Yet merrily still they fish, nor reck
Of the piercing cold or the wave-swept deck;
And the warning fog-horn, the bell’s sad tone,
Wakens no thought of knell or moan
In those sturdy fishermen, brave and free,
As they mournfully challenge the fog-veiled sea,
Though there scarce is one but has shed a tear
For comrade or friend who has perished there.

~ C. W. Hall

Clearly Evil.

Dear Sam Shames,

Is all fog sinister? Today it seems to roll across the water like bad news, swallowing up the horizon and the sky and the ocean until everything else is out of…


Dear Sam,

Our chief scientist out here who we good-naturedly refer to as Cooper (because he looks, acts, and sounds like the shark biologist from Jaws), is a marine biologist who studies lobsters in the context of population dynamics. Lobster in Southern New England waters have not been doing well — warming waters and disease are likely the culprits — and we don’t know if there is viable habitat for lobsters, particularly juveniles, to live in around here. …


Dear Sam,

I am resoundingly incompetent as a doodler. Straight lines end up curvy, curvy lines end up straight, the faces I draw have ears coming out of cheeks and what looks like curly brackets for noses, and trees look like large stalks of broccoli with wires sticking out at one end. I thought that the inability to draw was just another shameful and unchangeable trait of mine, like sing-shouting profanities in a falsetto when stressed or eating pizza crust-first, but I think this one might actually be changeable. …


Abstract: Write your code for others.

Dear Sam,

If you are a researcher in science today, it is a guarantee that you will have to write your own code. You will also have to debug someone else’s code. On more than one occasion, you will have to debug someone else’s code that will be 100% unintelligible to you. It could be a script that someone who used to be in your lab wrote years ago to pull data off some instrument that you now have to use (and which has a manual on the company’s website but it’s behind a…


ROLL on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!

Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;

Man marks the earth with ruin; his control

Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain

The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain.

~ Lord Byron

Dear Sam,

For his own time (early 1800s), the claim that “[man’s] control stops with the shore” might not have been far off. Lord Byron, or “The Limping Devil” as family (and the more hurtful of his friends) called him, wrote his poems in the early days of the industrial revolution — when fishing boats…


Dear Sam,

We live lives that are absolutely over-flowing with magic at every turn. I don’t mean magic like the magic of a mountain vista or that of a new-born fawn taking its first clumsy steps, I mean the vegas-style slights-of-hand that take place every day and leave you feeling more and more confused and uncertain the longer you think about them.

Copperfield began his humble magician’s career in Germany, performing wizardry in exchange for handfuls of mcnuggets.

The magic I am talking about:

The average American will flush a toilet 5 times a day. There are hundreds of millions…


Dear Sam,

Whoo! yip yip yip* yippee! Other youthful mouth-whooping noises!

Leg I is done and today begins Leg II of the scallop assessment! We’re setting off for new adventures!

Well-alright-fine-okay, it might not seem particularly different from the adventures of last week, but that is to the untrained eye. There are a few key changes which are going to spice up this spicy spice cruise:

Just to be clear, I’m not on a literal spice cruise, I’m pretty sure those don’t exist anymore.

Mo’ Dredging

Leg I was 99% HabCamming. That’s 99% of your 12 hours shift sitting in front of computers and looking at pictures of mostly sand. On the upside, this means infinite opportunities to…


Dear Sam,

Today is our second and final day on shore before we shove off. I am lucky to have a friend and co-worker here who was on leg I and is sticking around for leg II. We’re striking that perfect balance between responsibilities for work and responsibilities for leisure time — we woke up early, did some work, walked about, visited a book store, and spent time familiarizing ourselves with our new purchases. I usually have a lot more trouble meeting the basic responsibilities of leisure time. If I was here alone, I could easily see myself having just…


Dear Sam,

Seeing land for the first time is like getting out of a car after a long day of road-tripping, after you’ve just spent hours stewing in the uncomfortable car humidity that is one part greasy fast-food and two parts stale human, and everyone’s a little sick of playing “fun road games”, and your legs have alternated falling asleep at least three times because you’ve been sandwiched between the window and a teetering pile of bags, coolers, and maybe beach umbrellas.

After a successful week of taking pictures of scallops and fish and the sea floor, Leg 1 of…


The true peace of God begins at any spot a thousand miles from the nearest land. — Joseph Conrad*

It’s been seven days since we’ve left port and I have been outside four times. I’ve missed every sunset, nearly every sunrise, and countless hours that could have been spent outside looking out at this wild world around me. I have plenty of excuses for this oversight but the fact remains that I am in one of the most beautiful places on earth and I have hardly looked out the window.

I’ve quickly stopped noticing incredible things around me. I understand…

michael saminsky

Likes: fisheries + ocean monitoring, smart + responsible use of technology, Jacques Cousteau, people doing stuff in low gravity, giving a good stink eye.

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