Over the past three weeks or so we have been very busy, not leaving us much time to take stock of what we’ve actually done. We are now about to start on a 4-day transit to our next sampling site, the Vema ridge, giving us some time to look back on what we have accomplished so far. So with tomorrow being the halfway point (in time) of our cruise, here our some of the highlights so far.
We have had 8 successful ROV dives, during which a wide range of weird and wonderful deep sea creatures have been seen, from thresher sharks to a rare Dumbo octopus. Throughout these dives 1347 individual pieces of biology have been collected (a fair amount of these were tiny worms living on fan corals, but every creature big or small is useful).
During the ROV dives our main aim is to collect corals, fossil and live for paleoclimate dating and proxy work. Following the dives at our 2 sample sites, we now have 110 live and 1055 fossil solitary corals (corals that live as isolated individuals), not to mention the thousands of pieces of colonial coral (corals that live in multi-animal groups sharing an exoskeleton). These have all been labelled, photographed and boxed/bagged ready to be transported back to Bristol.
We have had 3 CTD’s, and sampled for various analyses including Carbonate, radiocarbon, dissolved oxygen, nutrients and trace elements. All of which have a different bottle and slightly different water sampling procedure. Combined with the Niskin bottles sent down on the megacorer and those on ISIS ROV this gives us a whooping great 581 water samples, as well as some beautifully decorated squashed cups.
As for the sediment sampling, at the moment our on-board foram specialists are now looking to see what species of foram are in the sediment we have collected, which will help us roughly work out how old it is.
The current sediment tallies include 9 megacores, a piston core, multiple push cores, and this morning we struck gold (a. k. a mud) on another successful gravity core attempt (giving a total of 3 gravity cores so far), leading to many delighted squeals of “We have mud”. This sets us up nicely to celebrate our half point (and Shannon’s birthday) tonight with a BBQ on deck. Fingers crossed the sun will stay out for us…
Blog Written By: Vanessa Fairbanks