So, I’m going to stay true to my word and post the menu first. I also neglected to mention that outside of dinner, there is PLENTY of food – sandwich fixings, leftovers from previous meals, coffee, tea, drinks, and a deadly array of snacks and candy…
- Mushroom Scramble
- Sausage patties
- Cream of Wheat
- Potatoes and onions
- Fresh guava and other fruit
- Cranberry Scones
- Salad bar
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed green beans
- Prime Rib
- Eggplant stew
- Roasted rosemary potatoes
- Garlic rice
- Steamed broccoli
- Au jus
- Salad bar
- Raspberry tarts
Cloudy and overcast, with a light drizzle
First dive happens at:
Speaking of which, we’re jumping right in with our first dive today! Jason went in at around 1700 this evening, and will come out again some time after breakfast tomorrow. I’ll have a detailed post about Jason in a little bit, but Jason is operated from the “Van,” which is 2 converted cargo containers fused together. Inside, there are TONS of electronics and screens – there are pictures in the first album. The Jason pilots sit in the front, and the science crew are set up behind them. We’ll be working on 5-hour shifts, each with 4 scientists, from 1700-2200, 2200-0300, and 0300-0800. The tasks will be divided up into a media recorder, who is responsible for making sure all video is recorded to DVDs and other recorded media, a data logger, who inputs important events into the log and keeps a tally of the types of terrain, flora, and fauna they see at determined intervals, a biologist to help with identification of species, and a lead scientist, who communicates with Jason’s pilots. The pilots sit up front; there is an engineer to the left, a pilot in the center, and a navigator to the right. Between us and the Jason crew, be working all through the night to determine her progress as she makes her first pass. The first goal is to descend just south of the A1 seamount, and progress north up along the ridge, and then follow it to the Northwest. We’ll dive down to about 1700 meters, and then go up from there: the summit of A1 is at about 1225 meters. Here are some of the primary objectives:
- Collect solitary fossil corals at 50 meter increments, if possible
- Collect large fossil Isidids (type of coral – usually branched)
- Run a test mosaic at several altitudes, at a location to be named by the science crew.
- Trip water samples at 1600 and 1450 meters.
- Between 1600 and 1350 meters, sample the ‘tops’ of the living Solenosmilia reef (this is a highly branched, tubelike coral that forms an intricate network. Many times, our target coral, D. dianthus, is located inside a Solenosmilia reef). At first there will be only rubb, collect a representative sample of this material. The goal is to have multiple samples of solenosmilia from each depth. Separate samples by depth.
- Biobox samples: Live Isidids (not for genetics), associates where n can be large.
- Photos of representative species that structure the community, and the whole community.
- What is the depth distribution of the living species of scleractinia (the stony corals; D. dianthus is a stony coral)?
- Mark the transition between living and dead solenosmilia.
Some tools we used:
- 12 nylon mesh nets on steel frames
- Wire mesh net scoop
- 2 Bio boxes to hold live samples, on swing arms that can swing out from Jason’s side
- 8 milk crates to store the fossil samples, held in the front of Jason.
And there’s success already! Within the first hour of being on the bottom, we’ve found plenty of sampling material – many of these scarps are covered with fossil corals that we can easily have access to. Apart from the dead corals, we’ve seen a pelagic holothurian (or a swimming sea-cucumber), tons of anenomes and gorgonians (fan corals), a whiptail fish, a very interesting sea-cucumber, and other sea life…it’s been simply incredible. We also got a grant thanks to Ron Thresher, a biologist on board, to get an underwater HD camera from WHOI’s Deep Submergence lab – the picture quality is downright stunning. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some stills on the blog.
So I’ll split up the posts a little differently later, with a pre- and post- dive post, but the dive is now completed! We managed to bring up all of the samples without a problem. However, the nets did not do so well; there was serious bending on some of the nets, mainly where the handles met the steel frame. They did not fare too well against a basalt seamount… We’re going to try to fortify the joints by adding supports to either side. Fortunately there’s a machine shop on board that can do some welding. And with that, we’re finished with the first dive! We’ll be going in again this evening at 1600, so stay tuned for that!