniably great. On August 15th, I caught the sun rising over Nome, Alaska, and just yesterday on the 19th I got to watch the sunset morph into a sunrise over about five hours during my shift.

I think that animals tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, so I also get to see the Arctic wildlife (but I think everyone on board will get the chance to see a variety of animals during this cruise). I briefly saw a humpback whale towards the end of the first cast of the first station on Aug. 12th, walruses welcoming us to the marginal ice zone on Aug. 18th, and late on the 19th I saw a polar bear from a distance (while others saw two).

We are currently at the second Full station of the cruise (first in the Arctic at 76.5°N, 173°W), and will be continuing northward to some CLIVAR Repeat Hydrography stations later in the day (view station map from And so it begins for reference).

Well that’s it for this week! I’ll try to write one science/cruise post and a life at sea post for you next week! More photos and great stories to come!

–Andrew Margolin

Andrew Margolin is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry in the Department of Ocean Sciences (OCE) as a National Science Foundation (NSFGraduate Research Fellow.