September 30 2010
Today was the first shift that had me working from 2:00 am- 2:00 pm ish. I’m writing this currently at 7:03 GST.
The thing about boat shifts and hours you work is that they don’t really indicate when you start and stop. I don’t really want to stop when the shift is up. In fact, it’s not uncommon for researchers, graduate students, and us teachers to just keep going. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t want to risk missing something great.
So today I was very busy again. This seems to be redundant, but it’s worth mentioning every time. I spent the pre-dawn hours helping again with the IKMT nets, and we found some great organisms. Several squid species, again they seem to be very common to the depths being sampled. We also pulled out a very hungry octopus, who started to consume a fish that was in the tank it was in. We also pulled up our first shark of the cruise. Actually, we pulled up three Catsharks. Included in the tow was a hatchet fish, who gets it’s name by the shape of the body. It’s a metallic looking flat fish of the deep. It came up in perfect condition, and it was a great sight. In this tow as a surplus of shrimp, some large enough t0 bring about thoughts of consuming them. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat the research. Plus they kind of creep me out because their feet keep running in place even when they’re pulled out of the water, they never get tired. I’ll show you a video when I get back. Most of the samples make there way back to Scripps Institutes preserved for the collections there. Tonight though we collected a tiny little octopus, the same one that was eating a fish in our tank. Well everyone fell madly in love with that little cephalopod that we couldn’t keep it. It was released back into the ocean. Everyone rejoiced!
Most of today I spent helping researchers Dr. Greg Rouse and graduate student Mindi Summers. We were looking for benthic organisms on the slant. as they call it. Santa Barbara basin slants down to deeper water where the anoxic zone is. On its way down the gradual decline you do find oxygen levels at higher levels, which means oxygen dependent creatures can thrive there. So the box cores we have been using all week were sent down today a total of 7 times! That’s a lot, and they all were successful. The samples were taken starting at 100m to up to 400m. Each were filled with surprising amounts of living things. We mostly were looking for worms and other invertebrates that call that mud home. Some examples of our findings can be seen in the photos posted to the blog. Great sea urchin species, polychaete worms, sea cucumbers, a sea mouse ( not related to the land mouse), and many other worm like creatures that I don’t have the training to identify. As we muddied up our hands, arms, shirts, and pants digging through muck I found myself centimeters away from the mud looking for any signs of movement. That of course, would indicate a worm, and that’s what I was after.
So, my job as it turns out was to take a worm or other invert, remove any mud from its body with very fine forceps and tiny paint brushes. Basically, I was prepping a worm for a photo shoot. They had to look good for science, and I was the one in charge of it. At the end of the day we had some great looking worms.