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My name is Néstor Ramírez – I am a geological engineer who has been working on marine geology for 8 years, but on land! I have always worked with someone else’s data collected from the deep ocean. I process and analyze the data to build models that portray the story of how deep-sea sediments evolve and deform through time. That is right: some scientists are lucky enough to go out to sea, while others (such as myself) simply have to stay ashore and wait for the data to arrive.
Today things are different, because I am now on board the R/V Falkor getting to visit and collect data that pertains directly to my PhD study area: the Pescadero Basin in the southern Gulf of California. This is an amazing experience for me because this is my first time on an oceanographic ship. All activities onboard are new and exciting, from eating in the galley to participating in the AUV and ROV operations on deck. Though I am not familiar with many of the activities on board – both scientifically and ship related – I feel a natural empathy towards all the people here: smiling faces, pleasant talks, and good mood everywhere.
Technology for Science, Food for Scientists
The ship is equipped with very sophisticated technology and robots capable of submerging up to 4500m deep and more. The technicians and operation managers are highly trained and incredibly skillful. However, in my humble opinion, those who deserve a very special acknowledgement are the chefs! They feed us all with such delicious food; you can feel how much they truly care in every dish, at every meal. These guys really know what they are doing.
The best of all is that each particular effort and teamwork in all areas have a common goal: to do great science. The data that will be collected – as well as its subsequent analysis – will deepen our understanding of the geological and biological processes occurring in the Gulf of California. In addition, the study of hydrothermal vents will allow us to delve into the chemical processes involved in the synthesis of the organic compounds that are the building blocks of life on our planet. Knowing the intimate relationship between the physical, chemical, and biological gradients occurring at hydrothermal vent systems on Earth may unlock a fundamental key to understand the possibility of life in other bodies of the Solar System.
The opportunity to participate and work with a multidisciplinary team scientists from different countries will definitely be one of the most enriching experiences of my entire life. We all work inspired by the thrill of reaching unexplored places on the seabed, hoping to obtain data that will allow us to generate new knowledge. As Jacques Yves Cousteau once said: “After all, what is a scientist then? He is a curious man who looks through the eye of a lock, the lock of nature, trying to know what is happening.”