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First Lander is Up!

August 23, 2013
furu with lander

Furu is all smiles as the first lander is recovered.

“Wow! How cool is this!” exclaimed Dacia on the port bow after watching the bright yellow marker buoy pop up, followed by a roaring cheer as the flag on the lander broke the surface. After getting up at 5:30 am, she admits she had been thinking that she had no idea what to look for, and how was she supposed to spot the lander? She started looking for something out of the ordinary, something that was not supposed to be there. When she saw the yellow floats she knew she was looking at the right thing.

getting the lander on deck

It took teamwork, a great ship’s crew and an A-frame to get the lander on deck.

Retrieving the lander was an example of perfectly orchestrated teamwork; the ship steamed alongside the lander and its buoy. One of the techs threw a grappling hook towards the line between the buoy and lander. After snagging the line, it was pulled on board. The buoy was lifted on deck, the line was run through the winch, and then the lander was brought on board. It took the coordinated efforts of the ship’s crew and science team for this successful recovery.

When asked about the lander, Dacia said “It was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought there was going to be more equipment on it based on the size of the cage frame. There was a big huge anemone on one of the legs, which made me wonder what might be living in the little yellow flotation devices around the top. I was very interested to know what kind of data it might have stored on it.”

liz and anemone

This large anemone was attached to the leg of the lander.

The large anemone released itself from the leg after it was out of the water for a few minutes. It was more than 100mm across. The size of the anemone was amazing considering it had only been growing for a year. Dacia removed the small anemones and hydroids that were attached to the lander. The samples were stored in 70% ethanol so that they could be transported back to the mainland.

There is more information to be gathered from the lander at a later time. For example, Mike and Gabriela worked on removing the settling plates (look for a blog post about that!) and Furu will determine when to start downloading data that was stored in the mechanisms. We started our search for the second lander instead of focusing on data from the first. We are still trying to find the second lander and are hoping that the weather will continue to cooperate!

Flying Fish

August 22, 2013

By Gabriela Hogue

Flying Fish

A flying fish using its tail to further its glide.

Steaming towards our first station in Norfolk Canyon we were treated to a fireworks display of flying fish. As the bow cut through the water and spotted dolphins frolicked in the waves of the boat, flying fish began gliding just above the surface of the water in order to get out of the way. They can propel themselves out of the water and use their wing-like fins to glide through the air. Researchers have discovered that they can travel up to 400 m and the longest glide was measured at 45 seconds. A typical flight is about 50 meters. At the end of their glide, they either fold their pectoral fins in order to reenter the ocean or they drop their deeply forked caudal fin (tail) into the water to push against the water for another lift for more gliding.

So, what are flying fish? They are in the family Exocoetidae and can be found in all the oceans, especially in tropical and subtropical waters. Within the family, there are 60+ different species, in 7-9 different genera (these numbers depend on who you talk to). There is a lot of diversity in the reproductive strategies within this family. Some species have buoyant eggs which they lay in the open ocean to float along the surface. Other species also lay their eggs in the open ocean but the eggs have stringy filaments which get wound up in floating debris (like sargassum). Others spend their entire lives in coastal areas, or return to coastal areas to reproduce. Flying fish primarily eat zooplankton, and are in turn an important food source for many marine predators. They are also an important commercial fish in Asia. Along with their meat, their roe is collected and used in sushi.

A gliding flying fish is a beautiful thing to behold. Cruising right above the water and using the air currents and their caudal fins to glide farther and farther, it’s no wonder that in the early 1900’s, flying fish were studied as possible models used to develop airplanes.

Curious Dacia goes to Sea!

August 22, 2013

Welcome to sea!  This is Dacia Harris, the teacher at sea, for this last leg of the project.  In addition, this is my first extended stay at sea so I wanted to share a little about what I have experienced at sea.

Dacia and door

The watertight door between the wet lab and the back deck of the ship is a place where I have to duck.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a 6’2” female.  I am very grateful to not have to duck everywhere to get places.  The only places that I have to duck so far are the watertight doors and my bunk.  The watertight doors have been interesting to try and maneuver my way through, being that they have small openings and are very heavy (we were warned that if we weren’t careful they could take off our arm) and the ship is always rocking back and forth.

The berth is actually much roomier than I had anticipated.  We each have a locker for our gear as well as drawers and cupboards so that our belongings are secured, on the off chance that we run into high seas.  The bunk is long enough for me to lie down flat (side sleeping is questionable as we rock, and you could easily end up on the floor).  You can see in the image, there are blackout curtains to help you sleep better.

Dacia in bunk

I demonstrate the coziness of my bunk.

Another interesting concept is the head (bathroom). There are two toilets (one significantly smaller than the other — think airplane bathroom) and three showers.  Thankfully the showers are pretty tiny because when the boat rocks, you have something to “brace yourself.”  We are all sharing the head (about 13 people) – good thing we are all getting along pretty well.

The best surprise is the mess (kitchen/dining).  There are two wonderful guys who are providing delicious nutritious food for a crew of more than 30.  And while there is no soda (I know!) we do have juice, tea and water.  Remember hydration is KEY while at sea to prevent sea-sickness. Well that, and a patch, wristbands, and Dramamine (remember this is my first long-term at sea).  I will fill you all in more on what we are doing out here a little later.

Kelly did this drawing of a morning at sea. It is easy to embrace the morning after climbing out of your bunk and enjoying a delicious breakfast and hot cup of coffee.

Kelly did this drawing of a morning at sea. It is easy to embrace the morning after climbing out of your bunk and enjoying a delicious breakfast and hot cup of coffee.

Off to retrieve the landers!

August 21, 2013
science team

The science team, ready to get started!

 

The final leg of the Deepwater Canyons mission has departed. The science crew boarded last night, and the R/V Nancy Foster shoved off this morning. Once we got out into open water we completed our safety drills, and are now steaming north towards our target site.

Liz with “Shrunken Head”

July 11, 2013
It was brought to my attention that the photo of the shrunken head never appeared on the blog - here it is!

It was brought to my attention that the photo of the shrunken head never appeared on the blog – here it is!

Head Shrinking

Bruce Cowden: Man of Many Talents

The Second Leg by the Numbers (better late than never)

June 3, 2013

We arrived in Charleston this past Monday around 8:30 AM, finishing the second, and final, leg of this Deepwater Canyons cruise. It was a successful venture and an exciting adventure. I have finally regained my ‘land legs’. Someone actually commented that people always talk about seasickness, but not what happens when you get off the ship: dock rock. This is a term for the sensation of still being at sea after getting on dry land; feeling the pitch and roll of the ship in the waves even though you are on stable ground. Many people tend to feel this when stationary or when they have their eyes closed. I was warned to be aware when washing shampoo out of my hair for the first time back on dry land. I didn’t fall in the shower, but for about two days, if I sat or stood still, I could feel the world rocking around me. It wasn’t an uneasy feeling necessarily, but noticeable nonetheless. Some people might actually have this sensation after any prolonged period in a moving vehicle (car, train, plane, etc.). Stand still and close your eyes after your next plane flight and see what happens.

I digress, here are the numbers:

15 Science team members

Preparing the Jason ROV for the end of operations on the ship. Image courtesy of Walt Gurley, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

Preparing the Jason ROV for the end of operations on the ship. Image courtesy of Walt Gurley, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

6 ROV dives

3 Shipwrecks photographed and videoed in High Definition

12.5 TB of video and still picture data (total for Leg 1 and Leg 2)

10 ROV crew (still)

200+ isotope samples

20 GB of multibeam sonar data

30 ship’s crew (still)

18,000 gallons of fuel burned

4 CTDs

4+ boxes of Frosted Mini-Wheats consumed

Photographer/Videographer Art Howard braving the elements to get shots off the bow during rough seas. Image courtesy of Walt Gurley, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

Photographer/Videographer Art Howard braving the elements to get shots off the bow during rough seas. Image courtesy of Walt Gurley, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

0 times seasick (personal best)

9 Mono cores

25,000 gallons of freshwater made and used

1 trawl

2,963 photos documenting the cruise

700 GB of video documenting the cruise

20 degree difference in air temperature between the lab and the ROV control van (still)

1 ‘gold whale’ collected and maintained

2 bags of un-shrunken wig heads and Styrofoam cups (we didn’t get a chance to shrink our Styrofoam materials)

Akel and Korey from the Jason crew taking in the last sunset on the ship.

Akel and Korey from the Jason crew taking in the last sunset on the ship. Image courtesy of Walt Gurley, Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

Someone else has said it better

May 26, 2013

We have been diving on a series of ships sunk by U.S. Army General Billy Mitchell in the early 1920’s to demonstrate the power of military aircraft. Here is a link to a background on the “Billy Mitchell Fleet” and the archaeological research being conducted on the Deepwater Canyons cruises by Chief Archaeological Scientist of the cruise and Professor of History and Underwater Archaeology at the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Rod Mather:

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/13midatlantic/background/marinearch/marinearch.html

Also, for your viewing pleasure, here are two videos showing footage of some of the bombing tests: