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Daily Cruise Journals


October 6, 2009

The R/V Seward Johnson

7:00 AM- Auburn Research team assembles on the Auburn University campus to load cars for the trip.

1:00 PM- They arrive in Gulf Port, Mississippi.

1:30 PM- They unload all materials into the on-board lab.

3:30 PM- Last minute trip to the store for any needed supplies.

5:30 PM- The team meets for a pizza dinner on-board the ship.

6:10 PM- Ship departs Gulfport, Mississippi for their 9-hour trip.

7:20 PM- Safety/Submersible briefings


Port of Gulfport, Mississippi


79 F / 26 C

Wind Speed:

Slight breeze

Sky Conditions:



While most people are still asleep in their beds, the Auburn Research Crew awakes before the sun rises to begin their trek to the Gulf of Mexico. The crew assembles at 7:00AM and everyone begins loading. One hour later, cars full of supplies, materials, luggage, and researchers depart Auburn, Alabama.

Four hours later the team arrives at the port in Gulfport, Mississippi. The R/V Seward Johnson arrived earlier this afternoon, and is ready to be loaded. The research ship is equipped with many features including the Johnson Sea-Link II (human occupied submersible), two laboratory rooms, and cold room! However, this ship is used by scientists all over the world for different purposes. Therefore, all of its laboratory spaces are empty. The research crew had to bring everything they will need for the week with them today. By 6:00PM, an entire science lab needs to be setup and everything must be tied down with bungee cords to prevent materials from falling when the ship sets sail! Immediately, the research team begins transferring boxes from vans into the lab. A team of undergraduate students unloads basic supplies into drawers while the graduate students set up the equipment including printers, RNA equipment, dissecting scopes, light microscopes, etc.

The team is quick, efficient, and well-prepared. Everyone has a job and only one brief trip to the store is necessary for the entire lab to be set up! Next on the agenda is dinner. The researchers are starving after unloading all of their supplies onto the ship! A warm pizza dinner certainly hits the spot! Soon after, the ship sets sail! The entire research team heads to the deck to see the spectacular sunset complete with dolphins! Most of the team decides to stick around outside as it is a beautiful evening, with calm waves, and only a slight breeze.

However, sunset is not an excuse for the day to be over! In fact, this ship will be functioning, at least partially, 24 hours per day! So, after a long day of traveling and unpacking, the entire team attends a safety meeting. The team meets the captain of the vessel and learns how to be safe on the ship. Everyone tries out their personal flotation devices (PFDs), locates the muster station, and one student from Bowdoin University even tries on a flotation suit!

Now the night air has fully set in. Everyone looked thoroughly exhausted from the happenings of the day. However, many enjoy ice cream from the 'never-ending ice cream machine' before headin' to bed!

Lab on the R/V Seward Johnson