As Artist-At-Sea with a dozen marine scientists, I happily settled into my stateroom onboard the icebreaker RV Sikuliaq on February 14th. We headed out to collect zooplankton and seawater from Newport, Oregon to Trinidad in Northern California. The ship was our base for the next several days – a wildly mobile home, as it turned out, with typical winter winds and mountainous waves.
The survey area began close to the Newport shore, then headed 60 miles out to sea, south to California and back. The large ship ( 280') was very comfortable and outfitted with all the equipment to investigate how seasonal variations in the zooplankton affect the overall marine food web. Speaking of food, the chefs onboard the ship prepared beautiful meals, despite the frequent wild rolling of the seas and flying pots and pans. This is the first trip of a 2 -year study funded by the National Science Foundation. OSU lead scientist, Bob Cowen, and his students will conduct 4 research cruises. Each trip will also include an Artist. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join this wonderful group of young scientists to observe and record their work deploying plankton collection nets, seawater sampling equipment as well as viewing images from the marvelous underwater camera developed by Bob Cowen. The images from the microscope and ISIIS camera, rich conversations with the scientists and ship’s crewmembers gave me loads of material to work with back in the studio. I did some drawings of the organisms I examined under the microscopes, was able to help sort different species for preserving for future study, and spent time with the excellent plankton books the professors brought onboard.
I'll be joining another cruise with the Schmidt Ocean Institute in July to map methane seeps on the seafloor. https://schmidtocean.org