On Nautilus everyone has at least one story. People come from different backgrounds, abilities, and interests. The beauty of this diversity can be heard in almost every conversation. There are tales of lost video, of difficult ROV recoveries, of strange food and of university classes which inspired or terrified. When people talk, it is worth listening to; it is informative and interesting. Because I believe in the power of storytelling, I want to share one of our intern data logger's story in her own words. So, read on and hear the words of Sandra so that you know where she came from and what she is learning.
Hi, my name is Sandra Schleier Hernandez; I am an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico majoring in Coastal Marine Biology. This year I attended the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Conference in Salt Lake, Utah where I visited the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) booth and signed up for their e-mail list. A month later I got an e-mail with the application for a science intern position on an exploration vessel. Around April I was contacted by Katy Croff Bell who offered me a position as a data logger aboard the Nautilus. I accepted and flew out to Istanbul, Turkey on July 24th to meet the team. During the next two days each new member on the ship got different trainings pertinent to his or her roles.
As a science data logger it is my job to record every observation on each dive done by our ROVs Hercules and Argus. I work 2 four-hour watches a day during which I record every sample taken, discuss with the chief scientist about our new discoveries, and take pictures from the ROVs’ footage. During my time as an intern, we will be exploring the Anaximinder underwater mountains and adjacent mud volcanoes, which are at a depth of approximately 2,300 meters. Our objective is to explore the relationship between these environments and their biological communities. Seismic activity between the African and Anatolian plates cause mud volcanoes to form and expel methane and rocks. The methane then creates a stable environment for opportunistic bacteria to colonize, become a food source, and attract fish, tubeworms, shrimps, clams, and crabs creating a deep-sea ecosystem all dependent on methane. This opportunity has been amazing and is helping me grow as a scientist and future ocean explorer.