By Kelsey Archer Barnhill
The iMirabilis2 expedition has always had capacity building and outreach at the centre of its goals. This blog and website are two of the outputs created to help share the science we conduct at sea. Throughout the cruise we also ran a smaller, personalised programme called the ‘ship-to-shore buddies scheme.’ Through this program, iAtlantic fellows and other associated early career researchers were given an insider’s look at life on a cruise. This group of 18 onshore buddies were paired with the early career researchers on board to stay up to date on the happenings on the Sarmiento de Gamboa. Onshore and offshore buddies created a WhatsApp group to share daily updates and communicate informally during the cruise. There were also weekly zoom calls on Thursdays (see photo, right) for the buddies to get live access on board for one hour. Each week a training video would be shown on the call and any questions were answered. A piece of kit or a research technique was then explained in detail after which a discussion occurred. The on shore buddies got to connect with myself each week along with appearances from Bea Vinha, Daniëlle de Jonge, Alycia Smith, Richard Austin-Berry, and Eoin O’Hobáin.
Everyone on board had a great time connecting with the onshore buddies. It was exciting to share updates to the group and be met with enthusiastic responses. The zoom talks were engaging and some questions meant I spent 30 minutes finding out an answer for a buddy the next day. We wanted to focus on some of the on shore buddies who joined the scheme in this blog post by having them share a bit about themselves and how they found their experience in the scheme.
Daniela Yepes Gaurisas
I am a Colombian deep-sea lover with a great interest in the taxonomy and ecology of deep-sea benthos. I worked on deep-sea brittle star systematics during my Masters at UNAM, México, and on taxonomy and ecology of deep-sea and sandy beach macrofauna from the Caribbean Sea at the INVEMAR institute in Colombia. During my PhD at the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES) in Vitória, Brazil, and as an iAtlantic fellow on WP4, I am studying how climate change is impacting deep-sea benthic ecosystems, identifying and quantifying the effects of these changes on benthic ecological processes.
Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in the iMirabilis2 expedition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I am part of an excellent team that made it possible all our experiments in Cabo Verde! Daniëlle and Alycia did an excellent job testing how the temperature increase and the decline of organic matter quality to the seafloor can affect the benthic deep-sea life for next century. They really made me feel part of the expedition, keeping in touch with me, and sharing everything that happened with our onboard work. In addition to Kelsey who shared with us all their adventures in the middle of the ocean every day! iMirabilis2 was a great expedition! I am excited waiting for my samples, to identify them and analyse them isotopically to see our final results, and to compare them with those of our iAtlantic future expedition in the Santos Basin, Brazil (study area 10) next year!
I am Dkawlma Tora from Togo and I live in Cape Verde for my studies. I am a Master student at Technical Atlantic University of Mindelo- Sao Vicente through WASCAL Scholarship. The area of my study is Climate Change and Marine Sciences.
I am very excited about the marine domain (marine pollution) and iMirabilis2 was of great interest to me because the Shipboard training is part of my upcoming courses. It was very awesome to follow their work day by day on WhatsApp and to meet the staff and speak with them by Zoom calls. It enabled me to know more about the implementation of research with vessels, the equipment and its use. It was also amazing to discover the riches of Cape Verde Sea’s life.
Grant van der Heever
I am an instrument technician at the South African Environmental Observation Networks Offshore node based in Cape Town South Africa. Here, my main duties are the planning and execution of at-sea surveys and the operation and maintenance of the sampling equipment used during those surveys. The sampling equipment I operate relies on underwater visual and physical sampling equipment to investigate long-term ecological change in the understudied deeper waters of South Africa. Although my scientific interests are broad, understanding and quantifying the habitats of benthic fish and invertebrates inhabiting South Africa’s offshore ecosystems is my primary focus.
The ship-to-shore buddy experience was amazing and the fellows definitely made us feel like we were part of the scientific team. Our Thursday evening chats were definitely something to look forward to, and I enjoyed every aspect of it! I especially enjoyed the benthic landers and camera trap discussion sessions and I was really fascinated by the interesting fish fauna that were sampled. Even though I was supposed to be a participant on the cruise, the ship-to-shore buddy initiative made the missed opportunity feel less like a loss. I would like to commend the fellows for their efforts!
I am a Masters student in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Cape Town using a remotely operated vehicle to explore temperate mesophotic ecosystems on the Wild Coast of South Africa.
Research groups all over the world should run a ship to shore buddy program on all research expeditions big or small. This platform has created a space for relaxed interactions between emerging scientists from various parts of the world to exchange ideas and learn new skills. The weekly zoom calls were immensely interesting and have given me insights into the challenges and opportunities of multidisciplinary deep sea research using state of the art technologies. I hope to be part of many more programmes like this one.
Maurício Santos Andrade
I am Mauricio. I live in Brazil, where I graduated in Oceanography in 2019 at the Federal University of Bahia. During my undergraduate program, I focused on understanding the carbon cycle in the blue carbon ecosystems and how anthropogenic impacts may alter its ability to store carbon. Nowadays, I am a master’s student at the Federal University of Rio Grande, where I am working with polar biogeochemistry (carbonate system parameters in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula). Also, I am one of five students awarded with the West P&I Bursary 2021 at the National Oceanography Centre – University of Southampton. I love getting in touch with the marine environment and experience new moments with it, such as fieldwork in coastal zones and cruises in the open ocean.
The Whatsapp group was an excellent place to keep us updated about the activities on board at the iMirabilis cruise throughout August 2021. This group, along with the Zoom meetings weekly, was a good experience to participate in a cruise even we were not on it in person. The multidisciplinarity on the iMirabilis cruise was terrific. Indeed, the buddies on board translated that scientific environment through discussions, presenting some methods and previous results, and how to work with new approaches for me, personally, such as the ROV used. That time together was like a class to explore the potential of this cruise while it was going on. Even with some experience on board, the people’s disposition on board was essential to making this experience a great one. Every time we had a question, they spent efforts to get information from the other people on board to bring to us as much information as they can. In summary, this experience was like a logbook with constant updates that certainly added a lot to my career as an oceanographer.
My name is Pedro, I’m a biologist and I recently started my Master’s in Oceanography. I will work with the distribution and taxonomy of the octocoral genus Primnoella in the Campos and Santos Basins as a part of the iAtlantic Project here in Brazil.
I was very excited when Kelsey invited me to the Ship-to-Shore buddy program and also with the opportunity to get an inside view of an oceanographic expedition. It was great to learn about the routine in a scientific ship as well as the research other team members are doing, and how they come together to solve any problem that would come up. Overall, it was a highly enriching experience, especially getting to know other early-career scientists who share as much admiration for the deep sea as I do.
My name is Renata Arantes, I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the iAtlantic project. I work with deep sea habitat characterization, focusing on deep-sea coral habitats in the Brazilian continental slope. My postdoc project deals with deep-sea octocoral alpha taxonomy (based in morphological characters) and the development of a set of macroscopic characteristics for the recognition of these species through ROV images, wherever it is possible.
It was a very interesting experience to be part of the ship to shore buddy program. I finally got to know some of my iAtlantic fellows and had the opportunity to communicate regularly with them during all cruise. iMirabilis was an international multidisciplinary expedition with so many different activities that even remotely allowed us to know in detail all the sampling methods as well the functioning of the sampling devices, which some of us never had the opportunity to work with before. Besides our weekly meetings we interacted by message very often getting first-hand the daily expedition’s highlights, which was pretty amazing when you realize that the Cabo Verde region was a unexplored area, a privilege for those who work in the deep sea.
My name is Daniel Quaye. I am from Ghana but currently in Cape Verde as a student in the WASCAL master’s research program in Climate Change and Marine Sciences at the Atlantic Technical University. I am interested in ecology and population dynamics, and how environmental changes impact aquatic populations.
As a young scientist looking forward to my first cruise next year (fingers crossed), I recognized this innovative ‘Ship-to-Shore’ buddy system of iMirabilis2 as a good training opportunity. Indeed, my virtual interaction with fellows on the expedition has been very beneficial. My learning experience ranged from discussions on life at sea (mostly devoid of sleep), clothing, popular medication, as well as a dive into the different research questions being pursued by fellows.
Over these past couple of weeks, I have been exposed to knowledge on deep-sea ecosystems, their functioning, sampling techniques and illustrations of various equipment and instruments (an ROV, AUV and benthic lander). The buddies WhatsApp group was mostly buzzing with regular updates. Despite their busy schedule, I found fellows ever ready to share and explain different aspects of their work to us. It was also quite satisfying fellows were able to share preliminary results from their analysis via our weekly live chat on Zoom.
Overall, though I followed the expedition from a desktop, I think it’s fair to say I was part of this novel exploration of the deep-sea ecosystems of Cabo Verde. The entire team’s level of engagement was high. A big appreciation to the all fellows (Bea, Kelsey, Danielle, Alycia), the organizers and members of the different research teams for such a wonderful experience.