The first day of any UNOLS cruise is filled with myriad meetings, briefings, and safety courses. All new crew members and scientists are provided a comprehensive orientation to introduce them to many of the ships operations, safety equipment, and procedures. Among other things, we learn about separating our plastics from the biodegradable trash, what kind of footwear is required outside living quarters and on deck, and how to properly return movies into the collection once we are finished with them.
We also learn about more serious things, such as where to muster and what to do in case of fire, if someone falls overboard, or in case we need to abandon ship. For all who’ve never done it, this training includes donning an immersion suit, also known as a “gumby suit”. This is usually a pretty fun exercise because the suits are somewhat difficult to put on so, and everyone seems to have their own favorite technique. Once they are on it is hard not to laugh at how silly the outfit looks. All kidding aside though, these suits save lives, and although I hope I never need to use one, it’s good to know there is one onboard for every member of the science party and crew.