A Tale from a Budding Oceanographer

The Experience Of An Early Career Scientist On A EuroGO-SHIP Pilot Cruise

By Teodor Mușat, GeoEcoMar | September 12, 2023

I’m a young and passionate research assistant from Romania, eager to explore the mysteries hidden beneath the surface of the sea. I graduated from Constanta Maritime University in 2022, and have had the fortunate opportunity to join the National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and Geoecology – GeoEcoMar in Constanta, Romania. GeoEcoMar is a partner in the Horizon Europe project EuroGO-SHIP.

In November of 2022, when I entered the field of Oceanography at GeoEcoMar, a dream came true! I was able to go on ships to conduct hydrographical research under the mentorship of the brilliant minds of GeoEcoMar’s experienced scientists. And it didn’t end there, I was invited to participate in a training activity for the EuroGO-SHIP project and was introduced to a wide network of remarkable mentors and colleagues working in Ocean observation around Europe. The EuroGO-SHIP project is an exciting opportunity as it aims to enhance ship-based hydrographic observations, which includes developing and sharing best practices and equipment within the ship-based hydrography community in Europe. The project activities are in support of meeting the goals of the EU Mission to “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030” and the wider objectives of the EU Green Deal. For me personally, as an early career scientist, this project is a best-case scenario to be involved in.

On July 24th of 2023, Marta Álvarez – Chemical Oceanographer from IEO-CSIC Spain, and Yvonne Firing – Physical Oceanographer from NOC in the United Kingdom, two renowned scientists in their field, arrived in Romania to teach me and my colleagues how to use an AUTOSAL Salinometer–an instrument used to determine the salinity of water when conducting analysis of samples. It can improve the quality of data because it produces more precise information. Marta’s organisation, IEO-CSIC, loaned the salinometer to GeoEcoMar so we could train on new techniques in observing the Black Sea.A salinometer is a big, heavy piece of equipment, so you can imagine the efforts and care that went into getting it to us for the pilot’s aim of sharing equipment as well as knowledge. Fortunately the salinometer’s transportation and its installation on GeoEcoMar’s research vessel, R/V Mare Nigrum, went smoothly.

From the moment I met Marta and Yvonne, I was in awe of their expertise. The training was an immersive experience of mastering the equipment and the benefits of teamwork. They showed patience and professionalism taking me through every required step. First, we had to wear protective gloves so the samples would have no trace of contamination, then we expedited the process of taking samples with the SBE 19plus CTD Profiler equipment (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) connected to SBE 32 (12 bottle) Carousel Water Sampler. Next, we carefully took the samples to the ship-based lab, where we agitated them so the salt crystals could dissolve; and finally we were able to begin the process of measuring the actual salinity. It was a very satisfying experience to see the results of the analysis.

The next day, we were joined by more colleagues from the EuroGO-SHIP consortium for the project’s first annual meeting, which GeoEcoMar was hosting. I was happy to help with the coordination of this event and to get the opportunity to hear presentations about the various aspects of work being conducted in the project. The  discussions and brainstorming sessions were really interesting as the views of many experts from different disciplines involved in Ocean observation were shared.

The following week, I was able to put my training to practical use on a cruise. We set sail on the Mare Nigrum, to collect actual marine samples using the salinometer that Marta loaned us. During the seven day cruise, the weather was calm  letting us work from morning to sunset in favourable conditions.  I felt a mix of excitement and responsibility as I operated the equipment under the watchful eyes of Dan Vasiliu, GeoEcoMar’s Scientific Director in Constanta, who was leading the expedition. The research team’s strong sense of solidarity was added to the overall positive experience. We  took about 100 samples. Half of them were analysed during the cruise, while the other half was sent to Yvonne in the U.K. to double check the results – this is part of the EuroGO-SHIP comparison study.

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the EuroGO-SHIP project and specifically to have been trained by two exceptional mentors like Marta and Yvonne, to have acquired new skills, and gained insights from hearing about the adventures and experiences of scientists working in different regions in Europe. The training exercise and research cruise, along with meeting many other scientists from the consortium at the annual meeting, has been an enriching experience that has shaped me both personally and professionally and has instilled in me the values of perseverance, collaboration, and curiosity.

I stand on the shores of my future, ready to dive deeper into the mysteries of the sea, armed with the guidance of my mentors and the memories of an unforgettable scientific expedition. The Ocean’s secrets await, and I am eager to play my part in uncovering them and providing scientific analysis that will help the European community of Oceanographers understand our environment and better manage our Seas and the holistic climate.

With the spirit of adventure, the wisdom of my teammates by my side, and the opportunities provided within the EuroGO-SHIP framework, I look forward to the exciting discoveries and challenges that lie ahead.

By Teodor Mușat, GeoEcoMar | September 12, 2023

About the author

Name: Teodor Mușat
Work Package: WP’s 3,4
Organisation: GeoEcomar, Romania
Short bio: Teodor graduated from Constanta Maritime University in 2022. He is currently working on a Masters degree in Environmental Impact Analysis at Ovidius University also in Constanta, Romania while carrying out his duties as a Research Assistant at GeoEcoMar. His primary experience to date has been in CTD profiling, data processing and GIS.

Also mentioned in this blog are Marta, Dan and Yvonne, all active members of the EuroGO-SHIP consortium. To learn more about them, visit their profile pages: Marta Álvarez (link), Dan Vasiliu (link), Yvonne Firing (link).


Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top