Friday, September 2, 2011


Gareth here, now back on dry land and relaxing at home with my family after a busy couple of days of off-loading equipment and personnel. Everyone is happy to be back, but it was an incredibly successful cruise and we're all feeling very satisfied. I am immensely proud of our team and all that we accomplished, all done with camaraderie and a smile. The cruise of course also owes much of its success to the superb efforts and abilities of Captain Diego and his officers and crew. Ocean-going research is all about teamwork between the bridge, crew, and science party, and this cruise to me represented the finest kind of collaboration.

The whole science party on the fo'c'sle. From left to right: Peter Wiebe, Jacinta Edebeli, Gareth Lawson, Katie Wurtzell, Alex Bergan, Jon Fincke, Leo Blanco Bercial, Amy Maas, Cris Luttazi, Katherine Hoering, Mohammad Muslem Uddin, Aleck Wang, Nancy Copley, and Tim 'The Bird Machine' White. [ Photo: Capt. Diego Mello]

A few numbers: all told we spent a whopping $695,184 on ship-time alone -- these kinds of expeditions are certainly expensive propositions. We traveled over 4300 nautical miles, a very impressive distance, equivalent to about twice the width of the US -- and all done at an average of about 12 miles an hour! We went through over a hundred gallons of ethanol to preserve our net samples, and collected hundreds of gigabytes of data.

Limacina retroversa, a species of pteropod that proved to be very abundant in the northern part of our study area. These beautiful shells are only about a millimeter long! [Photo: Nancy Copley]

Now we enter the next phase of the project, where we churn through those data and samples to glean as much information as possible on pteropods and their environment. By next year we'll no doubt have fresh insight into this problem that will help guide our continued fieldwork -- next summer we'll be back on the water, this time in the Pacific, to repeat the exact same sampling in the very different pH conditions of the northeast Pacific. Stay tuned to find out what we learn!

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