Latitude: -66 09.39 Longitude: 80 48.10
Here we are 3 weeks into science and my, oh my, have we gotten an amazing diversity of worms! It has been a whirlwind few weeks of collections out here and I have had an amazing time trying to identify the astounding annelids from the Southern Ocean. In my previous blogpost, I shared some photos from our previous cruise, and here you can see several new ones we have collected so far! Throughout our collections so far, we have tried to identify the worms to the genus and species level, but we have found that several specimen down here have not been described so it is exceedingly difficult to assign them names. Also, the variety of scaleworms has proven especially difficult because they are so abundant and do not seem to be well described. It is also tough to identify species with our limited internet and access to online resources, but we are hopeful that when we return to shore, we will be able to better classify what we have collected. One thing that is wonderful about worms is that we typically can collect them with every type of collection gear that we deploy, including the Blake trawl, epibenthic sled, Megacore, and the box-corer.
One type of gear that we deploy at every station is called the ‘Yo-yo’ camera. Isn’t that a fun name? I love it. It received this name because of how it bounces up and down from the seafloor (similar to a yoyo) in order to take photos of the fauna along a 1 kilometer transect so we can see them in their natural habitat. We just recently published a paper based on data collected with this system around the Antarctic peninsula (https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1094283), and we are excited to use the data collected from our current expedition to describe these benthic communities in the eastern region of the Antarctic continental shelf. Please check out the photo below of a figure from our paper.
I would also like to talk about how incredible night shift has been so far! Not only have I been WORMing out in the Southern Ocean, I have also been lucky enough to be WORKing out with a fabulous group. In the photos, you can see us on the bow getting into a yoga pose. It has been such as honor to join these two for weightlifting and yoga almost every day since our science has started! We have held each other accountable and focused on strength and flexibility in our off hours. Huge shoutout to Nusrat and Victoria for being my gym buddies! I have also included two of our lovely sunrises that we have been blessed with on the midnight to noon shift.
Please keep following along as we gather invertebrates and information in this rarely sampled region of the world!
Candace J. Grimes, Ph.D
University of North Carolina at Wilmington