SEA Currents: research
Gybing, an unexpected treat, a Shipek and aloft!
Though we only left Dunedin yesterday morning, that seems like ages ago to me as I am awoken from my slumbers by a voice informing me that I have 20 minutes until watch starts, that it’s slightly chilly on deck, but there are no signs of adverse weather. I grumble some semblance of “alright I hear you,” and as the voice walks away I slowly get out of bed. It seems as if I just went to bed not too long ago…
Finding Researcher’s Ridge
We forwent our regularly scheduled science stations yesterday. Instead of dropping our Secchi disk, free CTD, phyto net, and Neuston net in the morning, we charged forward, making miles early so that we could spend an extra few hours with science gear overboard in the afternoon and evening.
We sailed towards the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’s western side from the heart of its rift valley, a tight and narrow topographic feature bounded by almost incomprehensively steep, deep cliffs that plunge over two thousand meters vertically in a mere hundred horizontal meters. We sailed west, and set our sights toward an elusive shallow spot called Researcher’s Ridge.
Plastic, plastic, and more plastic
Hello to all the readers of the C256 blog! This is Nick Dragone, one of the two visiting scientists on this= transatlantic crossing. I am onboard to work on a collaborative project studying the microbial communities living on marine plastic debris. After reading this blog post, I hope you will understand a little more about the collaborative ship-wide effort that is required every day to perform the research that I, Annie (my fellow visiting scientist), the students, and the faculty are conducting onboard.
Finding Winslow Reef
07:50 We’ve been sailing in a large circle overnight, waiting for the daylight to begin our approach to Winslow Reef. The reason for this wait is that Winslow is one of those rare unmapped places of our planet, and so we have no good charts to rely on in the absence of daylight. To fix this situation a big part of todays mission is to use our onboard CHIRP sonar system to produce some accurate soundings of this large series of subsea peaks that may or may not pierce the surface of the sea. With the sun sufficiently high in the sky and the CHIRP pinging away we begin our first survey line toward a seamount some 8 nautical miles from what we think is the shallowest point of the reef.
28 days and 3 island sites into our Phoenix Islands Expedition finds the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) fish team with 278 fish sampled, including 57 blacktip and grey reef sharks and 4 manta rays. The rest of the Seamans crew has taken to calling the WHOI fish team the Tweedles, but it remains unclear who is dee and who is dumb. Despite the confusion about
our names, the smell of fish while visiting an island site is unmistakable and is a telltale sign of our current location.
Microplastics in ocean causing rising concern amongst leading scientists
Microplastics – microscopic particles of plastic debris – are of increasing concern because of their widespread presence in the oceans and the potential physical and toxicological risks they pose to organisms.
This is the view of two of the world’s most eminent authorities on the subject, Professor Kara Lavender Law, of Sea Education Association (Woods Hole, MA), and Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University (UK).
In an article published today in the journal Science, the two scientists have called for urgent action to “turn off the tap” and divert plastic waste away from the marine environment.
We crossed the equator on Sunday morning, the day we entered into PIPA. There is always a celebration of the event, crossing the line is a big thing for a sailor, for the first time in particular. Of course around the ship nothing changes, the same trade winds push us along, the same waves stretch into the horizon. Drawing lines into the high seas can seem like a funny business!
Launching the Argo
Today was an exciting day on the Robert C. Seamans. It began with my first deployment of the Hydrocast! The ships crew is divided into 3 watches and those within each watch rotate between deck duty and lab duty. Being that it took about 4 days for me to get my sea legs, I spent that time avoiding small, enclosed spaces. I have, however, now begun to delve into the exciting scientific inquiries that are taking place in the lab.
Research Symposium Prep
All was quiet on deck. The on watch was taking care of ship’s business, but they comprised all of the souls present to enjoy the fresh air breezing briskly through the sails. You might think I could be describing Mid-Watch, detailing a scene in the dead of night, but as it was, the sun was shining brightly on this fine day. So where were the students?
Deep in the belly of the ship, we were hard at work, completing the final touches to our research project presentations, awaiting the start of the 2014 S252 Research Symposium.
Challenge + Reward
Ahoy family and friends!
Today was a busy day here on the Seamans. Our Atlas Projects, which we’re working on in groups of three, were due today. My group, which includes Julian and Emma, are focusing on the issue of sea level rise in French Polynesia. Our project provided us with great opportunities to interact with locals in our various port stops and get their opinions on how their island might be affected by rising sea levels.