Mail Buoy

January 22 responses:

Dear Scientists,

I thought the coolest part of your expedition was the animals that live in the thermal vents.  Were you able to keep any of the animals alive after Jason brought them to the surface?  If so, how long were you able to keep them alive?

Thanks for sharing all of the fascinating information about the deep ocean.

Nolan Matura
7th grade, Mrs. Grace’s Science Class

Hi Nolan,

Most animals that live in the deep sea will die soon after they arrive at the surface. They are adapted to the high pressures at the place where they live.

In order to keep them alive after recovery one has to use a high pressure aquarium. Then the animals will stay alive as long as they have been kept cold during recovery. Seawater is pumped into the aquarium at pressures of 3000 pounds per square inch (psi) or higher.

Some researchers have kept tubeworms alive for months this way. A crab has been kept alive for almost a year. In both of these examples, the animals eventually died because of accidents.

Some animals, for example the white crabs at the vents, survive for days even without high pressure. They just move really slowly. This indicates that their nervous system is affected by the low pressure at the surface.

During the current cruise, we did not have high pressure aquaria for animals on board. We therefore had to use the animals for our experiments very quickly, before they died from lack of pressure.

Horst Felbeck



What type of robotics training (for example, formal education, on-the-job training, etc.) do the Jason technicians have? The robotics class is enjoying following the expedition daily updates and we are especially interested in the robotics aspect of the expedition.

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

Justin in Ms. Hummelsheim's Robotics class
Palmyra Middle School, Palmyra, Mo.

Hi Justin,

There's no one path to get into this kind of work. A background in math or science is excellent, and if you have an aptitude for mechanical stuff or computers, that's great too. Some people who work with us have studied ocean engineering, or mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering. Others have no formal training in robotics or engineering and learned on the job.

When I was a kid, I learned a lot just by taking things apart. If you're in a robotics class now, you probably have a good sense of curiosity. Don't be afraid to try new things!

All the best,
Rick Sanger
Jason Electronics Technician



The food sounds really good; is it actually good?

Ms. Sheild's classes at Clarke Middle School, Lexington, Mass.

Hi, Nat –

The food here really IS good! This is my first research cruise, so I was not sure what to expect, but the food is amazing. For breakfast there are always fresh tropical fruits available (mangoes, pineapples, papayas, and a few that I have never heard of but are super tasty), as well as pancakes and waffles with REAL maple syrup. I’m a vegetarian, but I do see that there is bacon every day! For all those bacon lovers, this is a big hit.

I am a big cheese fan, and the ship has really good cheese as well. In the mid-afternoon (I call it “cheese o'clock”) they put out fancy cheese and crackers.

The dessert may be the food I look forward to the most, though. The chefs go above and beyond to make the excellent desserts. One of my favorites was a "grasshopper pie," which, yes, does sound gross, but it’s not made with real grasshoppers—it is made with an oreo crust, lots of chocolate, mint frosting, and marshmallows on top! YUM! Another favorite of mine was sweet biscuits with strawberries, blueberries, and home-made whipped cream on top! The variety of desserts is unbelievable—we have had a different dessert every night.

I could go on and on about the food, but it is really as good as people say!

All the best,
Kerry McCulloch