Zane Chapman aboard the R/V  Sikuliaq .

Zane Chapman aboard the R/V Sikuliaq.

Date: June something or another, it doesn’t really matter with the round-the-clock work and the endless sun.  Each day starts at a new station, mostly with the view of open ocean and sometimes with the occasional landscape of the Arctic coastline where you get to play the game Alaska or Russia.  On few occasions we get to do our S.P. impression and actually see Russia from the back door.  While the day-to-day scenery never changes drastically, the excitement of the trip lies below the water.  Each station provides a new complex structure of life, from the mud and sediment, to the planktonic life in the surface of the water, and everything in between.  Each type of sampling explores the many aspects that make the Chukchi Sea a unique ecosystem.  As a fish person, my interest fell heavily with the diverse bounty of the bottom trawl.  Each day is a chance to see new species I have never before encountered and an opportunity to learn about their place in the food web.  While it is easier to see the uniqueness in the larger species, the small invertebrates and even chlorophyll present interesting stories at each station we sample.  During the day, time is just a number, the sun is always out, and during survey mode the sampling is constant. The one thing that does keep time is the meals on board.  Like clockwork, a five-star meal is presented at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the occasional baked good or sweet in between.  Between the meals and hospitality of the crew, this vessel is a swimming pool away from being a luxury cruise ship, just with more fun activities.

 Photo credit: Zane Chapman

Photo credit: Zane Chapman

When I first joined my research project on Arctic cod, the thing I was most looking forward to was a chance to visit the Arctic. Due to a late opening, I was fortunate enough to secure a bunk on the Sikuliaq.  This cruise has far exceeded my expectations; I have been able to gain experience in a variety of different projects, as well as see how my Arctic cod samples were obtained. I came on this cruise a graduate student, but I will be leaving an Asgardian.