Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sampling the Deep on the Long Haul to Hawaii

We're sailing and doing some motoring as we head north towards Hawaii. We have to average over 110 nm a day these days, with over 1000 nm ahead. We're doing 5-6 hours of station work, and the rest is travel time. Another large project has taken off- this time its Alex and Nik's OML project studying the remarkable shoaling of the oxygen minimal layer in this region of the inter tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), and examining the critters in the deep scattering layer. We're using a Tucker trawl which, when it works correctly, should tow a zooplankton-collecting net at a specific depth. We're pulling three nets and sending down messengers - small brass weights that slide down the line to open and close them - to sample the mesopelagic organisms at specific times and depths. We're pulling up lots of exciting fish, many of which have bioluminescent light organs and other adaptations specifically for life in the deep sea. Squalls are making things a bit blusterly at times and clouds have filled in as we course through the ITCZ.

-Dr. Barbara Block

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