Live from a research cruise on the Vessel Nautilus

Hi, this is Erik Cordes, writing live from sea on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Come check us out online here:


My early time on Star Island, from the age of 8, greatly influenced my future career choice of marine biology. I spent most of my time below the high tide line lifting up algae to look for crabs, searching tide pools for sticklebacks, and turning over periwinkle shells to check for hermit crabs. Any treasures that were discovered made their way to Rutledge Marine lab, where I quickly became friends with the naturalist that summer. Once I graduated from conferee to Pelican, and high school to college, it only took a few years to become the naturalist myself. Through graduate school, I often returned to Star and made my way into the marine lab to see how things were going. I eventually volunteered for the Rutledge Marine Lab committee as I became a conferee once more. Now I have the pleasure of sharing the marine lab with my children, watching their interests begin to mirror my own.

In my off-Island life, I am a Professor of Biology at Temple University, and I am currently the Chief Scientist on a research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. I am leading this cruise as part of a large research consortium called ECOGIG, which is focused on determining the fate and effects of the oil and gas released during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. On this cruise, we will be visiting a number of sites where we have found impacted deep-sea coral communities on the sea floor. When we return to these sites, we will be checking up on corals that we have marked to see if they are recovering from the damage of the spill, or if their health is continuing to decline. We will collect some of the deep-water corals for ship-board experiments on their physiology and the effects of oil exposure. We will also be taking water and sediment samples with our remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and alongside another ship, the RV Endeavor, to look at the impact of natural oil seeps on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico.


The most exciting thing about this cruise is that you can all follow along with us live! We will be on board the Exploration Vessel Nautilus using the ROV Hercules, and every minute of our time on the seafloor will be broadcast live on their website:  There will also be daily logs, interviews with the scientists and educators onboard, and all sorts of other exciting content. Please tune in and say hi when you can!

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