Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pacific scouting expedition

Amy here reporting in on the next development in our research project. I was awarded a fantastic opportunity to be part of a training expedition called the UNOLS Early Career Investigator Oceanographic Research Cruise Training Program. The goals of this program are to teach new scientists, post-docs and graduate students the ins and outs of planning for and leading a research cruise. As part of the course, 14 beginning scientists from a number of different disciplines are working together to coordinate and execute a 7-day cruise leaving from Newport Oregon on the R/V Wecoma. Our research objectives range from testing out new sensor equipment, to bottom core sampling, to midwater trawling for invertebrates.
Photo by: Paul Suprenand
I, of course, am looking for pteropods. This expedition is giving me a change to get some preliminary ideas about what species of pteropods we can expect to find next year during the Pacific section of our Ocean Acidification project. Similar to our Oceanus voyage, I will be gathering pteropods from the surface waters at night, identifying them, and doing physiology experiments to see how they respond to elevated CO2 conditions. I am also bringing home as many species as I can to start assessing how different the populations are between the Atlantic and Pacific. If you want to see more on the different projects or find out what we have been learning about the process of putting together a research cruise please feel free to follow us on: http://csw.unols.org/ Ship location can be found at http://webcam.oregonstate.edu/wecoma/

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!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fun Aboard the Oceanus

Sunrise, Sunset, and Sea Life
One of the great things about being at sea is that you are always in a perfect position to watch the sunrise or sunset (that is if you are awake and it is not overcast outside)! When the conditions are right, every morning or evening we gather outside to watch the either the first or last rays of light reflect on the sea. Also, whenever possible, we help Tim scout for sea life. Over the past few days we have seen many Shearwaters, Petrels, Turns, dolphins, sea turtles and pilot whales.

Photos by: Katie Wurtzell
A Little Cup is a BIG Deal
Prior to arriving at our mid-way day/night station, we made time for arts and crafts: decorating Styrofoam cups. These cups were attached to the CTD rosette and lowered to a depth of 3000m. As pressure increases with depth, the air from the cups is squeezed out, and thus the cups shrunk. The pictures, cruise information, and other messages drawn on the cups were deformed but serve as a unique souvenir from the trip.

Photos by: Nancy Copley
The Library
The library is a common place to hangout when we are off watch. Here, someone can always be found reading, playing cards, chatting, or watching movies.

Photo by: Peter Wiebe
And We Eat…
So far we have consumed:
350 lbs fish
350 lbs meat
150 lbs flour
120 lbs potatoes
60 lbs butter
30 lbs gummy bears
810 eggs
288 english muffins
240 soda (cans)
150 heads of lettuce
24 pineapple, cantaloupe, and honey dew
Photo by: Mark Anderson

-Katie and Katherine