Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
December 03, 2017
A Zoo of Zooplanktons
35° 27.7’ S x 178 58.0’ W
Course & Speed
Course Ordered: 195°; Course Steered: 170°; 5.7kts
Motor-sailing under the four lowers and occasionally the top’sl
Sunshine, light winds, a full moon, and some cumulus towers
A couple of weeks ago, Steve, the third scientist excitedly told me to grab my camera and come to lab-there was a lens they thought might work to photograph samples under the microscope. With a little puttering and a lot of knob turning, the eerie space ship bodies of the dinoflagellates and copepods began to come into focus.
The lab has become my favorite place to haunt on the boat. Twice a day we heave-to on a port tack (to slow our motion through the ocean), prepare the science nets, and toss them overboard to strain from the sea a bucket or two of extra concentrated wriggling, gelatinous, mysterious sea life. Once on board we separate, identify, and biovolume the larger creatures and scoop a milliliter or two from the remaining planktonic ooze to count and identify under the microscope. Each tiny sample holds a pocket of mystery - dozens of insect-like copepods, gelatinous salps, colonial siphonophores, alien-like phronemids with giant claws, bioluminescent gymnosomes, and more. The accompanying pictures are a small sample from the 1000's of beautiful and bizarre plankton that pass beneath the scopes.
Just yesterday, we discovered a spinning bundle of baby pteropods (pictured top right), also known as sea angels, each encased in their own sac within the larger communal sac. Oriented head to head, they twirled with beating cilia, their bodies intricate and transparent like tiny galaxies. As word spread around the ship, a train of students, scientists, and mates squeezed into the tiny dry lab to see the spinning band of pteropods.
Today, it was our turn to take a twirl in the bright deep sea. Under light winds and a long slow swell, we parked the ship in the pacific by hoving to, wiggled into our swim suits, and took turns jumping from the bow sprit into the crisp waters. Swimming and giddy alongside the boat, we joined the galaxies of microscopic lives drifting 5,960m above the sea floor.
Sending crisp waters, see-through salps, and the occasional drifting man-o-war,
p.s. Hakala-Ord fam bam, hope the snows are thick, the barge is safely back at Couverden, and weaving hands and plowing trails bring smiles during the long nights! Much love, save some snow for me!