Interviews: Resident Marine Technician
Gene is always around helping make things easier for the scientists. Here he and Todd Ericksen terminate a wire. This involves making a loop on the end of the steel wire so that it can be easily attached to the dredge or deep sea camera.
What are your main responsibilities on board?
Im the Resident Marine Technician. I was hired by Scripps in 1981. My function is the main liaison between the ships crew and equipment and the scientific party. My job is to make sure they reach 100% of their scientific goals. Along with that Im the primary deck safety officer. Im in charge of all equipment deployments and recovery, as well as setting up the science labs with the proper equipment so that scientists can go home happy with all their science.
|Gene helps prepare the trawl wire for a pull test.
How did you get involved in this type of work?
Starting in 1976, I worked for three years as a marine technician for a biological firm that was doing a near-shore environmental impact study on a nuclear power plant in southern California. I also spent two years as a private consultant procuring small shrimplike crustaceans called mysids for bioassay. The Army Corps of Engineers had determined that studies on this and other indicator species could show how toxic materials and minerals affected the overall ecosystem and how much it would need to be diluted when introduced in the ocean.
What did you do in school?
I went to UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara) and graduated in biological sciences in 1973. I went to college thinking that I wanted to be a dentist. During my junior year I applied and got accepted to a couple of dental schools. One of my roommates had gone on to the UCLA dental school and I went down to visit. I spent a couple of days attending lectures and labs and meeting people, but for some reason it was a very bad experience. I learned dentistry was something I didnt really want to do.
What did you do then?
During my college career I worked as a beach lifeguard and as a favor for the district superintendent I took the two civil service position tests for the state department of parks and recreation: one for permanent lifeguard and one for lifeguard superintendent. Just out of the blue, I got hired as a permanent guard. It wasnt something I wanted to do but it gave me an opportunity to save money for a surf trip. But before I got to go on my surf trip to Costa Rica, I got hired as the lifeguard supervisor on the San Diego Coast beaches. I did that for a couple of years and at that time I also made some investments in some clothing and sandal lines and I started to do wholesaling and importing clothes from Australia and Bali. Thirty years later I finally made that surf trip during my last trip to Costa Rica.
|Gene gives important
safety lectures and explains how to use shipboard equipment
that everyone may not be familiar with. Here he shows the scientists
how a rock dredge works.
Where have you been surfing?
I started surfing when I was 14 in California.
Scripps has given me the opportunity to surf places many people never
have. Ive surfed Easter Island, Tahiti, Peru, Panama, Chile,
Australia and New Zealand. Ive even surfed the Galapagos before.
I ride a 91 Longboard and a 78 Thruster. I have
a 93 board on the Melville and several boards at home in Cardiff,
Calif., north of San Diego.
What kind experiences have you seen working for Scripps?
Well there are two extremes. The minimal trip
from my perspective would be a multibeam mapping survey where once
you get all the scientists buttoned in all they do is mow the lawn
back and forth with the ship to map the bottom. From 23 degrees North
to 23 degrees South latitude is the preferred place to do oceanography
- from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Thats the
tropics. Every night is a beautiful sunset and I cant believe they
pay me to do this job.
The other extreme is in the southern ocean anywhere between 45 degrees
South to 60 degrees South latitude - the roaring 40s. Its one of
the worse places to be with a ship, because you look at a map and
theres a huge fetch, thats the distance of a body of water that
wind can blow across. The longer the fetch the bigger and uglier the
waves become. A good day in the southern ocean is 10 to 15 foot swells
and only 20 to 30 knot winds. But weather can change rapidly and in
an hour we may have to recover a dredge with 40 to 45 knot winds with
horizontal sleet and the ship rolling 20 degrees. You just cant protect
enough of your body to keep it all warm. Youre wet, youre cold and
because the ship operates 24 hours a day its in the wee hours of
the morning when you think, wow, they just dont pay me enough to
do this job.
It's not always sunny weather on board.
Gene bundles up to keep off the sea spray as he helps recover the MR1 sonar.
is your family?
have a 13-year-old son named Jimmy who lives with his mom in Eugene,
Or. I also have a 5-year-old son, Alexander, who lives with his
mom, Carina Lange, and me in California. But were currently
in the process of moving to Chile. Carina is a researcher at Scripps
and has just been offered a professor position at the University
of Conception. Ill be getting off the ship at Easter Island
in December and meeting them there. So I guess Ill soon have an