Problem Solving On The Sea: Part 1

Problem Solving On The Sea: Part 1

Photos and story by Sam Armanino |


A guy named Marke walked up and pointed to a huge black bird wading in the open ocean. “There’s another one,” He said, counting the black albatrosses surrounding the boat.  


The black footed albatross spends most of its life at sea and the one Marke was pointing at looked hungry. “They think we are a fishing vessel,” he said.


There was a yell from inside the cab and the crane wire started pulling something up from the ocean depth. Bubbles and movement stirred the top of the ocean and up came what is called a CTD.


CTD stands for conductivity, temperature and depth and is basically a computer that’s thrown into the ocean to gather research for chemical studies.

The CTD is equipped with Niskin bottles that collect different water samples. The bottles are opened containers that trap water inside at the chosen depths.


The team of students conducting the research are part of the class Oceanography 260: Sampling Techniques. The class teaches students how to use different methods of research students need to know in the field.

During this trip the students were learning about chemical testing the water for oxygen levels at different depths.


Everyone seemed to be stoked to be in the classroom—12 miles out on the open ocean. Between puking off the side of the boat, napping on the top deck, playing cards and eating food, the students were dedicated to learning everything they could about the ocean.


A couple students grabbed the swinging CTD that resembled a really expensive demolition crane. They lowered it to the floor of the vessel and gave the thumbs up of approval to the operators. 


Someone bellowed from inside the cabin where the student researchers scanned over the research computers linked to the CTD.

“We lost all communication to the CTD,” someone yelled.


The moment stood still as the professors, crew and students hoped the data wasn’t lost and this trip to the open ocean wasn’t for nothing.

Loosing communication between the ship’s computers and the CTD has never happened to the students or professors on the Coral Sea, the crew wasn’t sure what to do next.


Read what happens next…

Problem Solving On The Sea: Part 2

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