Today is the final day of the cruise. The ship arrives in Gulfport, Mississippi around 7:45AM. The team awakes, eats a light breakfast, and begins packing. They gather up their personal items from their staterooms and begin loading boxes into the vans. While most of the leftover supplies and equipment were packed last night, many of the organisms were frozen at -80 C and now needs to remain frozen throughout the four-hour car ride back to Auburn, Alabama! In order to keep it cold, the researchers purchase a large amount of dry ice. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2, is the same substance that makes soda pop fizz when it is first opened. When frozen, it looks like a white clump of ice with huge amounts of steam rolling off of it. It is commonly used to transfer foods from their original sites to grocery stores. The team spends the next hour packing and loading their previously frozen materials in dry ice, eats a quick lunch and departs.
There is a mixture of excitement and sadness as the team arrives home. Many are sad to see the short trip end! However, the team is pleased with the amount of specimens they collected and are looking forward to continuing their research on the tubeworms.