Once in Lifetime
I’m Panya from the University of Houston and the only undergraduate student lucky enough to be part of the science team that will explore and map the “world’s largest single volcano.” My area of study focuses on exploration geophysics, so I was ecstatic about being out to sea on the R/V Falkor for this once in a lifetime opportunity. However, what I did not consider in all my excitement was the potential for sea sickness that may accompany such travels. Everyone experiences it to a certain degree with some only getting a slight headache, while others are left unable to complete the most basic of functions. To put it simply, sea sickness or motion sickness is caused by the mixed signals sent to the brain by the eyes and the inner ear when your body feels the motion, but you do not necessarily see it.
First Day of Sea Sickness
The first day at sea is always the worst, and for me, it started immediately after we left Honolulu Harbor. There is no escape from the rocking of the ship once you are underway. Even those who have been to sea before still experience it, but luckily, the helpless feeling subsides as you adjust to sea life.
Dealing with Sea Sickness
While sea sickness is all but unavoidable for some, there are ways to ease the symptoms. The most obvious is to take your sea sickness medication such as Dramamine or Cinnarizine the day before leaving port. Forcing fluids and eating small meals of bland food throughout the day instead of three large meals a day worked for me. I carried small Ziploc bags of crackers to help ease the emptiness in my stomach and in hopes of keeping something down. Eventually, my body did acclimate to the motion of the ocean, and I was able to perform my watchstander during. Thankfully, I was back to my normal self in time to celebrate my birthday at sea with a specially made birthday cake and serenades by my newly found crew of friends. Now that most of us have adjusted to sea life, the science adventures can begin. Each day we get closer to our destination, and I cannot wait to the mapping to start.