JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 4: Tuesday 5 June 2007
Position: 38°16.04N  9°10.15W
Weather: Clear, very calm - we can see Portugal clearly

Helen writes:

"Well, surprise surprise, another busy day today! I successfully woke up at 3.30am, had a shower and made my way to the wet lab. The SAPS (Stand-Alone Pumps) and CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth sensor) belonging to Kostas were still underway, so no ROV work to do, but I decided to stay up anyway and get into the routine. It was a brilliant opportunity to take photos of Kostas’ work (see below), and chat to some of the crew who I don’t often see during the day. Their choice of music at 4am was interesting to say the least! Duelling banjos and the Wurzels!

Having seen the kit come up, the ship then had to steam for an hour and a half to its next position. Still not wanting to go to bed, I watched the second half of ‘The Mexican’ with some other members of the midnight-midday watch who couldn’t go to bed either. There are regularly periods of time on the ship where there is nothing to do because you are waiting for something else to happen. As the cruise continues, there will be fewer and fewer of these gaps as the scientists will have samples to analyse and other work to do.

At about 6.30, there was a call that dolphins could be seen to the stern, port side, in the morning sunrise. We rushed out to see them, and they were absolutely stunning; sadly I have no photos as my camera ran out of charge during the early morning photos! I have been assured that dolphins are a regular sight in this area, so I hope I shall have an opportunity to see them again soon!

At 7am the ROV began its descent, we had to set up blank video tapes and DVDs to record the day’s action, and then just as our shift came to a close, we put the tapes in to start recording the day’s events. Breakfast awaited me upstairs; today I went the whole hog and had hash browns, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, scrambled egg and black pudding! Just what was needed after a cold 4 hours with very few other people around! At 8.30, I checked my e-mails and went back to bed, the plan being that an hour's nap would do me the world of good and leave me ready to face the rest of the day and my next four hour watch. 2 hours later, I woke up – whoops! Feeling more than a little guilty I went back up to the labs and I don’t think anyone had thought anything of it! I’ll bear this in mind for the future… I popped into the ROV and then it was time for lunch!

I spent most of this afternoon making a video tour of the ship and then trying to edit it using the special software. It wasn’t very successful! After an hour, I managed to get the material onto the computer, and now I just have to clip it. Keep an eye open for it in the next couple of days!

After my episode with the video, it was back into the ROV van for another 4 hours, and we saw some fabulous sights: Isis was successfully used to take samples (pictures below) from across the region studied today. She resurfaced at about 7.20 pm, so had been below the surface for 12 hours, reaching depths of 1400m.  At 7.20, we donned our safety gear (hard hats and steel toe-capped boots) to go and retrieve the samples.

So, it’s now 8pm, I’m just going to process the photo’s I’ve taken, and then it’s back to bed, ready for another 3.30am start tomorrow!"

Deep water SAPS: The 4-8 watch bring in the SAPS for Kostas. In this picture you can see (from left) Steve, Mark, Kostas, Jez and Jeff.

Removing the SAPS filter: Taken at approx. 5am, Kostas is removing the paper filter from the SAPS. It has collected particles from the water.

Feeding the sea urchin: This sea urchin was collected yesterday by Isis. It is needed for experiments on respiration. Sarah wants to keep it alive and so it will need food. The sea urchins that you find on rocky beach shores will sometimes eat lettuce or potato, so Sarah is giving these to the deep-sea urchin to see if it will eat them.

this sea urchin was collected using suction during the ROV's dive today. You can clearly see its poison sacs have been released, which it uses as a form of defence.

Newly arrived coral & squat lobster: The coral and squat lobster were collected by the ROV during the continued suction of a small area.

Virginia writes:

"This morning before breakfast I had some time to use the gymnasium and the sauna. People on board James Cook can use several fitness machines to do some exercise and also the sauna to relax. I and Teresa Amaro, another Portuguese researcher, took some pictures to show you this area of the ship. At 7.20-8am we have breakfast. Below are some photos - we have a choice of fruit, bread and a typical English breakfast or a Continental one (with milk, cereal, bread, toast, cakes, yoghurt), cofee, tea, etc. Today I selected a tasty English breakfast!

Virigina tries out some of the equipment in the gym

The inside of the sauna - without steam!

After a hard workpout, you need a good breakfast...

Tonight the ROV collected six cores from DIVE42 site in the Lisbon Canyon (38º 26 ´492´´ N and 9º 19 ‘’ 085’’ W, and 568 m depth), so we began the work with the sediments. After the breakfast, Andy prepared the sediments of one core to pick benthic foraminifera (microscopic creatures). Xana will analyse the DNA composition of these species. I also spent most of the day picking foraminifera...Xana will have plenty to work on!

Today the ROV carried out a video transect to study the distribution of animals, to collect species for identification, and to recover new cores for Andy and Kostas. A large amout of water was filtered near the sea bottom for analyses of particulate organic matter.

This core show traces of bioturbation
(burrows made by living organisms)

The core is cut and then sieved

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