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On the importance of names. Or, “Are we at the hump or the hole?”

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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If you look at our recent GPS trajectory, you might think our navigator is, well, under the influence.

Chasing our tails, or chasing plankton?

But actually, our course is a planned path between 3 specific spots:

Da Base: Our home base for the past few days.
Da Hole: A location slightly south of Da Base, where the satellites showed chlorophyll levels looking a little low.
Da Hump: A spot slightly north of Da Base, where the satellites indicated chlorophyll levels were a little higher than the surrounding areas.

Da Hole, Da Hump, Da Midlands, Da Base. Not pictured: Da Promised Land.

So we started at Da Base, went down to Da Hole, back to Da Base, up to Da Hump, back to Da Base, down to Da Hole, back to Da Base, and now we’re heading back to Da Hump. You get the idea. If you’re confused, it’s okay. So are a lot of people on board! A common question the past few days has been, “Wait, where are we again?”

The idea is to go to a place (like Da Base), and then poke around for a while, taking different measurements. With the help of satellites, we can see where there might be something interesting — like low chlorophyll levels at Da Hole or high chlorophyll levels at Da Hump — and we can go there to check out what’s happening by deploying instruments like the CTD, different profiling floats, nets and traps.

Right now we’re steaming north…up to Da Hump again. From there, we’ll go farther north, where there’s something the scientists are tentatively calling “the promised land” where there seems to be a big bloom of something (hopefully Ehux!). We won’t know until we get there though.

The hunt is on!

During this trip, I’ll be answering your questions about the science, this boat, and life onboard. Want to know how we search for plankton, why we’re here, or what the food is like? Just ask me! And if you’re wondering how I got here, check out the groups that made this adventure possible: Mind Open Media and COSEE NOW.

Previously in this series:

All Aboard: how you can be a part of our research blog
You wanted to know: what are these phytoplankton?
You wanted to know: what am I bringing to sea?
Greetings from Ponta Delgada! We set sail tomorrow.
Steaming North: how the scientists are trying to find plankton
The superstar sensor: what is a CTD?
Status Update: Day 3 at the Cyclonic Eddy
You wanted to know: what is this virus that infects the phytoplankton (Part One)
You wanted to know: what is this virus that infects the phytoplankton (Part Two)
Plankton hunting: Part art, Part science
You wanted to know: what’s the food like on board?
Wildlife watch!
Jumborizing: a brief history of the R/V Knorr

Rose Eveleth About the Author: Rose Eveleth is a producer, designer, writer and animator based in Brooklyn. She's got a degree in ecology from U.C. San Diego, and a masters in journalism from NYU. Now, she makes sciencey stuff for places like The New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider and OnEarth. Follow on Twitter @roseveleth.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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