Subscribe to Spirit Magazine

The annual Schade Cruise in the Department of Oceanography is a five-day research experience conducted in the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 14 students and two faculty participate each summer to undertake science experiments and provide would-be oceanographers with a taste of the profession. Last summer, students collected deep water samples for dissolved oxygen and salinity levels in waters more than 8,200 feet deep and took samples of sargassum to analyze for trace metals at different sampling stations.

The cruise is supported with gifts from Hal Schade ’67, who utilizes his IRA distributions each year to underwrite the unique learning opportunity. “Hal’s annual gift helps offset costs for this trip,” said Dr. Christina Wiederwohl ’06 ’12, cruise leader and associate department head for the Department of Oceanography. “Without him, providing this high-impact opportunity would not be possible.”

During the cruise, students work in 12-hour shifts to collect deep water samples in waters more than 8,200 feet deep and test them for dissolved oxygen and salinity levels. Top left, top right and bottom left photos provided by the Department of Oceanography; bottom right photo by Igor Kraguljac ’08.

Last year was challenging, as lost equipment and Tropical Storm Arlene abbreviated the cruise by one day. However, that kind of uncertainty is part of what makes the trip so instructive. “Oceanography is not for the faint of heart,” Wiederwohl said.

Schade experienced his own share of high-seas adventures during the seven years he spent sailing around the Caribbean in retirement. “I know these students will have the same love and respect for the ocean as I do,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for them to put their classroom learning to use. Nothing beats hands-on experience.”

He enjoys talking to Aggies before and after each cruise to hear their tales. “For many, it’s the first time they’ve been on the ocean. I’m just glad I can be part of giving that experience to them. It’s very satisfying,” he said.

Explore the five-day cruise as documented by Ryan Petre 23 and Emma Scott-Wellman 25 by using the accordion below.

5/28/2023, 23:35

Location/Coordinates: Port of Gulfport, MS, (docked)

Weather Conditions: warm, light breeze

State of the Seas: calm

Destination: Station 1

Ship’s Log Remarks: Ryan Petre ’23 (RP), pictured here​: Arrived, organized our lab space and unpacked our equipment. Captain ran through general safety. R/V Point Sur sets sail at midnight!

Photography by Igor Kraguljac ’08

5/29/23, 22:00

Location/Coordinates: 28°14’33.4” N 88°28’56.6” W

Weather Conditions: warm, light breeze

State of the Seas: calm

Destination: Station 4

Ship’s Log Remarks: Emma Scott-Wellman ’25 (ESW), pictured here​: Up for my first shift. Work continues 24 hours a day, and I’m on the night shift, midnight to noon. Always something to do! It’s neat to see varying research projects conducted in one space and learn about discoveries happening in oceanography.

Photography by Igor Kraguljac ’08

5/29/23, 23:06

Location/Coordinates: 28°14’33.4” N 88°28’56.6” W

Weather Conditions: cool, light breeze

State of the Seas: calm, small waves

Destination: Station 5

Ship's Log Remarks: RP: Cloudy with few stars visible. Spent much of today trying to adjust my sleep schedule since I’ll be working from midnight to noon. Hamburgers for lunch and barbecue for supper.

5/30/23, 12:00

Location/Coordinates: 28°26’37.7” N 88°20’42.0” W

Weather Conditions: sunny

State of the Seas: calm

Destination: Station 7

Ship’s Log Remarks: ESW: Amazing to see all the wildlife at the stations we stopped at during this shift. CTD* takes about three hours to be deployed and collect water samples, so we gazed over the side of the ship as we waited on deck. The light from the vessel attracts creatures below—fish, squid, shrimp, crabs and unknown sea creatures. So cool!

5/30/23, 12:44

Location/Coordinates: 28°31’19.3” N 88°23’05.3” W

Weather Conditions: warm, light breeze

State of the Seas: calm

Destination: Shore

Ship’s Log Remarks: RP: Rosette we use to collect water samples snapped off its cable upon returning from Station 7 and fell into the ocean. No backup. Only performed two stations on our shift before this occurred. Heading back to dock to resupply.

5/31/23, 9:44

Location/Coordinates: 29°23’12.1” N 88°41’58.9” W

Weather Conditions: sporadic rain, wind

State of the Seas: calm, but winds increasing

Destination: Station 10

Ship’s Log Remarks: RP: Spurts of rain, with conditions likely to worsen…5-foot seas expected later this week. Resupplied with materials to make a new rosette and have a new sampling plan to adjust for time lost.

5/31/23, 22:00

Location/Coordinates: 28°42’30.6” N 88°16’58.1” W

Weather Conditions: cloudy, rain

State of the Sea: rough

Destination: Station 11

Ship’s Log Remarks: ESW: Rough shift—long, wet and tiring. High seas and waves crashed against the deck, causing seasickness. Enjoyed the day despite conditions—saw how uncontrollable nature is and what a career in oceanography would be like. Work must go on!

6/1/23, 7:41

Location/Coordinates: 28°42’30.6” N 88°16’58.1” W

Weather Conditions: high winds

State of the Sea: rough

Destination: Station 13

Ship’s Log Remarks: RP: Day shift only completed two stations due to delays in constructing and testing the new CTD and worsening weather. Sampled one station overnight before the crew strongly recommended against putting the CTD in the water due to intense conditions.

6/1/23, 11:30

Location/Coordinates: 28°39’14.0” N 88°08’21.5” W

Weather Conditions: partly cloudy

State of the Seas: rough

Destination: Dock, Port of Gulfport, MS

Ship's Log Remarks: ESW: Captain made the call to return to dock early. Seas are too rough to deploy the CTD safely, and the weather system in the Gulf of Mexico was categorized as a tropical depression. Most are seasick, but chef has gone all out for our last dinner: beef Wellington, potatoes, salad, steak, banana pudding, Oreo cake and much more. Said he loves to cook for scientists and was honored to serve us because we are the world’s future problem solvers.

*CTD stands for conductivity, temperature and depth, and refers to a package of electronic instruments that measure these properties.

Ready to help Aggies set sail? To learn how you can support high-impact learning programs or fund a scholarship for oceanography students, contact Debbie Hesse ’85, assistant vice president for development, at the bottom of this page.