Monday, Oct. 5, 2009

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 8th, 2009 by oimbadmin –

A day on the cruise with Laurel Hiebert (Bunker Hill, Blossom Gulch and Madison schools)

Sea floor at Vioska Knoll

Sea floor at Vioska Knoll

Today was the last day of the cruise – the end of a great adventure. I was really fortunate today since I got to go on a second dive – to a place called Vioska Knoll, which was truly the most beautiful place that I have ever been. At the bottom, we landed in a vast field of white anemones and stalked white sponges, waving peacefully in the gentle current. We headed up a large hill (or knoll), towards towering coral colonies. Amongst colonies of white corals, we found stalked barnacles that resembled gooseneck barnacles, but were light brown and almost translucent. Besides the white corals, we also found black corals, which grow like trees underwater and can grow for thousands of years. The oldest black coral ever recorded was 4,265 years old! Because black coral is harvested and sold to make jewelry and it takes so long to re-grow, many black corals all over the world are being destroyed. We did our best not to disrupt this ancient undersea coral forest.

After the dive, students presented on projects that they had been working on over the last few weeks. I will tell you a little about one project that I was working on: read more »

Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 6th, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Diving with Josh Lord (Ocean Crest, Harbor Lights and Driftwood schools)

DSC00049cToday I had the amazing opportunity to go down to the bottom of the ocean in the deep sea submersible. Not only that, but I got to sit in the front, inside the 5 inch thick glass ball that separates the pilot and the scientist from the crushing weight of 1700 feet of water above us!

The descent takes about half an hour, with light slowly fading until up looks the same as down. There are instruments and switches everywhere, lit up with red light, and the pilot controls the sub with a small control box, much like a video game controller. As we reach 1600 feet below the surface, the pilot switches off the air supply and a few other items so that we have enough power to get the big light on the sub turned on. The light stretches 40-50 feet into the penetrating darkness that surrounds us at the bottom of the ocean. There are beds of tubeworms all over the bottom, about a centimeter wide but several feet high, some taller than me. There are small red fish everywhere amongst the tubes, unsure how to react to light that they’ve never seen before. read more »

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 5th, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Ship log by Myndee McNeill (Millicoma Intermediate School)

Sunrise here on the boat has become my favorite part of the day. In Oregon, we get to see the sun set into the ocean, but here, we get to see it come up out of the ocean and slip back into the ocean at the end of the day! How cool is that? I didn’t get to see the sunrise today, though. I was up until 4 am working on my research (counting tubeworm eggs) so I slept in until 8. There are so many things to see and do here that I don’t want to sleep so that I don’t miss anything! Another benefit of getting up early is that the lab is empty then. By the afternoon, everyone is up and cozying up to each other in the tight lab quarters, which makes it so much more exciting- you never know when you’re going to collide with someone!

This morning the sub brought back the tubeworms and clams that I have been studying, so I was really excited! It’s always like Christmas when the sub comes up- everyone heads out to see the weird and interesting creatures brought up, and to get cold bottom-of-the-ocean water for the animals in the cold room. read more »

Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 3rd, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Diving with Laurel Hiebert (Bunker Hill, Blossom Gulch and Madison schools)

anemone-crabI have been on many collecting trips – to the rocky shore, to the sandy beach, to the mudflats. But this was a very different sort of collecting trip. Instead of bringing along my rubber boots, rain jacket, and bucket, I brought along a video camera and clipboard to take lots of notes and record video. Instead of being able to stick my hands in the mud or lift up the rocks to find animals, I could only observe through a glass sphere and pick things up with a robotic arm. The site I went to is called Garden Bank and it was unexplored by any of the scientists onboard. My mission: to explore the area and record what I see. read more »

Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 3rd, 2009 by oimbadmin –

On the ship with Kristina Sawyer (Hillcrest Elementary)

Myndee holding a bag of cups before they go down with the sub

Myndee holding a bag of cups before they go down with the sub

Today we had some rough weather in the morning and there was a quick but intense storm around 6am. I was still asleep, but I felt the ship rocking more than usual from my bunk below deck. The sub recovery at 11:30am was one of the waviest ones we’ve had yet, and the swimmer had to work hard to not fall off as he tried to hook the sub up to the giant rope (probably the largest rope I have ever seen). The sub brought up a bunch of sea stars. We have them in the lab here on the boat and are trying to spawn them so we can look at their larvae (babies). After lunch, I helped with the CTD (see Sept 27 ship log) and we took samples from the big bottles that went down in the ocean and put them into small bottles. Then I helped pipet an even smaller amount (2 mL, less than ½ tsp.) of water from these small bottles into tiny vials. I got to use a cool syringe and had to wear gloves and change the tip after each sample, which made me feel pretty official. The oceanographers on board will test this water to find out what kinds of picophytoplankton are floating in the water at different depths. (Picophytoplankton are tiny photosynthetic algae– one thousand of them can fit on the head of a pin!) We are looking to see if we find any larvae at those depths. If you remember, one of the goals of our cruise is to determine what the larvae are eating. read more »

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 – ship log

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 2nd, 2009 by oimbadmin –

On the ship with Kira Triebergs (North Bay and Lighthouse schools)

sorting the MOCNESS samples

My day started in the early hours of the morning, around 1 am. When I finished my work, I went for a stroll on deck. Little did I know that I was in for a spectacular show… it was like watching blue planet in real life! Flying fish were zipping straight out of the water and sailing like birds over the waves. I was standing at the stern (back) of the ship, when all of a sudden a flying fish lunged toward me, followed by two dolphins! What followed was a fast paced chase that ended up in some very happy dolphins, full after a meal of delicious flying fish.

After a few hours sleep I woke up early to watch Kristina’s second submarine launch. The crew told me if I put on a life jacket, I could watch up close, so I got to see every detail of the launch. The A-frame raised the sub clear above our heads and into the clear blue water. It seemed so big when I was standing under it!

Following the launch I worked on my project, studying baby barnacle larvae that hatched from adults we found on the spines of a deep-sea urchin. Barnacles on urchin spines! We were curious if these deep-sea baby barnacles (nauplii), that have only one eye, can sense light! To study this, Marley and I set up a tiny nauplius-sized arena to test our question. read more »

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 – sub log

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 2nd, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Diving with Marley Jarvis (Ocean Crest and Driftwood schools)

Tube worms just brought up from the deep sea

Tube worms just brought up from the deep sea

I found out at lunch yesterday that there was a change in the schedule and that I would be diving in a couple of hours. I immediately got butterflies in my stomach. In a couple of hours I would be on the bottom of the ocean!! I felt like I was about to go to the moon. The time I had to wait before going in the sub seemed to last forever. Finally, I waved to my friends and climbed up the hatch into the sub. The opening to the sub is high up, so I had to step on something and hoist myself up. It is a tiny opening, so the two of us going in the back had to climb in one at a time.

As we went down, tons and tons of plankton and dead bits and sediment and detritus and bubbles swirled around the tiny window in the back of the sub where I was sitting. I could look closely and see all of the zooplankton swimming and floating by: tiny shrimp, copepods, and worms. After about 10 minutes, the light from the surface was all gone and the sub pilot left the lights off so we could see all of the bioluminescence. It looked like I was lying in a field at night looking up at really bright stars. But the stars were all alive and moving incredibly fast! The stars swirled and changed shape and zoomed past and exploded into a hundred little lights blinking on and off. I got a little dizzy watching, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t look away! read more »

Wednesday Sept. 30, 2009 – ship log

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 1st, 2009 by oimbadmin –

At sea with Marley Jarvis (Ocean Crest and Driftwood schools)

deploying the crab and isopod trap

Deploying crab and isopod trap

Today was a day of recovery for a lot of people. We keep hauling up really cool stuff from the sea floor with the sub ,and then run around trying to observe everything and do experiments with the animals. This is really exciting, and keeps most of us up really late. Today at 7:00 AM we woke up to wonderful pancakes with chocolate chips cooked by our fabulous chef G.B. I am going to miss him when we get home! Then at 8:00 AM it was time to see Myndee off as she went on her second trip to the sea floor. It is always so exciting to see the sub get launched! The machine they use to put the sub in the water is huge, and it is really cool to see it lift up the whole sub, with all four people inside. The rope it uses is as big as my head! Then all morning it is cool to know that your friend is cruising around the ocean floor. At lunch I found out that there had been a change in the schedule and I was going to be going down in the sub on the afternoon dive! I immediately had butterflies in my stomach and was nervous and really excited! I’ll talk about my dive in my dive log tomorrow, now I’ll talk about the ship. read more »

Wednesday, Sept. 30 2009 – sub log

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on October 1st, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Diving with Greg Gavelis (Highland Elementary)

Each day this week I’ve stood on deck, waiting for the sub to come up. When it does, I wave to the cockpit and am excited just to know the people in it. I always wondered how much more exciting it must be to actually be in the sub, and wondering “why are all those people waving at me?” Yesterday I got my chance.

I was not in the cockpit of the sub but the room in the back. I had always thought of it as being the “trunk” of the sub, but it turned out to be quite spacious. There were even pillows and blankets back there! I shared the room with Frank, the technician, while Bob (the scientist) rode in front with Craig (the pilot) in the cockpit, which was a separate room. As we waited to reach the bottom, lying there on blankets, Frank with a book, and me by the window, I almost got the feeling that we were at a sleepover on the bottom of the sea. But that was a silly idea, because once we reached the bottom, we had a lot of work to do. My job was to write down everything we saw. So in fact it was not at all like a sleepover, but more like a class. I was taking notes in the great dark classroom of the deep sea. read more »

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 – sub log

Posted in Gulf of Mexico on September 30th, 2009 by oimbadmin –

Dive to a brine pool with Zair Burris (Bunker Hill, Blossom Gulch, Madison Schools)

I pulled myself up and into the back of the sub, took my shoes off, wrapped myself in a blanket, and lay down so that my face would be next to the tiny porthole. I put my headset on and made sure my notebook and pencil were ready to write down everything I saw. As the sub slid into and under the water we were surrounded on all sides by bubbles, as if we were going through a car wash. The deeper we got the darker and colder it got, and so I layered on more clothes: my gloves, a scarf, a hat, an extra pair of socks, and another sweatshirt. When it was completely dark, the small animals in the water would wiz past us, glowing and flashing us with their bioluminescence like dancing stars. I can see how animals could be dazzled by this display and become something’s unsuspecting prey.

As we got to the ocean bottom (2180 feet deep) we came upon an underwater lake. A lake. UNDERWATER! Scientists have named this a brine pool. The water is very salty and very heavy; so heavy that it can’t mix with the surrounding sea water. There it has to stay: a pool of salty water under an already salty ocean. What’s even more incredible is that surrounding this lake a beach made of mussels has formed, making it impossible to see the muddy ocean floor. read more »