Category Archives: VIKING VISION

5 Most Fabulous Recollections of Viking Vision; those would be the Best Memories

Wispy Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008

In the words of David Guetta, “All the crazy sh*t I did tonight, those would be the best memories,” I can definitely relate to this song. My revised version would be, “All the crazy stuff I did in the last 2 months, and those would be one of the best memories.” Honestly, with all the fabulous recollections I had on the Viking Vision, I could not have asked for a better start in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The most important lesson that I learned on this rotation was to never judge a book by its cover. Let me elaborate, since I worked with a majority of Filipinos and Norwegians onboard it was at times difficult to communicate. Some of my first few conversations I had with the Filipinos did not go that well, not because they gave a bad first impression, but simply because we had a language barrier to break through. Once they were used to me and became more relaxed, then they started practicing their English around me. If I would have been judgmental in the very beginning, then I would have not met some really cool guys that still on occasion facebook me with their broken English. I know good first impressions are really important, but when it comes to communicating with another culture it is important to remember to be patient. Do not be so quick to judge someone – after all, you would not want to be judged, would you?
5 Most Fabulous Recollections of My Time on Viking Vision

Birds Flying during Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008



1.  Being part of the crew:

Along with excellent first impressions – “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions” that I was given, I felt like part of the crew. I remember the first few days when I came onboard how curious the crew was about me. On various occasions during the first week that I was working outside, I had a daily visit from 5 different crew members. I felt like Ms. Popularity! The shocking news was that I actually started becoming a lot more comfortable once I was introduced to more crew members onboard. It is funny how a simple introduction can really brighten your day – I had this on a daily basis for the first week. Once I was going into my second week onboard, I already knew everyone. Jess, Jodie, Olga, and Silje were the first individuals that approached me when I first stepped foot on the Viking Vision – “Helicopter Ride to Viking Vision; the Quest for Sperm Whales.” Within the second day onboard, I started watching movies at night with the girls. Between their daily visits and our movie nights, I quickly had the opportunity to get to know each of them fairly well. Perhaps, this is one of the best things that I like about working offshore; you have the chance to interact with different cultures in small settings and get to witness their “true colors.” Thus, the closed quarters bring you closer together, especially when you see each other a few times every day. It is definitely hard to find people that you connect with really quickly, but when you do find that connection it is absolutely sheer brilliance. When I was accepted as part of the crew, I was able to live in the moment and appreciated what friends/colleagues surrounded me. I felt at ease, relaxed, and fortunate to have these positive individuals in my life. Most importantly, I was able to just be me.

Lost in Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008

2.  Learning Norwegian:

I learned a great deal from Jan, especially when it came to learning Norwegian from him during the 2 months that we shared onboard – “Embracing Norwegian Culture; Hyggelig å møte deg.”  One of my favorite quotes that Jan taught me in Norwegian was, “veldig kul;” which was defined as “very cool.” I adore learning other languages; working offshore is the perfect opportunity for me to do take full advantage of learning not only the language of the respected country, but also the historical significances of that country. I feel blessed to work with a beautiful mixture of nationalities – I love listening to stories about their country and why they respect and love their country. If you want a mind-twisting endeavor, I would recommend learning a language. I have always wanted to travel to Norway – now here is my chance to not only take the title of the typical tourist setting foot in Norway for the first time, but I also have the opportunity to actually mingle with the locals. Once I arrive in Norway, I am going to try my best to speak their language. One of the most considerate gestures you can make while traveling in another country is to speak their language. Even if you pronounce a few words incorrectly, the locals will still respect you and admire your strength to try. There is nothing worse than an arrogant American who sets forth to explore a country and refuses to not use the local language. Must you be reminded that you are in their country? People are much more receptive if you make an effort to speak their language – this can turn a frustrating experience into the trip of a lifetime.

Orange Kiss; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008



3.  Sighting pods of Sperm whales:

Before I went on this project, I made an effort to learn about what I would be interacting with in the wild. I remember reading several great articles on Sperm whales, which flared my enthusiasm and intensified my fascination for these magnificent creatures – “The Pursuit for the Sperm Whale; the Great Legend of Moby Dick.”  In all of my readings, I translated that Sperm whales were simply deep sea leviathans. For decades scientists and researchers have been trying to understand the mechanisms behinds their deep dives, the communication of patterned sounds that they create, and their great impact on the oceans. One of the articles that I read emphasized, “there is one question that overshadows all the others: is there any other being that bundles together so many extremes? Sperm whales are the largest-toothed animals in the world, have the longest intestines, the biggest brains and the largest noses. Their dives may be the deepest and longest of any mammal – and even with their numbers drastically reduced by whaling, they still take as much food out of the ocean each year as all of mankind’s fisheries put together. They live in the deepest oceans, ranging from the equator to the edges of the ice caps (the females live mostly in the tropics and the males, which are three times larger, at the poles). And such is their impact on the planet that the iron in the feces of Antarctica’s sperm whales fertilizes enough phytoplankton to slow the impact of global warming.”

A New Day Will Come Tomorrow; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008

Out of all the creatures of the deep ocean, the Sperm whale enjoys most legendary status for its immortalizing in Moby Dick. Some of the remaining mysteries of the Sperm whale will soon become clear, but it may take decades to accomplish this task. Sperm whales significantly sized large brains and cultures present a greater challenge – which has humans scratching their heads. We need to probe their learning, their thoughts and values – and, in the process, give humanity a glimpse of what Moby Dick’s motivation really was.

A Penn State Sky; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008


4.  Visioning a planet of such beauty, intertwined with sunsets:

I have always liked clouds and sunsets. Now since I work on the ocean and view daily sunrises and sunsets, I have fallen in love with these beautiful displays. I seem to not get enough of them – definitely a highlight of my day! Plus, they make excellent photographic subjects! Though land was not in sight, the sunrise and sunsets were not a disappointment over pure vast ocean. One of my absolute favorite things that I love about photographing and witnessing these blessed miracles is that your 5 senses take you to a new level of tranquility. Imagine the warmth of the ocean breeze running through your hair, the taste of saltwater on your lips, the overwhelming smell of fresh fish mixing in the ocean breeze, the sight of an empowering body of light kissing the horizon goodnight, and the touch of your cold camera pressed up against your face as you are taking the last few photos of this incredible moment. Honestly, sometimes I cannot explain in words why I love the offshore lifestyle; however, this moment that I just described is a clear representation on why I love working on the water.  

Golden Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008

Sexy Dexter Morgan; Popular TV show, “Dexter”







5.  Obsessing over Dexter Morgan:


I have never heard of the TV show “Dexter” until I first started working on this project. The instant that I watched the first episode I was literally hooked – it was almost like I could watch the entire first season in 1 day if given the opportunity! I have never felt that way about another show at that time – Dexter pulled me in by the absolutely intoxicating complexity of his character. Meet Dexter Morgan, the protagonist of the series, he is a sociopathic serial killer who targets other killers. By day, he is a forensic blood spatter analyst with the Miami Metro Police Department. He is the biological son of Laura Moser and Joe Driscoll and the biological brother of Brian Moser, also known as the Ice Truck Killer. This show grabbed my attention, because Dexter is not your average serial killer; he is best described as Batman cleaning the bad guys off the streets, in this case he is killing the bad guys and putting their remains in the harbor. Slightly different approach to the Batman series, but the reason behind it makes the show worth while watching. For instance, Dexter only kills individuals who fit a prolific and precise “moral code” taught to him by his late father Harry Morgan, and developed very thoroughly throughout each kill.  Mostly all of his victims have specifically committed murder and have not showed any remorse for their actions – he seeks this sinner and puts matters in his own hands. Maybe I enjoy this show, because there is a dark place in each and every one of us, as Dexter calls it his “Dark Passenger?” Maybe few of us can actually keep this inside of us and others well, let this mind-controlling demon out to play every once in a while? Whatever the case is, this show is the epitome of sin and a lack of impulse control that some of us are born with.  

Serenity; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008

I would suggest if you have not watched it yet, definitely put it on your list! I have successfully introduced this show to every project that I have worked on. This show has become the topic in our daily conversations – there is a reason for this; definitely watch an episode, you will not be disappointed! 

Cloudy Skies; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008

Embracing Norwegian Culture; Hyggelig å møte deg


Majestic Mountains; Norway 06.2005
My first day on the Viking Vision“Helicopter Ride to Viking Vision; the Quest for Sperm Whales” I had a bit of a culture shock! As I was eating lunch in the galley, I scanned around the room and discovered a huge crew of diversity that I was never subjected to growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania. The galley staff ranged from Filipinos and Norwegians, while all the bridge crew were Norwegians. On the other hand, the seismic department comprised of British, Europeans, Canadians, and a solo American. The other biologists with me onboard were Americans; between me and the other Americans presently onboard the total that we accumulated was 5 bodies. You can see the Americans we a bit our numbered! I needed this to help me learn more about countries and various cultures. Unlike the Boston project – “Thanks for the Memories; My Recollections of the Boston, Massachusetts Project,” majority of the crew were Americans. This did not stop me from welcoming the opportunity to interact with an assortment of backgrounds in one common setting. Ever since I was a little girl I loved learning about civilizations other than my own. It is very refreshing to know that everyone you meet has an interesting story to tell – none of us are the same. 
I met several unique and fun individuals that I still remain in good touch with. One of the coolest Norwegian chief officers that I worked with, Jan, took me aside on my second day onboard  – he asked me to inform him when marine mammals were in the prospect area. I joked with him and told him that he would able to perceive this due to my ecstatic round of jumping exercises on the helideck. That was the moment when I appreciated that Jan was a really nice guy and cared about the environment and its surroundings. He took a liking to me with my witty sarcasm and offered that night in the galley if I wanted to learn Norwegian? Of course, I said “YES;” – mainly for the reasons because of my excitement to learn a new language, but also because the secondary language onboard was Norwegian. So began my next 6 weeks of learning how to make basic and complex conversations with the bridge crew. 
Welcome Sign; Ølevsvåg, Norway 06.2005


Important Key in Pronunciation:
A as in father         E as in bed        I as in beat       U as in food                 Æ as in mad      Ø as in hurt                     Å as in ball

The Norwegian Alphabet:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Æ Ø Å

Pronunciation Peculiarities:
*The final “d” in “god” is not pronounced.
*The final “t” in “det” is not pronounced.
*”Gjør” is pronounced kind of like “your” in English.
*”Er” is pronounced like “are” in English.
*”Jeg” is pronounced “yahy.”
*The “h” in “hvordan,” “hvor,” and “hva” is not pronounced.

**

These were compliments of the Captain. He stressed these pronunciation peculiarities on the first day that I started speaking his language – very helpful when learning to correctly emphasize these words.

Special Norwegian Pronunciations:
Most consonants are pronounced similar to English, with these exceptions:
J is pronounced like the “y” in yes; R is a little more “rolled” than the English R
KJ, KI and KY make a soft k-sound without actually blocking the throat – the air makes a sound as it squeezes out
SJ, SKY, SKJ and SKI as in shop
First Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:
How to Introduce Yourself:
My Norwegian is bad.
              Norsken min er dårlig.
I need to practice my Norwegian
              Jeg trenger å øve på norsken min/Jeg må øve på norsken min.
Don’t worry!
              Du trenger ikke bekymre deg
Solving a Misunderstanding:
I’m Sorry! (if you don’t hear something)
Unnskyld?
Sorry (for a mistake)
Unnskyld / Beklager
No Problem!
Ikke noe problem
Can You Say It Again?
Kan du si det igjen?
Can You Speak Slowly?
Kan du snakke sakte?
Write It Down Please!
Skriv det ned er du grei.
I Don’t Understand!
Jeg forstår ikke
I Don’t Know!
Jeg vet ikke
I Have No Idea.
Jeg har ingen anelse.
What’s That Called In Norwegian?
Hvordan sier man det på norsk?
How Do You Say “Please” In Norwegian?
Hvordan sier man “please” på norsk?
What Is This?
Hva er dette?

Norwegian Chief Officer Jan; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
**
Jan told me that I would get used to the language eventually! Apparently he assumed that I would need to learn the second section “Solving a Misunderstanding” really well – due to the lack of Norwegian language in my household. He felt this was essential to learn the fourth day of our session. I also thought his humor displayed well in the basic skills he taught me in my very first session “How to Introduce Yourself.”
Eagerly Awaiting the Language Session to Begin; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
 
Second Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:
Hi!
Hei!
Good morning!
God morgen!
Good evening!
God kveld!
Welcome! (to greet someone)
Velkommen!
How are you?
Hvordan har du det?/Hvordan går det?
I’m fine, thanks!
Jeg har det bra takk/Det går bra takk
And you?
Enn med deg?
Good/ So-So.
Bra/Passe bra
Thank you (very much)!
(Tusen) Takk!
You’re welcome! (for “thank you”)
Vær så god!
Hey! Friend!
Hei! Venn!
What’s new?
Hva skjer?
Nothing much
Ikke mye
Good night!
God natt!
See you later!
Ser deg senere!/Sees senere!
Good bye!
Hadet bra!
Endless Valleys; Norway 06.2005

Third Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:
Norwegian Common Expressions:
Good/ Bad/ So-So
Bra / Dårlig / Så-så
Big/ Small
Stor / Liten
Today/ Now
I dag / Nå
Tomorrow/ Yesterday
I morgen / I går
Yes/ No
Ja / Nei
Here you go! (when giving something)
Værsågod
Do you like it?
Liker du det?
I really like it!
Jeg liker det veldig godt!
I’m hungry/ thirsty.
Jeg er sulten / tørst
In The Morning/ Evening/ At Night.
Om morgenen / kvelden / natta
This/ That. Here/There
Dette / Det. Her / Der
Me/ You/ Him/ Her
Meg / Deg/ Han / Henne
Really!
Virkelig? (Means real)
Look!
Se!
Hurry up!
Kjapp deg!
What? Where?
Hva? Hvor?
What time is it?
Hva er klokken?

Give me this!
Gi meg denne!

Number System:
One, Two, Three
En, To, Tre
Four, Five, Six
Fire, Fem, Seks
Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
Syv, Åtte, Ni, Ti



Beautiful Mountains Overlooking Water; Norway 06.2005

Fourth Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:
Do you speak (English/ Norwegian)?
Snakker du engelsk/ norsk?
Just a little.
Bare litt
What’s your name?
Hva er navnet ditt?
My name is …
Mitt navn er …
Mr…/ Mrs.…/ Miss…
Herr … / Fru …
Nice to meet you!
Hyggelig å møte deg
You’re very kind!
Du er veldig snill
Where are you from?
Hvor er du fra?
I’m from (the U.S/ Norway)
Jeg er fra …
I’m (American)
Jeg er amerikansk
Where do you live?
Hvor bor du?
I live in (the U.S/ Norway)
Jeg bor i …
Did you like it here?
Liker du deg her?
Norway is a wonderful country
… er et fint land
What do you do for a living?
Hva er det du jobber med? (What do you work with?)


I’ve been learning Norwegian for 1 month
Jeg har lært (Norsk) i en måned.
Sky Landscape; Norway 06.2005


Fifth Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:
Asking for Help and Directions

I’m lost
Jeg har gått meg bort
Can I help you?
Kan jeg hjelpe deg?
Can you help me?
Kan du hjelpe meg?
Where is the (bathroom/ pharmacy)?
Hvor er (toalettet/apoteket)?
Go straight! then turn left/ right!
Gå rett fram! Snu så til venstre/høyre!


One moment please!
Et øyeblikk!
Hold on please! (phone)
Vent litt, er du snill!
How much is this?
Hva koster denne?
Excuse me …! (to ask for something)
Unnskyld meg …!
Excuse me! ( to pass by)
Unnskyld meg …!
Come with me!
Bli med meg!

Green Earth; Norway 06.2005
**
The second to last week before my departure the Captain kept telling me that week that he had something special to show me. I had no clue what he was referring to, but when I first came into the TV lounge I noticed a big group of Norwegians that he gathered for the event. The Captain told me that if I wanted to learn Norwegian, the best idea would be to visit his beautiful country. I asked him what his country looked like and all of a sudden someone turned off the lights and a movie started playing. A green mixture of pine forests and endless valleys filled the screen – the video was shot from a helicopter and we were looking down below at its majestic existence. The video itself was really cool; you felt like you were in this helicopter portrayed in the video – where you would soar over large lakes, ocean, and cities. At the end of the film, the Captain leaned over and said now that you saw the country; go back to learning the basic phrases on what one would say if they were to visit the country. 

Close-up of Valleys; Norway 06.2005


Sixth Week’s Lesson of Norwegian:


I like Norwegian
Jeg liker (Norsk)
Oh! That’s good!
Oh! Det er bra!
How old are you?
Hvor gammel er du?
I’m (twenty, thirty…) years old.
Jeg er (tyve, tretti..) år gammel.
I have to go
Jeg må gå.
I will be right back!
Kommer straks tilbake.
Wish Someone Something

Good luck!
Lykke til!
Happy birthday!
Gratulerer med dagen!
Happy new year!
Godt nytt år
Merry Christmas!
God jul

Congratulations!
Gratulerer


I’d like to visit Norway one day
Jeg har lyst til å besøke Norge en dag
Say hi to Silje for me
Si hei til Silje for meg
Bless you (when sneezing)
Prosit
Good night and sweet dreams!
Godt natt og drøm søtt!

Reflection; Norway 06.2005

**

Every night when I would finish work, Jan would always tell me “God natt min kjære skatt.” I was uncertain what this meant until the second week of the trip when I asked my good friend Silje. The phrase means “Good night my sweet treasure.” 


Further Phrases I Taught Myself:
I love you!
Jeg elsker deg
I missed you so much!
Jeg savnet deg så mye!
Monday                        Mandag
Tuesday                        Tirsdag
Wednesday                   Onsdag
Thursday                       Torsdag
Friday                            Fredag
Saturday                        Lørdag
Sunday                          Søndag
Day                                Dag
Week                             Uke
Month                           Måned
Year                               År
Yesterday                     I går
Tomorrow                      I morgen



Mountain Mixed with Clouds; Norway 06.2005
**
A Prankster Onboard:

During the second day of learning Norwegian, I was very happy with my progress. I asked Jan to teach me a longer phrase – one that I could say to the Captain that would allow me to thank him for having me onboard his ship. Jan taught me, “Vil du komme hjem med meg – I assumed (first mistake) that this phrase was an appropriate expression to tell the Captain later that evening. Right before I was headed downstairs to find the Captain and express my new found phrase that I learned, I repeated the phase one more time to Jan. He reassured me that this phrase meant, “Thank you for having me onboard Captain;” in reality the phrase meant something completely different! I ran downstairs and told the Captain “Vil du komme hjem med meg” in my enthusiastic voice. He looked me with a crooked smile and glanced at his wedding ring. The Chief Engineer who was in his late twenties was coming around the corner and he stopped him for a moment. The Captain asked me to repeat what I had just said again. At this time, I obviously knew that I was saying something wrong or maybe I just messed up the pronunciation a little bit? Regardless, I knew something was not right. The Chief Engineer replied, “Well when we get off the ship at crew change, then maybe.” Shocked, I did not know how to respond or what I even inquired about. They both started laughing and I decided to join in on the “Make fun of Jessica session!” The Captain smiled at me and revealed that I had asked him, “Will you come home with me?” I was mortified at that instant; he chuckled again and said next time Jan teaches you something; I would definitely Google it first! From that moment on, I Googled everything I was taught!
Lesson to be learned – Always make sure you are properly pronouncing the words, also do research what you are articulating! You never know how many pranksters are waiting for you to learn their language, so that they can teach you the wrong expressions at times. Those cheeky individuals! 
Who says languages cannot be fun to learn? I had a blast not only speaking another language, but learning about the history behind this complex language.

A Look into the World of a Marine Mammal Scientist; in the Land of Rigs, Ships, and Conservation

 
Helicopter Landing; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
 
Before I begin to tell you about the projects that I have worked offshore in this next chapter; we must first go back to the beginning. As you have seen from my past project in Boston, Massachusetts – “Thanks for the Memories; My Recollections of the Boston, Massachusetts Project,” the role of a Marine Mammal Scientist is quite diverse. 
Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008
When I started working in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), I had begun to implement specific guidelines, as well as fulfill various roles. Though there were no documented North Atlantic right whales in the GOM, there were several distinct specimens that were new to me and very popular within these waters. For instance, before this project I had learned that one of the most important and endangered species that were found within the GOM were Sperm whales.  I did not know much about Sperm whales at the time, but I was soon able to find out a great deal about them working in their natural environment. I was not working with Commercial Scuba Divers on a pipeline project this time; however, I was working with the Oil & Gas Industry on what is worldly recognized as a seismic survey. I had no idea what seismic surveys were, but I was about to find out firsthand what this entitled. What are seismic surveys you may ask? I discovered that seismic surveys were carried out principally for the purposes exploration and the management of hydrocarbon reserves. To further understand the Oil & Gas Industry and their responsibilities offshore, we must first understand the environmental consultants behind them – this will allow us to gain a deeper understanding in their roles to the environment.


Main Role of a Marine Mammal Scientist:
Whether we are working in the GOM or worldwide there is one mission that we stay focused on – we are professional environmental consultants and as scientists our duty is to carefully examine the waters looking for whales, other marine mammals, and sea turtles using the naked eye and hand-held binoculars provided by the seismic vessel operator and/or our own. The Marine Mammal Scientists will stand watch in a suitable location that will not interfere with navigation or operation of the vessel – this affords the observers an optimal view of the sea surface. The biologists will provide 360 degree coverage surrounding the seismic vessel. This 360 degree presents the opportunity to adjust their positions appropriately to ensure adequate coverage of the entire area. These observations must be consistent, diligent, and free of distractions for the duration of the “watch.”
Helicopter and Oil Rig at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
In recent years there has been increased concern for the effect of man-made noise pollution in the ocean, particularly upon cetaceans – which are known to be sensitive to sound. As a result, environmental regulations have been introduced in an attempt to minimize negative impacts on marine wildlife. These guidelines have focused on the Oil & Gas Industry’s seismic exploration for offshore oil – they center on the practice of delaying or shutting down the use of airguns if a whale or dolphin is sighted nearby. A Marine Mammal Scientist will implement these regulations in the field.
When onboard the seismic vessel, the Marine Mammal Scientist job is two-fold:
    * To spot sensitive wildlife species
    * To ensure adherence to the guidelines
Spotting, and identifying, animals involves long hours of visual surveys. Detecting cetaceans with hydrophones is known as Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), and this is an increasingly common technique used in addition to visual surveys. Ensuring adherence to guidelines requires a thorough knowledge of the regulations, understanding of the operations, and the ability to communicate effectively with the crew.  In some circumstances guidelines may be open to interpretation or the environmental conditions unique and the Marine Mammal Scientist will be called upon to give advice on a sensible mitigation protocol.
As well as the seismic exploration industry, Marine Mammal Scientists may also be required during; oil rig decommissioning, where disused oil platform pilings on the seabed are removed by large amounts of explosives, marine construction projects and; military trials of powerful new active sonar systems. 
Golden Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008
Noise from human activity in the ocean environment is likely to increase – and become a bigger environmental issue. Discussion of how to minimize the negative effects of noise upon whales, dolphins, and other marine-life will no doubt continue between industry, government agencies, military, environmental organizations and academics. It will be the Marine Mammal Scientist who puts this into practice in the field.

Seismic Survey Boat; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008


Shut-down Protocol for the Quest of Sperm Whales:


In the GOM according to the NTL guidelines, at any time a whale is observed within an estimated 500 meters (1,640 feet) of the sound source array (“exclusion zone”), whether due to the whale’s movement, the vessel’s movement, or because the whale surfaced inside the exclusion zone, the observer will call for the immediate shut-down of the seismic operation, including airgun firing (the vessel may continue on its course but all airgun discharges must cease).
The vessel operator must comply immediately with such a call by an on-watch visual observer. Any disagreement or discussion should occur only after shut- down. When no marine mammals or sea turtles are sighted for at least a 30-minute period, ramp- up of the source array may begin. Ramp-up cannot begin unless conditions allow the sea surface to be visually inspected for marine mammals and sea turtles for 30 minutes prior to commencement of ramp-up (unless the method described in the section entitled “Experimental Passive Acoustic Monitoring” is used). Thus, ramp-up cannot begin after dark or in conditions that prohibit visual inspection (fog, rain, etc.) of the exclusion zone. 
Oil Rig after Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008
Any shut-down due to a whale(s) sighting within the exclusion zone must be followed by a 30-minute all-clear period and then a standard, full ramp-up. Any shut-down for other reasons, including, but not limited to, mechanical or electronic failure, resulting in the cessation of the sound source for a period greater than 20 minutes, must also be followed by full ramp-up procedures. In recognition of occasional, short periods of the cessation of airgun firing for a variety of reasons, periods of airgun silence not exceeding 20 minutes in duration will not require ramp-up for the resumption of seismic operations if: (1) visual surveys are continued diligently throughout the silent period (requiring daylight and reasonable sighting conditions), and (2) no whales, other marine mammals, or sea turtles are observed in the exclusion zone. If whales, other marine mammals, or sea turtles are observed in the exclusion zone during the short silent period, resumption of seismic survey operations must be preceded by ramp-up.



Visual Monitoring Enforcing Guidelines:

Visual monitoring will begin no less than 30 minutes prior to the beginning of ramp-up and continue until seismic operations cease or sighting conditions do not allow observation of the sea surface (e.g., fog, rain, darkness). If a marine mammal or sea turtle is observed, the observer should note and monitor the position (including lat./long. of vessel and relative bearing and estimated distance to the animal) until the animal dives or moves out of visual range of the observer. Make sure you continue to observe for additional animals that may surface in the area, as often there are numerous animals that may surface at varying time intervals
In other words, my position in the GOM was the governing body responsible for implementing mitigation measures to protect marine mammals and turtles during seismic survey operations within the Gulf of Mexico. The NTL guidelines were enforced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Services). The role of the Marine Mammal Scientist is to be present on the ships during offshore operations and to act immediately to protect marine mammals should they enter an exclusion zone (usually 500 meters) prior to operations. Marine Mammal Scientists will advise personnel onboard to delay operations until the animals are at a safe distance and also to record behavior and sightings at other times.
Crane at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008



The Effect of Passive Acoustic Monitoring:
The Marine Mammal Scientist must first be able to detect marine mammals – this is done by visual and passive acoustic monitoring. Visual monitoring is conducted by using the highest platform with the best all-round vision and using simply a pair of binoculars the Marine Mammal Scientist scans the surrounding areas for animals. Visual monitoring is done in all observation work.
In addition passive acoustic monitoring may also be carried out. Marine mammals spend most of their time underwater and for those species that are very vocal and are deep divers such as sperm whales – acoustic monitoring can be conducted as well as visual monitoring to increase the likelihood of detection. Acoustic monitoring also allows for the Marine Mammal Scientist to detect animals at night. Passive Acoustic Monitoring is conducted by deploying hydrophone cables and monitoring in-coming signals on computers with specially designed acoustic software.
Creativity; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
Passive acoustic monitoring is encouraged for both borehole & surface seismic operations.  “Monitoring for sperm whales with a passive acoustic array by an observer proficient in its use will allow ramp-up and the subsequent start of a seismic survey during times of reduced visibility (darkness, fog, rain, etc.) when such ramp-up otherwise would not be permitted using only visual observers.  If you use passive acoustic monitoring, include an assessment of the usefulness, effectiveness, and problems encountered with the use of that method of marine mammal detection in the reports described in this NTL.  A description of the passive acoustic system, the software used, and the monitoring plan should also be reported to MMS at the beginning of its use.”
Not all projects worldwide use PAM; however, with increasingly Oil & Gas companies searching for the valuable resource of oil, PAM will be utilized more frequently.  As the search continues for “liquid gold,” additional habitats and marine mammals are being affected.




Seismic Airguns Impact on Marine Wildlife:
Projects requiring Marine Mammal Scientists and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators have arisen due to concerns regarding the levels of man-made noise in the ocean and how this may affect marine life, in particular, marine mammals and turtles.
The use of an airgun or airgun arrays while conducting seismic operations may have an impact on marine wildlife, including marine mammals and sea turtles. Some marine mammals, such as the Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), and all sea turtles that inhabit the GOM are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). All marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
In order to protect marine mammals and sea turtles during seismic operations, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requires seismic operators to use ramp-up and visual observation procedures when conducting seismic surveys. Procedures for ramp-up, protected species observer training, visual monitoring and reporting are described in detail in this NTL. These mitigation measures apply to geophysical activities conducted under lease terms, for all seismic survey operations conducted in waters deeper than 200 meters (656 feet) throughout the GOM and, in the GOM waters east of 88.0° W. longitude, for all seismic survey operations conducted regardless of water depth. Performance of these mitigation measures is also a condition of the approval of applications for geophysical permits. You must demonstrate your compliance with these mitigation measures by submitting to MMS certain reports detailed in this NTL.

Stern at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008


How to Become a Marine Mammal Scientist:
Individuals likely to work on projects as Marine Mammal Scientists are those which have additional biological or environmental qualifications and/or have experience of working at sea. To work in this particular field and in some areas of the UK where marine mammals are more abundant, you will be required to have experience of working with marine mammals whether this is formally as a researcher or through voluntary work.
Marine Mammal Scientist does usually have a strong background in Marine Biology and Conservation. Increasingly, the Oil & Gas Industry is employing a ‘best practice’ attitude to environmental commitment and voluntarily taking on Marine Mammal Scientists as independent observers in areas where no government regulations exist.

Helicopter Ride to Viking Vision; the Quest for Sperm Whales

Viking Vision; Gulf of Mexico 01.2008
I woke up the next morning at 5am for my very first helicopter flight. A group of thirty something of my colleagues were transported by bus with me to a location next to the New Orleans airport – this particular area was separated by a fence that lead into the runway of the incoming and outgoing airplane traffic of the New Orleans airport. To be perfectly honest, I never knew a place like this existed!  Once we arrived at the base of where our helicopter was departing from, we had to check in. This was a strange set up, because we had to individually stand in line, weigh our bags, weigh ourselves, and provide passport or other photo identification. After we finished this process, my colleagues and I waited patiently for our ship to be called – when our ship was called, then we would be able to board the helicopter. One of the girl’s explained to me that we could potentially be waiting anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours, maybe longer, for our ship to be requested. Luckily, our wait was roughly over an hour – we grabbed our luggage and herded into a back room. We were gathered in a small room where we watched a Helicopter safety video – the video focused on the type of model that we were entering, the safety precautions, and the points of origin on where to properly board the helicopter within. 

Helicopter Grounds; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008
My Helicopter to Board; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008
Helicopter Control Gauges; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008

Before Take-off: Derek and I; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008

Helicopter Pilots; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008
The video was complete and we were shortly on our way to fly via helicopter to the ship Viking Vision. I never forget my first helicopter ride – I just had finished giving my bags to the helicopter pilot and he could tell that I was slightly nervous by a few of the questions that I had asked. When I jumped in the helicopter, there were ear muffs and life jackets provided to the passengers – I have to admit I looked pretty goofy in these ear muffs, but we were not going for style! The engines were extremely loud, so I had put the ear muffs on. The only sound I heard was the low vroom of the engine. After the helicopter pilots checked their gauges and confirmed with the operations manager that we were safe to depart, we took off with the breeze! The sights were incredible – we flew over the tall trees and fence that separated us from the New Orleans airport and onto the runway with the airplanes! I did not quite know what to think about this, besides in the back of my mind I was hoping for no airplane to land at that particular second!  The helicopter begun ascending and we were headed in the direction of the ocean. Luckily, I had a great spot and was situated directly next to the emergency window. 
Helipad of Viking Vision in View of Helicopter; Gulf of Mexico 01.2008
My Helicopter Landing on the Viking Vision; Gulf of Mexico 01.2008

The helicopter ride was about a good 2 hours – the ocean never looked so beautiful! I was quite content starring at the water, while most of my colleagues had fallen asleep. I have never experienced looking at the water from only a short distance below – most airplane rides are too high up to see any great views of the ocean landscape. While I was mesmerized by the tranquility of the water beneath my feet, I had realized at that moment that this is environment suites me rather well – I could get used to this particular lifestyle! Soon the ship came into vision and the helicopter had a graceful landing. I remember thinking, “I wonder what is in store for me on this project?”  The helicopter came to a complete stop on the helipad of the ship. My colleagues and I walked outside when gave the proper permission, grabbed our luggage, and trekked down the stairs. I recall a lot of published research papers on Sperm Whales that I read on the Boston project – “Thanks for the Memories; My Recollections of the Boston, Massachusetts Project.”  I was thrilled to have the chance to research Sperm Whales on this project and gain a further understanding of the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. As I looked out at the ocean and on towards the horizon, I knew that I was in the moment that I was looking forward to my entire life.

“Better Single, Than Sorry;” a Little Re-Evaluation of My Love Life

It is amazing how a good book can put your life into perspective a little more clearly.  I am not here to advertise for this particular book, but as I left PSU a lot of important events happened that were what I call, “Life changing.” I finally let go of the life I had with my college sweetheart, I ended up becoming best friends with my ex-boyfriend who I was on and off in a relationship with for quite some time, and I had moved to Florida solely for my new career. I had discovered the new age of dating in Florida – most of the guys that I dated while l was living there I met through mutual friends. One of final draws that made me re-evaluate the guys that I attracted happened right after I finished my manatee dredge job and started packing to leave for my next project in the Gulf of Mexico.
I met this guy Mike at a sports pub nearby my house – I had a good feeling about this date, because he was a charming, young, and an athletic umpire for the Florida Marlins. Mike explained to me that him and 2 other umpires would take turns during certain games, but most of the time he worked by himself. As the night drew on, he kept talking about himself, his umpire issues, and his gay brother (yes, kind of random!). I realized at this time that we really had nothing in common, besides that we both loved sports. Sports were a great topic, but in order to be with someone there has to be that “connection” – well the connection between Mike and I was non-existent. After I drove myself home, I laid there thinking why do I attract these types of guys and why do I tend to date them? A few days ago, I went to the local bookstore in the area and purchased the book, “Better Single, Than Sorry.” I thought it would be a great read on my next project – besides I kind of like the Sex & the City vibe that it had. Plus, it emphasized that being single is a time to have fun, learn new things, grow, and blossom—not a time to feel desperate or depressed, so cherish it! Instead of waiting to read it on the ship, I decided to begin reading it that night! I could not put it down!
I bought this book with the intentions that I could not only learn a thing or two, but I could get myself to the level that I wanted to be on. My thoughts were that once I was on that level, everything else would fall into place, guys included. I have absorbed some great material for this book. I was really impressed with how this book seemed to relate itself to my current lifestyle.  With this being said, I wanted to briefly recap why I really enjoyed this book and overview 10 of the tips that I had learned. The funny thing was that these 10 tips were from only chapter 1! The main reason I brought up this book and why this associated itself with the travelingmarinebiologist, was because a few months after finishing this book I met my husband. If this was not “Life changing,” then I do not know what is!
10 Tips from Chapter 1 – “Better Single, Than Sorry”

1.       Let us be honest. No woman really wants to be alone for the rest of her life; however, some women have their reasons to remain single. But does alone mean you are doomed to be miserable forever? Definitely not! And does being single have to equal lonely?  No way! You can have the best time of your life when you are single, but you would you not know that from our relationship obsessed society, where celebrity magazines devote majority of their content to who is dating whom. The wedding industry does not help either. Yet more than 1/3 of marriages ends in divorce, and countless other couples languish in unions that should not have happened in the first place. Do not become a statistic- love yourself and never settle for anyone!   There is nothing wrong with wanting to find a man who gives us that certain feeling in our stomachs – and especially in our hearts.  
2.      Because a relationship ends, this only brings hope that the relationship that you longed for or simply the relationship that will not end is so much closer now. Dating is supposed to be fun and well let us face it, quite an amusing activity. Live life to the fullest and know that you are becoming the person that you want to become – pairing with someone as equally fabulous as you feels amazing.   
3.      Single has its perks, for instance, what if you dated a guy just to get him off your back or to stop asking you out all the time? What if that made him happy, but not you? Being single is not a bad thing; it is a wonderful time to liberate the feeling of being independent and not having to answer to anyone or for anybody. 
4.      There are a few stories that are mentioned in this book. I will mention one that I thought was really good and definitely made me think. A married wife who just lost someone close to her realized that her husband was not there for her at all. In a way, this death made her acknowledge that she deserved better and for a great guy to be there when she needed him the most, especially in a situation like this one. Unfortunately, it took this tragic event to re-evaluate her life and her commitment to her husband. She settled for her husband because she wanted to be married and thought he was a good catch – but lately realized that he was a great catch for someone else, not her. At the time she thought that he was the best that she could get. And since her divorce she finally came to terms that she is a lot more confident and definitely deserves so much more than what she settled for. 
5.      Dating can be frustrating and exciting at the same time. But there is nothing worse than being in a bad relationship.  It all begins with the belief that you are single and fabulous – a great Sex & the City phrase. So many women are desperate because most of them are insecure. We owe it to ourselves to be content. It is important to be surrounded by people and things that make us feel good. Every day it is significant to remind yourself that you are a valuable and motivated human being that deserves to be happy and find your prince charming.   If we do not have that confidence, we can fall to the temptations to settle because of our friend’s weddings and friends who simply are already in a relationship.
6.      Painful relationships take a lot of heartache, but we have to remember that even painful splits are worth it in the long run.   Those broken relationships teach us about our own needs, the warning signs, and the wisdom not to make the same mistake twice. And always as devastating as the breakup, remember life goes on
7.      Why a boyfriend should not matter – being single is not a curse. All the time you hear girls saying, “I NEED a boyfriend.” In other words, what they are really saying is that they are desperate, pathetic, and nothing really matters in this world unless they have a boyfriend – a man in their life to save them from their wretched existence.   Please tell me what is wrong with this picture? Your life should be filled with plenty of things that keep you happy and busy- yes, even without a man. You can have a great apartment, a fun job that pays you enough to stock your closest with as many clothes (jeans, shoes, etc .) that you want, wonderful friends, and of course a loving family. Just think this is the only time that you will not have to be accountable for anyone, but yourself. Once you have a boyfriend, you have to worry about checking in with him, or worrying about what he is doing when he is not with you. Also, a boyfriend entitles you to watch all the action flicks that he wants, instead of watching Legally Blonde for the millionth time. And heck, if you gain a few pounds, only you notice. 
8.      Do not get yourself down about not having someone right now. The person that you are waiting for that reaches all of your expectations and more maybe has not come around yet. There is no time line to tell you when this will happen; you just have to patient and have fun doing what you are doing now. Be optimistic and reveling in the freedom you have. There is no reason to feel pathetic if you have a fulfilling life. Do not sacrifice all of the benefits of being single – that is your happiness – for a guy who is simply not worth it. We do not have boyfriends for a reason: Settling just is not an option nor should it be. This gives you time to discover new adventures, meet new people, and to focus on yourself
9.      Since there is no set schedule for when you are going to fall in love, do not sit idly waiting for a guy to come around. Being single should not stop you from doing anything! Pursue your interests and create a life that you will enjoy even while you are “without boyfriend.” And the thought of waiting for a guy never should be what limits your choices or actions. 
10.  Choose your friends wisely and remember to surround yourself with positive people who do not bring you down. Most important thing to remember is that if you meet a guy and something does happen, then that is great. What happens if it does not work out? Then it is simply his lost, not yours. You already have a wonderful life
My Initial Thoughts After I Read the First Chapter

I know that some of these are common sense, but is nice to be reminded that the first and foremost priority is to make sure that you are happy. Everything else will fall into place. And this is why I finally realize that I should not get down about not finding that “right guy.” I know he will come around, but I am not at the state right now where I could create that kind of relationship that I want. My job right now is taking me to new leaps and I do not want to be the one who does not make that jump, because I feel that I am needed elsewhere. This book, especially Chapter 1 has taught me so much about myself – it is quite ridiculous how much more confidence I felt after reading the first chapter. For once in my life, I am truly happy. I could not have better friends, family, and I am working on a passion that I had since I was a kid.   
Concluding Thoughts on “Better Single, Than Sorry”

One of the best lessons I learned from this book was to never settle! One section that has stuck with me since reading this book was a description on the routine guys that we girls sometimes date. I found myself dating the same typical guy one after another – almost the exact type of guy, but with a different name! I dated your typical surfer bums, athletic guys, and even the geeky electronic boys while living in Florida. Each guy never really had a huge difference from the last guy I dated – like I said, they seemed to be all the same! And then it happened, I met Adrian who was very different from my “routine” guys that I dated. Call me a hopeless romantic, but when I went on my first date with Adrian I skimmed back through this particular section that I had mentioned and compared Adrian to the guys that she was talking about. To my surprise, he was nothing like these guys in her book – he was different.
One of the First Pictures of Adrian and I; Cape Canaveral, Florida 04.2008
Life-Changing Events

There is a portion in the book that asks you if the guy you are dating is unique, has a good sense of humor, conceals a great personality, and is overall a “nice” guy – Adrian fit this profile. There is another question that asks you what makes this guy distinctive from your previous ex-boyfriends? Adrian was from Romania, was highly goal-driven, musically talented, loved teaching little kids how to play musical instruments, and had an amazing relationship with his family. Instead of giving him the cold shoulder and presenting him with my “planned” speech that explained how goal-driven I was and how at this particular time in my life I was neither ready nor available for a relationship, I jumped in with both feet! Here it is February 2011 and I am happy to say that we are still together and going strong! You tell me if the book led me to find an amazing relationship, instead of stumbling into “bad” ones that I could have easily fallen for if I had not gained my self-confidence?
Leading Author: Jen Schefft
A Little Background about the Author, Jen Schefft

In 2003, she got engaged in front of millions of people on television’s The Bachelor, only to see it end nine months later when the relationship just was not right anymore. A year later, she turned down an engagement on The Bachelorette, and the backlash was relentless. She was labeled a “spinster” by a celebrity magazine, and a noted national talk-show host remarked that she would be “a bachelorette for the rest of her life.” 

This is a terrible message to send to the millions of sensational single women out there, and in her book Schefft makes it her mission to let women know that it is better to be single than to be in a relationship that does not make you happy. With testimonials from women of all ages—single, married, in committed relationships, with children (even single moms) and without—this book tells you how to let go of your fear of being alone and how to love yourself and never settle for a relationship that is anything less than you deserve.