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  • Writer's pictureIanna Luna

A swirling adventure begins!

A happy tone bursts from the loudspeaker on board of the research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, announcing our departure from port: The time has finally arrived for the e-IMPACT cruise to start. Over the next few weeks, the biogeochemical implications of the cyclonic and anticyclonic eddy fields in the “Canary Eddy Corridor” (CEC) will be studied by our scientists.

Our team has been hard at work for weeks, counting tasks instead of sheep before sleep. However, their work is far from over! Boarding our home away from home for a month also means that it’s time to unpack. Science away from land is a gigantic logistical achievement, and lucky for us, the R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa is the perfect place for this, but still, a lot has to be ready before science can start.

The scientific team composed by members of ULPGC and CSIC.

The first chaotic hours of setting up our workstations on board have made the different decks of this research vessel turn into effective pool tables. Who knows what great force strike down on us, but here we are, bumping into each other at full speed. As a pool ball in this ship, first, you need to have no idea of what comes next, what goes where, what time or day it is (unless it’s lunchtime), all you can be allowed to know is that you will bump into people running around with tubes, bottles, boxes… you name it! Despite all this chaos, or perhaps, because of it, the enormous amount of teamwork becomes apparent. It is thanks to everyone’s effort and determination that the end of the day arrives.

Our team of scientists unpacking the equipment.

But it’s not all work! In the midst of it there has been laughter, first-times, bubbling friendships, and happy re-encounters. We’ve even had time to have an impromptu baptism for our cruises’ mascot, Eddy Bryan Fuentes Betancor, the First of his Name (and probably only), or just Eddy if you like.

Laura and Alvaro carry out an impromptu baptism of eIMPACTs mascot, Eddy, at our Rosetta, the Holy Cathedral of Sampling.

If you inspect our tired faces closely, you’ll notice the excitement in our eyes. Our seniors look on tenderly as some of us, first timers at sea, stare all around us with agape mouths. Will we be exhausted by being rocked into madness by the whims of the sea, or will we desperately clutch to the gunwale in denial as the time to return to land arrives again? Who can tell.

A sad, yet mystical coincidence envelops the beginning of our journey: James Lovelock, the author of Gaia's Hypothesis, has passed away at age 103 (on his birthday).

The different biogeochemical cycles that govern oceanic eddies are the ones that drive ocean dynamics as we know it. We've harmed our planet so much, that its scorching wrath is falling upon us. In this cruise, we hope to unravel yet more mysteries that will help us take the future into our hands, as an awkward, but determined way to apologize to Gaia, and live another day.

Pictures: Javier Arístegui, Ianna Luna Duval

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