Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bering Sea: Day 12-13 - Sediment trap & a Gumby suit contest

The internet has been sporadic over the past couple of days. I have been writing away, and my third and fourth blog posts are now live at Nature's Great Beyond blog. You can read them here... What is happening to pollock? and Wild Weather, Damaged Equipment, and the Oscillating Control Hypothesis. Or if you click here it should bring you to "search results" that show all the posts I've written about the Bering Sea Project. I suppose the most important excitement of the last few days was that I made my first vlog. I was hoping to be able to upload it for Adventures in Climate Change but I couldn't get it to send. You will just have to wait until I'm back home. However you can see photos below of the subject. I did a Gumby suit contest. These are survival suits that you put on if you ever should have to abandon ship, God forbid in these near-freezing waters. These Gumby suits can save your life but they're challanging to put on, and you're supposed to be able to do it in 60 seconds or less.

This is the ship's third mate, Eric, me giving my vlog spiel, and Colin to the right. We did it on the O3 deck which was a nice open deck without any equipment on it, right under the pilothouse. Little did we know we had a crowd of onlookers up there!
Onlookers in the pilot house!
Here's a shot of Rachel Allison shooting the video of us.
We get started... Colin laid down and tried to get his on that way.
He even looks ike Gumby doesn't he? Mine is too big and very challenging to get on. I had trouble with the zipper. And notice how his Gumby suit has five fingers, while mine has "crab claws"? I think I got the alien survival suit. Try zipping your emergency zipper with 3 fingers!
Note to self: Do not try to put your Gumby suit on over your hat. It totally covered my eyes and I couldn't see anything. It was very disorienting!
After that one happened (Colin one, and did a happy dance, which is hilarious on video!) we staged a second contest between me and Second Mate Eric. The photos didn't turn out because it was raining and I think my camera got foggy lens syndrome, but the videos we shot were great! I will be sharing them via the Adventures in Climate Change Wendee Holtcamp Report sometime after I get back.
Another thing that happened was picking up the sediment traps. This only happens 4 times on the whole cruise because they have to be placed along the continental shelf slope. Most of the time we cruise on the Continental shelf, which is a bit shallower. There are a couple very deep stations at the ends of the transects, like the one we did the cups at, and then there are a handful on the slope, which is like a sloping cliff right before it drops off. That's where the sediment traps have to go. They get deployed and then picked up about 18-24 hours later. They have a satellite transmitter on them that emails a GPS location to the scientists on board. Once the boat gets close to that area, we went up in the pilothouse to watch through binoculars. Once we spot it, we go down on deck until we get close. This is Thompson crew member Dana looking at the sediment trap floats.
A photo of the sediment trap team - Pat Kelly - a grad student at University of Rhode Island, Jonathan Whitefield who is about to be a grad student at University of Alaska, and Matt Baumann, also a grad student at URI.
The sediment trap is a contraption that has 4 sets of 4 bottles, each separated out by several feet. The orange floats keep it suspended in the water. When they retrieve it, they then haul the floats on board one at a time first. The bottles are still in the water at this point.
This is just one of those photos where I don't know what to say... we need a caption contest!! Funny!
Here you can actually see the bottle setup if you look closely.
Next they bring the bottles back to lab and let them settle for an hour. Then they start filtering them through this setup. The ship is FULL of filtration setups. Several different scientists have these going on. I think I am going to take a photo of all the different ones!
Here's a shot of Matt in the lab working on something or other.
After they filter all the water through the filtration setup, they end up with these little glass fiber filters that they bake in an oven. Then it's ready for analysis.
A shot of the deep blue Bering Sea as we cruised through.
Here is Sean sorting out the benthic sediment critters as he does almost every day.
Sean found this skate egg case in his benthic sample, collected with the Van Veen Grab. Skates are like rays, relatives of sharks.
We got silly one day and took pictures. This is Colin's mugshot. Amazing how he can go from calender model to this, aye? ;)
This is Greg's mug shot. Or maybe just a weird shot...
Greg decided to put a batman scarf on his head, so I shot a photo.
This is Rachel Allison, a technician in David Shull's lab at Western Washington University, and Jessica Cross a grad student.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 11: Fun with Cups

The cups were placed inside mesh onion bags and then tied to the CTD (see earlier post) with plastic clip ties. This is Jonathan Whitefield (soon to be a grad student at University of Alaska-Fairbanks). He is British and pretty funny!
The two at front that say Savi and Sam I made for my kiddos! The cup in back is actually a paper cup but about the same size as the pre-shrunken styrofoam cups.

My kids two cups next to an apple, for scale.

This was Jonathan's cup after it shrunk (left) and one he didn't shrink. It has the latitude and longitude of the NP15 station where we did this at (I also put it on the inside of my two cups I made), & the depth - 2,700 meters or 8,900 feet. That's more than a mile and a half under the sea! Someone calculated it is like 4000 psi of pressure.
A shot of everyone's cups that came up. The shot is out of focus -sorry!

The earlier photo of the "mess hall" where we eat didn't have people in it so I took one with some people. This is Sarah Jennings and Rachel Allison. Sean eating the finished product (on the right) of the halibut caught earlier. The chefs made a halibut stir-fry which was slightly spicy, with ginger and peanut sauce. It was sooooo delish!!
Elizabeth (Ebett) Siddon with the codend, the end part of the MOCNESS, which captures larval fish
The contents of the codends, ie what the MOCNESS caught. Megan Schatz, a tech at University of Washington, working on her filtration experiments.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 8-10: Sea Life

I took this one on of the windows of sunshine we had one of the these last few days. After several days of very calm weather, now we're heading into stormy seas again.

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendee Holtcamp

For days we've seen no land, nothing but gray clouds and water (and the occasional patch of blue sky and sun like we had a few days back). So you can imagine the excitement of seeing an island! We went past St. Paul n the Pribilofs yesterday. I recorded a podcast and audio slideshow for Adventures in Climate Change which should be up Monday so keep an eye out for it! Nothing much new here, other than we have traversed down the NP (Nunavak-to-Pribilof) transect which runs southwest and for whatever reason the internet does not work when the boat goes in a southwesterly direction. We've had short windows when we're on a "station" when the boat turns just-so, and we can quickly download email or tweet or whatever. We're just at the end of that transect, at one of the deepest stations on the trip - around 8,900 feet. We're sending decorated styrofoam cups down on the CTD to watch them shrink like shrinky-dinks (that was a big thing for kids in the 1970s!). I'll report back with a photo once they're back up. The CTD is coming up from depth as I write this. Here are some random photos from the past few days.

Chief Scientist David Shull's calendar shot. It's a bit shaded because of his hard hat but I think this is a nice photo of him, don't ya think?
Yesterday some of the guys went fishing. They caught a halibut! Capt. John cuts it up with Colin.
Some nice halibut steaks here, aye?

When the waves got really big, spinning on this chair was like a ride at Disney World! What can I say? One has to find something to entertain oneself at sea...
Roger needed a hug.
A shot of the rarely seen bue sky in the Bering Sea!
There's a high school teacher on board, Jason Pavlich, and he has this funny sticker on his computer. He is blogging from the boat for his Red Hook High School here.
Sean got this cool crab in the Van Veen Grab sediment sample.
In the bin where it was sitting with all th eother organisms, it covered itself with "stuff" so I put it a couple things on it to show how it did that in this pic here under the scope.
The Van Veen brought up a whole ton of brittle stars of all different sizes.
One of the brittle stars.
What did I say about entertaining oneself at sea? Coloring cups, lining up seastars, spinning in chairs... What can I say? One gets a wee bit restless. I'm trying really hard to convince someone else to battle me in a Gumby suit putting-on contest so I can make a video.
A sideways shot of St. Paul Island where we saw fur seals, orcas, and lots of birds.
We dropped Wes Strasburger off there, and they used this boat to get him off the ship and to the island. Looks a bit scary!
Bird observers Brian Hoover and Sarah Jennings in the "bridge" which is the top of the boat where the captain guides the ship (or whoever is on watch). When we went past St. Paul Islands in the Pribilofs there were a lot more birds. I saw lots of thick-billed murres (which look just like penguins - black and white) - aka tubby moos, horned and tufted puffins, auklets (aka flying avocados), a lapland longspur, and more.
Here are the colored cups, all ready to go to the bottom of the Bering Sea!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 7: Blue sky!

It was a rare blue sky day in the Bering Sea and everyone was in good spirits! I love the way this image catches the sunlight sparkling on the ocean. Since the sky was clear I told everyone to stay up late for a sunset viewing party! I tried to get others to stay up for the previous day's Bongo nets, but no one did. Rachel did wake herself up at 230am to see them.
Speaking of Bongo nets, here are a few shots of the crew putting the Bongo nets in the ocean, which are used to scoop up up krill, copepods, and other zooplankton at night,.
Another shot of the Bongo nets. Tracy and Pat on the left and Megan on the right.
It's a little out of focus but this is Megan and Tracy with their catch.
A view of the ocean and sky from the side of the ship. I love the way the sunlight sparkles on the water in this image. If you enlarge it, you can see the way the ocean looked through binoculars while I watched a pod of Dall's porpoises dance in the waves. It was that midnight blue-black, with wavelets inside of waves. Mesmerizing.
Someone joked the first day or so, "Whose this Roger guy they keep talking to on the radios"? I found him! Had his nose to the wall in a corner. He must have gotten in trouble.
Greg thought Roger needed a hug.
This was taken a couple days back actually but this is Colin at work in the glove bag - aka the love bag. See mom, he's smiling! That's Rachel to the right of him.
While walking around the ship, I realized I hadn't taken a photo of this view of the vessel yet. This is from the main deck facing towards the bow. The fantail (where a lot of the research takes place) is behind this shot.
Sean Brennan (a grad student at University of Alaska-Fairbanks) and I goofing around on the deck while the sun was shining- my first self-portrait!
Lorelei and I thought we should make a calendar "BEST men of science" - he he.
Colin and Sean make the calendar's first pages for sure. It's too bad my sexy boyfriend Doug isn't here - he'd make the calendar for sure!!
I saw this, and it reminded me of something my daughter would take a photo of. She has a way of making the most mundane ordinary thing look interesting in photos! I am not sure I managed to make this interesting to anyone else (nor do I know what it is), but I like the way it looks. I was inside the mess hall when I noticed the sun starting to go down, and I quickly took this shot through the window. I love the salt-splattered look of this shot taken through the window.
The sunset at around 11:30pm. I love the way this catches the ocean movement and the sun's golden rays dancing on the water.
Pastels as the sun sets.
The sun fell below the horizon but the sunset lingered for another hour.
I took some shots of the incubation experiments on board while the sky was blue and the sun was setting. Looks pretty cool.
Another shot of the incubators. Krill caught in the Bongo nets are growing in here!
This isn't a good shot but these are three thick-billed murres that were out on the water as the sun was getting low. They look like penguins when they're flying! Of course, penguins don't fly...
The 3/4 moon was out - so beautiful!
The moon rising over the sea.
I love this shot. My daughter taught me that my camera could shoot in RAW so I took several of these in RAW and then couldn't figure out how to open them in Photoshop! Thank God for the internet... I figured it out. Oh, and by the way the clouds are back today...