Clare Williams stands watch at the 12-kiloHertz echo-sounding
recorder in the Main Lab on RV Melville. The black line on the recorder tells her the depth of the seafloor.
Did you always know you wanted to be a scientist, even when you were
I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was young. I thought it would be so
wonderful to learn scuba diving, to be able to breathe underwater and see all
the animals living in the sea. When I was in my teens I became a certified diver
and had the unforgettable opportunity to dive with dolphins. In high school,
I took a class in plate tectonics, which I found fascinating and from then on
I became more interested in processes that shape the earth and its geology, particularly
|In Melvilles galley,
Clare does homework for her seminar class.
How did you manage to come to UCSB this year, and what are your main responsibilities
on board during this cruise?
I applied to the Education Abroad Program at the University of Leeds in the UK.
I had to be a good student to qualify, and I had to write a good essay about
why I wanted to go to UCSB. Im a watch stander on Rachels watch
team. I keep a log of the data we are collecting and make observations by watching
the computer monitors, which display all data and pictures sent up to the ship
from the instruments that we are towing near the seafloor. All of the notes and
data that I am recording will be used to make maps. I can't wait to help do this!
This has been a really incredible experience seeing all this detailed imagery
of the seafloor underneath us. It's almost like we are flying in a plane over
the seafloor topography with all the water drained out. I am amazed at how we
can see such fine-scale details in the records.
Is this your first time on a research cruise? Are you getting used to the daily
routine on board?
It is my first time doing science on a research ship and I love it! The main
reason I wanted to go to UCSB was to have a chance to participate on a marine
expedition. I am getting used to being up early but it took a few days to switch
over. For eight hours each day I stand watch. Six to eight hours a day I spend
sleeping in my cabin below the main deck (although I get the feeling that as
the cruise continues that we will have lots more to do, so Ill probably
be sleeping less). During the rest of the day I have homework to do for a seminar
class that is being taught at sea, and I help do whatever needs to be done to
help with the surveying. I also eat delicious meals in the mess hall. Its
terrific not having to cook or clean up after meals. The cooks out here really
do an incredible job feeding all 50 of us. I relax when I can by reading or going
out on deck to watch the beautiful sunsets.
proofreads the Dive and Discover Web site, which we also get to see
onboard RV Melville. It takes about 18 hours after we send
information back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before we
see the daily Web updates. You get to see them before we do.
What do you like most about being at sea?
I really enjoy meeting new people and learning new things every day. Also, being
on the water here in the tropical Pacific Ocean is fantastic. It is a gorgeous
dark blue. The marine life is also fun to see. Today I saw flying fish scoot
out of the water and sail many meters across the top of the sea surface. I guess
they were trying to keep from being lunch! I also saw a flock of tropical open-ocean
seabirds, called boobies, that swooped about and perched on the masts of the
What do you like least about being at sea?
I didnt like feeling seasick at first but now the rolling of the boat
doesnt bother me. I also love to exercise and even with all the bikes,
weights and stair-steppers out here, I know Im not getting as much exercise
as I am used to. I also dont like the feeling of not being able to see
the sunlight in my room. I am sleeping in a cabin below decks where there is
no sunlight. When I wake up, I don't know at first if it is day or night.
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