Pre-Cruise Blog by Teacher at Sea, Steve Blatnica

When I first mentioned this to my students the reaction was puzzling. It seemed to me that they didn’t view me as someone who could be on a research vessel. I think this comes from the idea that doing science is somewhat out of reach or that it is reserved for “different” kinds of people. People, very unlike me. As it turned out they warmed up to the idea, and then the questions started to come in. First on their questions were focused on what kinds of things will I be seeing on board. Charismatic mega fauna was on their mind. ” Will you see dolphins?”, ” Will you be able to pet them?” I addressed the initial misconceptions about the cruise and then posed several questions to the students.
1. What does a researcher do?
2. What would a researcher be interested in studying on board a vessel at sea?
3 What would life be like on a research vessel?

I gave students some time to think about those questions and then I asked them to put together a description of what they feel life would be like on a research vessel. Here are some of the statements about what they said.

“Life on a research vessel is, complicated, hardworking, interesting. It might be lonely. Although, you get to meet new people, it’s still not the same as it would be if you knew those other people.  During the day, you examine the life specimens, collect data, and analyze what you have learned. At night, you have time to socialize with your fellow researches and sleep.  The research could include; examining the inner body of the sea life, or studying their behavior in their natural habitat. Data could contain what viruses or diseases that the animal had. Some tools that may be used could include goggles, lab coats, gloves, microscopes, and tubes.The research could go to learning more about life in the ocean, and life in general. We could learn about new things that occur in the ocean, that have not found its way to land species.”
“1. Life on a vessel is hard work. The living spaces would be small, you would have little company, and the work would be long. Also, you would have to get used to seeing the same people everyday and getting to know them. It just seems like it would be hard to do and not the most enjoyable thing in the world. 2. A day on a vessel would be very hectic. You would be working like any other day, but with obstacles like: the boat swaying back and forth and storms. A night would be different also because you would have to get used to sleeping with the boat moving. It would be something to adapt to. 3. They could conduct or do research on marine animals, mammals, and plants. They would be up close and personal with the organisms of the ocean and could do experiments on things if needed. It would be easier for them to take samples of things if needed there also. 4. On a research vessel, biologists could also take notes on organisms up close. they could do things on it, that they could do on land like interact with marine animals and study the plants in their habitat. 5. They could use tools like an underwater camera to take pictures, or a microscope to study some plants they have gathered and taken on to the vessel. or if they wanted to go really extreme, they could take a little submarine deep down into the ocean and see what they would find. Maybe even things we have never discovered. 6. The research could be used and kept so we know what certain species lives are like in the ocean. It also could be used later on in a couple of years to see if any of the organisms have changed, and if they have how so? It could be used to track the adaptations of organisms.”

I’m excited to be a part of this cruise, and ready to share with the students what doing science is really like.

-Steve Blatnica
Midpark High School
Middleburg Hts, OH

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