Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tension On The Line

This morning began with a much awaited “dog” hunt. The now colloquial slang is the preferred terminology for sediment trap hunting. As our lab prepared for the onslaught of new samples the morning plans were quickly foiled. The upper trap set, at around 80 meters, failed to collapse on its journey to the surface and continued collecting junk, thus contaminating our sample. With the smaller trap on the fan tail, the crew moved their attention to the larger deep trap. Yet, caught by a strong crossing wave, the deck hands scattered to safety as the increased tension severed the line. The loss of any

equipment always adds to the frustration of the crew, but with a replacement in the works and with ample time remaining in the cruise there are plenty of particles that remain to be collected.

Minus the lack of new samples, work in the lab continues. Our comprehensive approach to assessing the role of microbial degradation of sinking particles is being spearheaded on several fronts, and producing interesting results. Onboard, we are currently examining a novel application of a microbial indicator strain to detect the presence of our signaling molecules, AHLs. Additionally, we are researching the effect of AHL’s on the rate of microbial oxygen use, or their metabolic response to AHLs. Complementing this study we are investigating the rate of enzyme breakdown of the particulate matter in response to AHLs. While conclusive results are pending, initial findings are promising that we are heading in the right direction.

Outside of the lab, throughout the afternoon, we admired the view of a large Navy convoy

passing through the neighborhood. The floating roomer was that they were en route to carry out annual international war games off the Hawaiian Islands. Yet, this change in scenery would not be the last of the day’s excitement. At roughly eight o’clock in the evening our multipurpose winch, responsible for all deployments and recoveries, went out of service. Operations have come to a grinding halt, as the crew asses the problem at hand. The rest of us wait anxiously for news concerning the future of our data collection.

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