Clio Bonnett, Daphne Cuvelier, and Colin Young looking through a tube worm sample at 1 a.m. (Photo credit: Ed McNichol)

The past few weeks at sea aboard the R/V Thompson have been a rollercoaster (or felt like it when the waves have gotten moving). I’ve felt mixtures of excitement and frustration, success and setbacks, met new friends, and had some very competitive games of cribbage.

The work being done in B.C.’s backyard is astounding. I’ve seen the international community coming together to study and celebrate the amazing ecosystems found in Canadian waters, ecosystems most of us don’t even realize are there. Part of the reason is that there isn’t much known about these places yet, though we’re seeing progress. And every person I know on board is eager to share their discoveries with the world.

Octopus takes a break on our instruments (Photo: Ocean Networks Canada).

Octopus takes a break on our instruments (Photo: Ocean Networks Canada).

We’ve had times when every piece of machinery we tried to place seemed to work against us, with more time spent inspecting and spooling quarrelsome spools of cable than I care to recall. But those moments have been tempered with the delight we had on nights when we would stay up late to see the latest sample of worms or sediments coming up from the bottom, or taking advantage of a clear night to watch the stars with no other lights to obscure the view.

Late night tube-worm sample.

Late night tube-worm sample.

We’ve had times to drop everything to run and see dolphins off the front of the ship, and then shivered as we forgot how cold the open ocean is, even in June. And importantly, I’ve had chances to talk to classes back on shore, answering their questions and showing them around the ship through the modern marvels of Skype and a tablet computer.

Chatting with students via Skype from the boat.

Chatting with students via Skype from the boat.

Most importantly, I’ve had my sense of scale and discovery reignited. Just seeing one small corner of the ocean away from the coast has hit me in the gut with just how much there is left to explore. I’ve spent the past four years talking about oceans and marine life, and know that I can spend a lifetime only scratching the surface.

View from the deck of R/V Thompson.

View from the deck of R/V Thompson.

To Ocean Networks Canada, the Ship2Shore Educator program, my family, and to all my good friends and colleagues at Vancouver Aquarium, thank you for the opportunity.

Now, I’ve heard a nasty rumour about something called “landsickness”?

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