Bon Voyage, R/V Oceanus

This post is part of a series chronicling the September 12-15, 2019 research cruise on board the R/V Oceanus, Oregon State University’s largest research vessel. This cruise was funded by Oregon Legislative funds through the Oceangoing Research Vessel Program. Coordination and additional support was provided by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

Follow the adventures of the students, educators, and researchers who are on board engaging in #STEMatSea.

By Tracy Crews

Four high school students, one high school teacher, one community college student, and three graduate student will accompany OSU researchers on this cruise that will study seabird and marine mammal distribution off the Oregon Coast and correlate sightings with prey abundance and oceanographic data. On this trip, we hope to deploy drones to help quantify sightings and document marine mammal behavior, and to launch a smaller boat from the research vessel to collect fecal samples from whales. In addition, students will work with benthic ecologists to collect box core samples to learn about oceanographic sediments found in various locations and the organisms living within.

This cruise is not just an opportunity for researchers to collect valuable information about Oregon’s marine ecosystems and the diverse organisms that call these areas home, but an amazing opportunity for students to participate in hands-on, career connected learning. While serving as part of the science party, they get a unique glimpse into life at sea and the lives of the female researchers leading this expedition.


Wednesday was a busy day for researchers, their graduate students, and the ship’s crew aboard the R/V Oceanus, as they worked together to “mobilize” for their four day STEM research cruise. Oceanographic equipment was loaded, tested, and tied down. Duffle bags full of boots, rain gear, gloves, cameras, and binoculars were hauled up the ship’s gangway and down multiple flights of ladders to small staterooms with bunk beds that would serve as our homes for the next five days. Packing for a research cruise is much more intense than packing for vacation. It’s not just the extra amount of gear required to live and work comfortably at sea, but the knowledge that once you leave the dock there is no way to replace what is missing or what might break. So we pack multiples of almost everything.

Getting Underway

On Thursday, students and other cruise participants spent the first hours of the morning going through safety drills, donning life jackets and immersion suits and learning how to use a fire hose.

Once safety drills were complete, the ship left the dock and headed out under Newport’s Yaquina Bridge to the open ocean!

Coming up next: Learning to conduct research at sea on the very first day of the cruise.

Tracy Crews manages Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program and is responsible for coordinating the R/V Oceanus shipboard experience for students and teachers.

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