3 August, 2002
The luxury of a little spare time when we are at a deep station is gone now that weíre at the end of the East Barrow transect. We have been moving from deep water (3000 meters) to shallow (50 meters), and we will have completed seven stations on this transect by the time we are done this afternoon (Aug. 4). In addition, because we are in shallow water again, we are doing both van Veen grabs and Haps Core sampling. We can sieve (wash the mud off completely) the mud from one van Veen grab in 10-15 minutes if the mud is of the right consistency. If the mud is more clay-like or has a number of organisms in it, the sieving process can take 45 minutes Ė one hour/grab. Lately, itís been taking us more rather than less time. Weíre definitely finding a lot of ďcritters,Ē though. Lots of invertebrates (animals without backbones) live at these cold depths. As Jim Bartlett (science technician for Jackie and Lee) said last night, it brings new meaning to the phrase ďstuck in the mud.Ē
We have been finding Lots of brittle stars (a type of starfish with long thin arms), a few bat starfish, several different species of worms, and even a type of coral! I know that I always thought coral needed shallow water so the sunlight could get to them and the algae that live inside them to help them feed. I also thought they needed warm water! These small corals (they look like miniature deer antlers) are living in -1.5 degree Celsius water at a depth of 200 meters! It seems that itís only the colonial (live in groups), reef building corals that need the shallow, warm water. The coral we found is doing just fine in deep, very cold water!
Once we bring up the Haps cores Jackie picks two that are best suited for her respiration experiments. She found a good core today and immediately noticed a sabellid worm near the top. These belong to a group of worms that form tubes around themselves and just stick out their front end to filter their food from the water. They are similar to feather duster worms and Christmas tree worms found on coral reefs in tropical waters. You can see the long feathery spirals for gathering food in the picture below. Jackie and Lee took several pictures, and then Jackie brought the chamber inside. Shortly after that, the worm came completely out of its tube. This provided the occasion for much excitement and picture taking by anyone in the lab. Jim and I were working on sectioning a core, and we both took a break just to see the worm. OK, admit it. Some of you are shaking your head and saying, ďget a life, itís only a worm!Ē Remember, this IS Jackieís life, and she finds it incredibly exciting! In addition, itís all a part of this incredible SBI project that is going to provide so much more information about this relatively unknown ocean. Her excitement is contagious, and we all were thrilled to see this unusual life form from the depths of the Arctic Ocean!
Itís almost time to post my journal, and Iím going to give e you a brief run down of the past 36 hours. Just after midnight on August 3 we finished EB 4 (the 4th station on the East Barrow transect) I went to bed and got up at 7: 00 for breakfast. After breakfast, I worked on my journals and photographs. That usually means checking the information with the scientists I wrote about, editing the journals, and printing off both the journal and the photographs to post in the mess. I had to wait until lunch at 11AM to find Paul and Christine (the two people in the journal), because they had both been up until 5:30AM collecting water samples and they slept in until lunch. At noon I began to post my journals. You might have noticed that there were no journals for two days. Thatís because our internet access had been reduced back to two hours/day, from noon until 2 PM, and thatís the time frame in which I will now post my journals. When you think about it, itís pretty amazing that we have internet at all! Immediately after finishing my journals at 2 PM we started EB 3, working on it through 8 PM. We did take time out for dinner and sabellid photographs! From 8:30 until 9:30 I collected water for the oxygen-18 sampling. I then worked on preparing my journal photographs until 10:45. At 11 PM, I went to sleep and got three hours in before we started EB 2 at 2 AM on August 4. We completed EB 2 in time for breakfast. I started to write this and fell asleep! I caught another couple hours of sleep and here I am, wrapping up my journals from yesterday so I can post it in 15 minutes, the end of 36 hours.
We are already at EB 1 and Iíll be heading back to the science lab as soon as this is posted. The good news is that we will then be done with the East Barrow transect, and our next transect is 24 hours away! The scientist will use that time to gather some of data for the chief scientists and to catch up on the processing of samples and some sleep! Iíll be able to talk to some of the scientists so I can fill you in on more of the projects going on.
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