CD179: Deep-sea biology of the Portguese canyons


Daily diary

Wednesday 3 May 2006

Nina writes:

"At 8PM, shortly after we had finished our little motivational group prayer, we took over from the day shift and enthusiastically finished their sieving of the megacore sediments. (Note: considering that it is only my second night shift, I am doing pretty well. The occasional stumbling over a hose or hitting the table with my forehead is tolerable.)

With the sun set and the sea calm, Teresa, Emily, “The Chief” and I sieved our way through the different sediment layers watched by a large group of jellyfish and the occasional sea gull, all of which kept us company for a while. Unfortunately, the second megacore employment on our shift was less successful. However, with the help of Lee and the Stereophonics, we used the sediment to preserve samples for Dario, who is going to undertake macrofaunal analysis on the top 1 to 2 cm of the sediment. Moreover, Xana spotted some foraminifera on the surface of two cores, and we also retained sliced multicore samples for her.

The third megacore reached the surface at around 3AM, which meant it was time to lift the forehead from the desk, wolf down the third cup of coffee and grab camera and ruler. One of my favorite moments is when the megacore is hauled back on deck after its journey down to the depths of the ocean carrying twelve well preserved cores. These in turn may contain beautiful life forms that have managed to adapt to this extreme environment and maybe will cause some tired scientist to leap from his or her chair in great excitement. Due to insufficient amounts of sediment within the cores, we sliced each core down to 10 cm whenever possible and preserved samples for both Dario and Jeroen. Xana, too, processed a multicore for her meiofaunal analysis. The temperature in the CT lab had been steadily rising, which is why we transferred some of the cores into the geology lab.

The fourth megacore this night was employed at 3:30AM and reached the surface again at 7:25AM. This time the cores were well preserved and showed several very distinct sediment layers. We started slicing the cores before the day shift took over at 8AM. They noted that the sediment was much sandier compared to previous deployments. They then deployed SHRIMP and noted greater faunal variety compared to previous sites including a number of different pennatulids, ophiuroids, and anemones. Raquel launched an XBT probe, which measures temperature and depth.

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April 2006
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