Tropical Exploration 2015

Surviving on a Ship from the Perspective of a Landlubber

By Jonathan Cotugno - Explorer in Training
June 4, 2015


Sunsets on Okeanos Explorer are always one of the highlights of the day. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Download larger version (jpg, 391 KB).

Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word ‘surviving.’ Surviving implies there is some hardship to overcome. There aren’t many hardships aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

My day begins by waking around 7 am. My roommate is out on his mapping shift, so I have the stateroom to myself. I brush my teeth, dress myself, and head down to the mess hall for breakfast. A breakfast that is already made for me – hot and delicious. After breakfast, I fill up my mug using the espresso machine that is available for use any time of the day.

Once breakfast is over I have a few choices of activities for the next few hours before my shift: shall I get a work out in? Maybe go lay out in the Pacific sun? I’ve got time to watch a movie, but maybe I should be productive and do some research? This is easily the most difficult decision of the day.

Most likely after a short workout, lunch time rolls around at 11 am. Again, another hot, fresh, delicious meal made and ready when I enter the mess hall. Lunch options vary from beef bulgogi, to curried vegetables, grilled cheese sandwiches, and gyro wraps; and there is always a vegetarian option. And always a freshly tossed salad. It’s odd having all your meals prepped for you. There seems to be much more time in the day to be productive, to do more science.

After lunch I head to the mission control room to relieve the morning mapping watch shift. My shift’s duration is from 11:30 am – 7:30 pm, and the night and morning shifts are from 7:30 pm– 3:30 am and 3:30 am – 11:30 am, respectively. I lucked out with my shift by not having to adjust my sleeping schedule. However, the night and morning mapping team remarked that it only took about two days to become accustomed to their new daily routine.


From left to right: Mapping Watch Lead James Miller, Explorer in Training Jonathan Contugno, Expedition Coordinator Lindsay Mckenna, Scientist Julian Schanze, and Explorer in Training Abigail Casavant. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Tropical Exploration 2015.. Download larger version (jpg, 716 KB).