Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Colorful catch

As a chemistry expedition, we spend most of our time manipulating samples of seawater at the molecular level, but today we were treated to some visible treasures in our traps. With the recovery of Trap 6 came a handfull of small fish, ranging in length from about 1 to 2 cm. Laura Hmelo took them on a tour of the ship in a 250 mL beaker so we could all marvel at their brilliantly colored organs within their translucent bodies. Ultimately, we returned them to their rightful home.

The astute observer aboard the Kilo Moana will actually note an abundance of sea life following us. Compared to the low nutrient level of the North Pacific, our ship is an oasis. Although we have yet to haul in a large fish, there are plentiful bait fish tanging along underneath us as we float around Station ALOHA.

Meanwhile, inside the labs, the filtering continues. Today featured another deep caste of the CTD, to 1500 m. Attached to the line were two McLane pumps, which pump much greater quantities of water than are collected by the Niskin bottles on the CTD. The group from the UW uses this water to study the oxygen-limited depths of the ocean. Where oxygen is limited, how do marine organisms respond? The group hopes to tease out some more details of nutrient cycling by studying this water.

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