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Blog Posts by: Jorge Blanco

The human factor is undoubtedly the most important thing on any campaign. You can have campaigns without ROV, without dredges and without CTD, but you can’t have a campaign without a crew. The Oceana crew for this campaign has stayed steady at around 18 - 20 people. In theory, it should be hard to all live together on a 50-meter boat for two long months of hard work. In theory…

Life aboard a ship is a strange thing: all the crew members, each with their daily chores, packed together in a limited space and surrounded by the sea.

The boat becomes an ecosystem where each crew member seeks their space. It takes time to adapt to the boat, the rest of the crew, the hours on and off…and once you do, you realize that every day is the same, like a time loop, over and over again like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”.

It’s been over 40 days since the expedition began. Today, a few of us met at our “movie theater” after the day’s work and we talked about how it felt like we had been here forever. It's as if we’ve always known each other and there’s no world beyond the Neptune and its horizon. But at the same time, we realized that time has flown by and that what seemed so long away at first has started to barrel towards us like a runaway train: the end of the campaign. I think this is a clear reflection of what life is like at sea, intense but rewarding every day.

It’s gratifying to be back at sea again after a few days in port. It was a shame to have to limit the dives with our Dutch colleagues Ben, Harold, Peter, Flor and Udo because of the crane and bad weather, although we did have the opportunity to return to Groningen and have a great time instead.

A day in port and we wake up in Holland, surrounded by windmills and four meters below sea level, but this time are no bizarre and unpredictable love story, only the tide. Everyone returned to their nest, burrow, shelter or bunk after a nighttime foray into the streets of Groningen, and no one deserted.

We’re moored in Eemshaven port in the Netherlands and we’re now past the halfway point in the expedition.

Throughout this time, we’ve been quite a few days without having seen land, right in the centre of the North Sea and SCUBA diving in some amazing places such as the Norwegian coast and in Scottish waters. Even though we have been enjoying being out at sea, it’s always nice to harbour and have some time off.

I've started my adventures out here in the North Sea, which was unknown territory for me until today.

Jorge (our GIS analyst) and I travelled on Monday to Eemshaven port to join the expedition for the Danish leg. For two weeks we’ll be carrying out research in several areas of interest in Dutch waters, looking for essential habitats for fish species as well as for the marine ecosystem in general.

It’s Monday evening when we arrived at Eemshaven harbour. A huge sticker “Oceana” on Icelands vessel Neptune welcomed us, along with a dozen smiling nationalities (mainly Spanish) in Oceana shirts.

Today we work up in port and although we had some new Dutch colleagues coming on board the Neptune, we didn’t get the chance to meet them before we had to leave the vessel. A few of us had to come off for a few days to make room for the Dutch divers and PhD students. It’s sad to leave our workmates behind for a few days but also exciting to get to know Groningen a little better and take away with us a bit of Dutch culture.

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