I enjoy sunrises and sunsets equally. Each represents a different way of approaching a day, like bookends with all the stories in between.

A sunrise is the promise of the coming day. It promises a mixture of the plans that I make and all the unknowns that can either help or hinder my plans. It’s a calling to march, once more, unto the breach. I can’t predict the result, but it’s important that I, at least, get on my feet and on my way. And some days are harder than others to moving.

When the sun begins to dip low toward the horizon, it is a time for reflection. I have discovered the mysteries and trudged through the banality of the day. I have been embraced by success and embroiled in failure. The sunset gives me that time to look back on how the day went and, more importantly, how I reacted to it. Sometimes, it is simply a moment to throw my hands into the air and let the frustrations from the day pass into shadow. In any case, perhaps there is a small crumb of wisdom I can glean from the day to make tomorrow more productive.

These two photographs were taken on the first full day of a short research cruise at the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. I was out on the R/V Manta with crew and scientists with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They were going to survey the reefs at the sanctuary while I was going to collect water samples as part of what my lab hoped would become a long-term monitoring project related to ocean acidification.



The sunrise is framed on the back deck surrounded by dive gear and what is known as a Rosette Sampler. The white cylindrical frame held twelve grey Niskin bottles. When deployed, the bottles are held open with wires stretched across the bottle. A signal from the ship shuts the bottles when the rosette sampler reaches the desired depths for water sampling. I can then collect the water when the sampler is brought back on board. This was the promise of our day. It was a day of diving and water collection in the Gulf of Mexico.


The second picture is sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. I was on the top deck of the ship, waiting for twilight and the night sky to light up with stars not seen in the city. It was a moment of bittersweet reflection as we only had one more day out in the gulf before we would return to the mainland. However, it was a beautiful sunset; a good end to a productive day. You can also see another oil platform on the horizon. There a lot of them in the Gulf of Mexico, our only connection to human civilization.

I love the field days out at sea. They can get nasty, but out there I am free from most of the stresses and anxieties of the mainland. All I have to do is roll with the sea, do my work, and make it back in one piece. And get some great sunrises and sunsets to boot.

© 2018 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.




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