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Journey Into The Unknown

First in our new series of posts from our students, mentors, facilitators and staff - this first post is from MSc Oceanography student Hannah Sharman: “What does it feel like to be an octopus? To be a jellyfish? Does it feel like anything at all?” So asks Peter Godfrey-Smith in his book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. Just one of the manifold obscure influences to feed my long-standing fascination with the oceans. Continue reading →

Forty years of vent exploration – Four weeks of sampling

Four weeks at sea and we’ve got into the steady rhythm of the ship; we log the time passed from the menu in the galley (fish-Friday, curry-Saturday) and the weekly linen change. I have studied this hydrothermal site called TAG, nearly 4km below us on the seafloor, for nearly 30 years. First for my PhD, then on and off over the years. TAG is now one of the most well studied, deep-sea vent sites anywhere on the seafloor. Continue reading →

Fair winds and following seas

In many ways the work of an oceanographer hasn’t changed since the early days of the discipline when a team of scientists sailed for several years across ocean basins making spot measurements of depth and salinity; hauling up strange creatures from the depths. We still ‘sail’ in rather larger science teams for much shorter periods of time. The rhythm of work on a ship and the lowering and hauling of wires is very familiar. Continue reading →

Five things we’ve learnt about the oceans in the last 25 years

It’s early 1993 and I am sailing across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Royal Research Ship Charles Darwin on my first deep-sea adventure. The late Harry Elderfield is our chief scientist and we are mapping out the newly discovered hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and sampling the plumes that waft upwards from the hot seafloor vents. We tow our sensors on frames hanging from conducting wires that are kilometres long, gradually building up a picture of the plumes. Continue reading →