I guess before I left I’d been worried life on board would get monotonous. There is a world of difference, though, between routine and monotony. It’s true: every day is essentially a copy of the previous. I come on shift at midnight. Take a look at where we are, what we’ve covered in the hours I’ve been asleep. Though it’s only ocean and more ocean and more ocean around us, for some reason it’s still important for my brain to know whether I’m looking out to the north or south. I check where we’re at with data import, processing, multibeam editing. There is always multibeam editing to do. Dot killing, as the students refer to it. All the early geophys data is processed and finalised now, so we can begin to work with it: landform mapping, stratigraphy mapping, building interpretations, and fixing up our plans for the 2nd leg in the Western Ross Sea.

At some point in the early hours I head up to the Bridge with a cup of coffee for an injection of light, vista, the perspective that being on the 5th floor gives you rather than down in our lab right in the belly of the boat. These early to middle hours of the shift are peaceful, when the majority of day shifters have gone to bed and before the non-shift, normal working day folk get up for breakfast. After breakfast is always an energetic time. People are getting up, wanting to know where we are, what’s come in overnight. This is talking time, and science time. Look at this here, what do you think about that there?…

It’s always the same, and yet every day is different. Each ‘morning’ the sea and the sky look new. The light (or even the dimness that’s building in the early hours now) that streams in through the Bridge windows is always different. The data’s only a continuation of the patch we just covered, but it’s brand new, not seen before, and always throws up new questions, ideas, points for discussion, things to cross-reference between our different datasets. Routine, but definitely not monotonous.

The Ross Sea

The Ross Sea. Photo: Sarah Greenwood

The Ross Sea

Never get tired of these. Photo: Sarah Greenwood