Diversity in the Muck- Steve Blatnica Midpark High School

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.

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35 Responses to Diversity in the Muck- Steve Blatnica Midpark High School

  1. Ryan McGinty says:

    It must have been very boring just sitting there looking for movement. The catsharks and hatchet fish also sounds very interesting.

  2. Josh Pituch says:

    Man 2 in the mourning but be a hard time to wake up at. How many hours in a row have you stayed up on the cruise?

  3. Ray Klebowski says:

    So what was the first shark that you caught species?

  4. Garret Witzke says:

    Thats cool that you got three catsharks and Hatchet fish.

  5. Adam Poschner says:

    what was the main reason you didnt want to stop your shift?

  6. Jessica Noe says:

    What were the organisms you may have found in the area with oxygen?

    • calechoes says:

      We are hoping to show you some of those organisms through the website or when I get back. We will definitely have a slide show to showcase some really cool stuff we’ve collected.

  7. Zachery Myers says:

    What was the busyest day of work and which day was the most exciting, also what was the most intresting thing that happened on this expedition.

    • calechoes says:

      The first day of the expedition was probably the busiest. Mostly because I wasn’t expecting the fast pace and full schedule that we actually had. It’s hard to place a favorite event. I’m glad that I’ve experienced all of the events, and met all the great people that I’ve met while on board.

  8. Steven Jordan says:

    It must be very boring, having to repeat everything and it being “redundant”, I am sure you weekend will bring adventure

  9. Bailey Moody says:

    What are the reason for you not wanting to stop when your shift is up?

  10. nicole bito says:

    What types of specific research did you do on the organisms,like the sharks that you pulled up?

    • Most of the research that will be happening on the organisms collected will not be done until they reach the labs at the university. One of the researchers will be doing work with fish livers. Several fish have given their livers to research.

  11. Kyla Johnson says:

    When do you get to sleep, and for how long? and Did you guys name the octopus?

    • I slept from about 9:00pm GST to around 5:00am. The schedule of sleep depends on the schedule of your watch. Some people sleep during the day and others at night. It varies. The octopus wasn’t named, but everyone fell in love with it, so we sent it back to the sea.

  12. Stephen Prusa says:

    What the reason you should get the muck out of the worm? Was it difficult to get the mud out? How long did it take you?

    • calechoes says:

      We had to clean up the worms, so they could be photographed and then preserved. You want to make them look as good as possible. Some are very difficult to clean as they build tubes around themselves, and some have tiny hairs which catch a lot of material.

  13. Erica Morgan says:

    out of all of the species that you found which would you say was the most interesting and why?

  14. Lisa Kenney says:

    Are any of the creatures you have found dangerous? Like they shark or anything like that?

  15. katie bainbridge says:

    what does a sea mouse look like ?

  16. Stephanie Singh says:

    Was it strange to see the octopus try to eat the fish?

  17. austin luu says:

    Was it hard to work 2 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon and was there any animals that could cause harm to a human?

    • It wasn’t hard to work until 2, only during slow times did you notice how long you had been up. Most of the organisms we encountered pose no threat to humans. There was one species of benthic worm that smelled quite terrible though.

  18. Cassidy Broz says:

    I thought that was funny how the octopus ate the fish that was in the tank with it.

  19. Claudia Sladick says:

    Did you find a lot of worms and other invertebrates in every core, or did some samples have more than others?

  20. Monique says:

    I didn’t think sharks would be into worms eating worms.

  21. Stephanie Schwarten says:

    Is it difficult to focus at first when you have the late shift?

  22. sam lopez says:

    How long do you or the reaserchers stay working after your shift is done? Have you found something intersting after your shift?

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