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Captain Chris Curl

09/21/2011, 12:00 AM by Lollie Garay
Capt. Chris loves the sea!
Capt. Chris loves the sea!


LAT 8.229 LON -49.331

 Just before Adriane disembarked, she interviewed Capt. Chris. Here’s her report:

 "Capt. Chris has worked for Scripps for 28 years after some time working on yachts and a brief stint in the merchant marines. His first job as captain was in 1991 onboard the New Horizon. He first shipped out on the Melville in 1997. His job as captain goes on for about six months a year, then another Capt. takes over in his absence."

 "After so many years being out at sea, one wonders what it is that keeps him at the helm. Well, it apparently began with a toy boat that the captain floated in any puddle he could find as a kid! After talking with him for a while, it was clear how much he loves the sea - from the science of it to its history."

 "Working for a scientific research vessel is a unique way to spend your life at sea because you are always learning something and when it comes to marine science, there are so many unknowns that you often find yourself at the forefront of discovery. I asked the captain if he felt like marine scientists are our modern day pioneers and he said yes- that in his time working for Scripps, he has seen some amazing discoveries such as the first videos of underwater eruptions in the Marshall Islands."

 "He noted that he feels best working for a research vessel because he is constantly made aware that the work he is doing is contributing to mankind’s’ understanding of the world. He also finds himself getting very engaged with the science- in particular on the research expeditions that investigate plate tectonics, seafloor mapping and coring.   (Sorry ANACONDAS). He loves the way that you can see the history of the Earths magnetism in the bathymetry and geology of the seafloor."

 "Another perk of working with scientists is that you get more time in port in between expeditions while the equipment and labs are being loaded on board and set up. This has allowed him to spend time on land in parts of the word that few people get to travel to. In his cabin, a collection of artwork, photographs and souvenirs from places as far flung as New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti and Easter Island, decorate the walls. The Captain is particularly drawn to the Pacific Islands and feels most connected to Rapanui- also known as "the navel of the earth" -a place to which he has returned on a few occasions."

 "While onboard, the captain pursues some of his hobbies such as playing the Ukulele that his father bought in Hawaii when he was just a kid-- and yes, I did get to hear him play a song! He is also an avid reader of nautical history. When I asked him if he felt a connection to the early nautical explorers such as Captain Cook, he immediately expounded on his respect for the age of explorers that went about the globe without all of the modern navigation equipment, such as GPS and the trove of navigation gear onboard that allows him to perform his job in relative comfort." 

 "At the same time, he still sees how little of the ocean has been explored, noting that we know more about the surface of mars than the seafloor of our own planet, or about the creatures from the deep that recently washed up in the aftermath of the Tsunami in Japan."

 "I was curious to know if he sees the ocean as having changed over time. The captain noted that he feels like there are some improvements at sea. For instance there has been an increase of marine mammals off the coast of southern California. Also some of the environmental regulations have improved onboard ships. For many years, ships merely dumped their trash in the ocean, a practice that is now illegal. He does see a lot more Styrofoam cups floating at sea than he used to; and he talked about the gyre in the Pacific ocean where currents converge to collect floating garbage into a matt that is TWICE size of Texas."

 "One of the main things that seems to make this captain happy is having an amazing family back in San Diego, including his obviously supportive wife of twenty eight years. They met on his first port call in Hawaii, the year he began working at Scripps. That, and of course, being at sea in a job that is satisfying and varied, with a great crew. The captain said that in order to do his job you need a good family, both at home and on the ship, and you need a lot of patience. He talked about the great crew he works with on board. When I asked him if he gets tired of being at sea day after day he replied that onboard the Melville the days are similar, but never the same!"

 More images and news to come soon from our new on-the scene reporter, Michael!!



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Question of the Day

  • Do the bacteria in the water make us sick?

    Only a few of them.  Bacteria are in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, hot springs, radioactive waste, water, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. Bacteria recycle nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as nitrogen fixation.