6/27/2019 Dereck L. Retana Carias

Communication is Key

“Some folks have found that the first day on the boat is the hardest”- Paul Harnik


I think the first day on the boat was not the roughest day I’ve had. The first day BACK on the boat, on the other hand, is a completely different story. In my mind, I thought I would be prepared to get right back into the flow of sampling, sieving and picking after our first trip. To my surprise, I had lost my sea legs within only a week and half of not being off-shore. Florida was only 2-4 feet seas but to me it felt like the occasional 7-foot waves we experienced back in Louisiana. But even in those Louisiana days, I was not feeling as bad as I did the first day in Florida.


I was already having a bad day, so I decided to just concentrate on my work and getting through the day. I was solemn and very quiet, which if you know me, is not my usual self. This raised concerns from Paul and the others. As a result, they would constantly check up and ask if I’ve had food and water; I would reply yes to the fluids but no to the food. I did not realize but my lack of communication came off as dismissive and worrisome which I did not intend it to. As a result, an odd tension arose due to my lack of engagement with the rest of the Paleolab.


Reflecting back to this, I realized that my mistake was not properly articulating what would best help me at the moment. I was indeed drinking lots of fluids, I did not want to eat anything until my stomach was feeling better since I had vomited three times within the first 2 hours. I knew I was taking care of myself, but everyone else did not. And that’s what lead to the tension, what lead to me feeling even more frustrated than I already was. But I now realize that Paul and the others were just concerned I was overdoing myself and not resting enough. I learned that in this type of environment, it is important to communicate with each other, not just as courtesy, but because safety is the highest priority. Above all, if you can’t stay safe, healthy and hydrated, it’s going to hinder your ability to properly contribute regardless of how hard you work. Though I was keeping myself safe and hydrated, I should have said that to the others and explained that I just was not feeling talkative.

  • on the R/V Appalachee in Florida
  • Dereck and Nicole Picking through samples
  • What is collected once we sieve through the mud
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