Daily Update: A bountiful haul
By Amy Nevala
Put scientists in sight of marine organisms and rocks they have
waited 36 hours to examine and what do you get?
Madness, said biology student Jessie Philley, standing back from
the biologists and geologists flocking around the animal and rock sampling containers
brought to the ship this morning.
perhaps. But also magic. Since we located the black smoker chimneys
three days ago, we have peered at these creatures only through
a remote video camera lens. Today we were able to touch, see
and smell the rocks and animals of the Indian Ocean vents up
And smell them we did. Rotten egg odor filled our
noses when biologist Tim Shank poured a container full of fresh
vent shrimp into a bucket, then hauled them inside to begin sorting
and extracting tissue from their abdomens for his genetics research.
We slurped the white crustaceans from the surfaces of vent chimneys
hours earlier, just before triggering the elevators rise to the sea surface.
Before dawn, Jason pilot and Expedition Leader Andy Bowen in the control
van released the elevator from its 250 pounds of steel weight on the
seafloor. For nearly three hours it floated up, carrying the hydrothermal
vent samples we collected over the last day and a half.
After breakfast we gathered on deck to watch three
of the ships crew members
zip out in the motorized work boat to greet the still-rising elevator. For twenty
minutes we squinted at the blue-gray chop for a sign of our elevator. Then Seaman
Ed Graham shouted from his crane perch:
Hey, its over there!
A quarter mile off the starboard side, the elevators yellow plastic floats
bobbed in the six-foot seas. The work boat crew slowly worked their way to its
side, attached a line and dragged it to Knorr.
Though excited, the scientists took care in removing
their samples from the elevators
containers. Accurate research means keeping track of each crab, rock and any
other specimen collected, no matter how tiny. That way, we dont mix
up the data, said biologist Tim Shank.
Jason followed the elevators arrival on Knorr an
hour later. Other than a broken temperature probe, Jason is working
well. The DSOG team will fix the probe and make adjustments to
the elevator before we return both to the seafloor tonight for
further collection and exploration.
Testing equipment on the seafloor is trial
and error, said geologist
Dan Fornari. We are on a steep learning curve but the DSOG folks
have been doing this for over a decade and are some of the best in the
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