I can’t begin to describe the breathtaking views that I am lucky enough to encounter while collecting samples of mud from the ocean floor. We have just finished our science and sample collections and are headed to port. Sample collection for us involves a few pieces of equipment to analyze whether each area is good for the megacorer. A prime area for coring involves softer sediments. To find a site to sample is a multi-beam is used first to provide us a bathymetric survey of the seafloor to the ensure the perfect depth and area to sample. We also use the Knudsen, which uses sonar to help us determine if the ocean floor has a hard bottom or soft and fluffy sediments. Next a cool piece of equipment called a Yo-yo cam is deployed. This a camera that bounces around the seafloor and allows us a live look at what is on the bottom. The Yo-yo cam has provided us endless entertainment on this cruise. After we determine with the multi-beam, Knudsen, and Yo-yo cam that the area is good for coring the megacorer is deployed. The megacorer uses 12 cores (long tubes) that grab the sediments and bring them up to us. The first picture below shows the megacorer being brought back on the ship with full cores. Once the cores are back on the ship, we take them and section them into 3 cm intervals. Half of each 3 cm section is flash frozen in liquid nitrogen for later processing, while the other half is processed on the boat. I am extremely excited to get our samples back in the lab at Central Michigan University to start the process of extracting DNA/RNA. I will use these samples to determine what microbes are present down deep in the ocean, and how the microbes are degrading organic matter.
Although the days are long in the lab, we work 12 hr. shifts each day of science, we do stop working for a little fun. Our fun includes penguin, seal, and whale watching on the bow of the ship, and from the bridge. I have had the opportunity to capture quite a few once in a lifetime views on this boat. I will include a few of my favorite pictures from the cruise here.
Central Michigan University