Sunday, March 29, 2009

Last Dive

Today was our last dive (as I'm sure the title of this post implied...). It started out a bit frustrating with lots of sand and fish. The fish guys were happy, but the coral guys were not. I saw an octopus and started yelling excitedly, but we didn't stop to look at it because the coral guys wanted to find coral :( However, we eventually found a gigantic rock covered in coral and everyone was happy again (except me because I didn't get to see the octopus). But really, I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of this cruise. I've always been fascinated by the deep sea and I never thought I would be able to get so close to it--holding creatures brought up from 2000 meters in my hands... It was very special.

Tonight Jana and I rocked out and danced out on deck as a break to our wet lab work. It was a great moment. And very productive--I worked much faster when we were done :)

I'm going to miss the nights the most. The sunsets. The moon was amazing again tonight. As it set, it was a thin red smile on the horizon.

This is what the cups look like after traveling to the deep. I drew a squid on one, and my favorite quote from 20,000 leagues under the sea on the other... There is a big cup there for comparison.

We're gathering up photos of everyone on the ship--this was my unlucky portrait... do I kinda look spaced out?

Tomorrow we dock in Ft. Lauderdale and go through customs. Homeland security is supposed to be there to greet us. And then we will pack everything up and be back in Hawaii on Tuesday, just in time for my dive class. Yay! I'm already exhausted in anticipation...

Saturday, March 28, 2009


It is a beautiful cheshire cat moon tonight. There is nothing that makes you feel as humbled and small as standing out on deck, looking at the moon with a small glow on the horizon and nothing but darkness and water surrounding you. It made my heart break a little at the beauty of it...

I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic already and the cruise isn't even over. We have three days left and then I'll be back in Honolulu. Back to reality, proposal writing, catching up, classes, diving, responsibility, and poverty. I think Les has decided I am going to study zoanthids. Tonight he and Scott gave me a sample to do genetics with. I'm feeling a bit defeated... I'm gonna do cephalopods! I'm gonna do it til they tell me I can't--which is in a few months...

Yesterday we saw an octopus--a new species (for our cruise, not in biology)--but it swam away too fast. Then we saw the coolest little black squid with weird cat eyes. Today we did our deepest dive 2200 meters and saw many little picnogonids (which are my new favorite animal!), decapods, fish, bamboo corals and the like. I think tomorrow may be our last dive and then it will be transit days til we get back to Ft. Lauderdale.

Here is a pic of a picnogonid (sea spider) another dumbo octopus :) and the squid with cat eyes curled up on the sand--it's hard to tell he's a squid, but I promise he is!

I'm going to miss being rocked to sleep every night by the waves. I'm going to miss living on the ocean. Even though I live in Hawaii, I don't see the ocean nearly as much as I want to. I sound so spoiled! No more complaining. Where did I put my complaint bracelet?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We've traveled about 750 miles out to sea, and yesterday, we turned around. We're headed back towards the mainland. But we still have some dives left (3?). Today we dove by Abaco Island and started our dive with a dumbo octopus sighting. Yay! We ended up seeing 3 octopi--THREE!! on our dive today. It was a cephalopod heavy dive, but I'm not complaining. Les was threatened not to let me have the footage until I graduate--only if I do coral work for him. Haha. He said I could potentially do zooanthid work too. We'll see. I just wish I could do all science! Study all organisms! All biology! Why do I have to pick one? We also got a ton of corals (which made everyone else happy).

So, my friend Laure has a computer that accepts my camera card! Here are some of my photos.

This is the ROV coming out of the water--doesn't it look like a big glowing bug in the ocean?

Here are pictures of when the space shuttle launched. It was much better in real life...

More pictures of our only day on land. I was trying to do that thing where you hold the ship on your hand, but Jana thought my thumb was the ship, ship in my hand. But, I thought you might enjoy a silly photo of me trying and failing to do something cool...


Here is my bunk--there are four girls in one room. I'd say the room is about 6 feet by 10 feet, maybe... maybe even less. I have the top bunk and my left thigh is seriously bruised from sliding down every morning to get out of bed...

I got my styrofoam cups back and they are so cute!! I will post pictures when I can :)

Here are some more of the real stars of the cruise:

There are some pretty amazing creatures that I can't post photos of because they may be new species and scientists get nervous about other people stealing their research. But, because this is a coral and fish cruise, the don't care about the octopods, so I can post as many of those as I want! More to come...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Photos

My friend Jana gave me the photos from her camera--here is a smattering..

Here is a picture from one of the first days. Les is clearly explaining something to me. I look confused...

Laure and me (in my sexy helmet):

Jana (another fiery red-head), Laure and me:

Putting the ROV in the water

Crab! We caught this guy on the sea floor and then I gave him a talking to. We had to put him in a plastic bag and freeze him, but he kept poking holes in the bag and squirting water everywhere.

Decorating styrofoam cups in the mess:

Having a beer at a resort on Long Island:

Jana and I :) She made me laugh so hard yesterday I cried. I haven't laughed like that in forever.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today is a transit day. We are booking it to our next location and sloshing around. Taking a shower this morning was quite the ordeal. I think I have new bruises on my elbows to go with the other fifty I already have from sea faring life.

Also, how the F*@% did I get poison ivy on a boat in the middle of the ocean?! I've never had it before, and my first time getting it has to be at sea. I don't get it. It's really itchy. Poo. But I don't have that much of it, so it's not too bad, I guess.

Last night, I started going though some of the frame grabs we have of different specimens for Les and I decided to take some to put on my blog--so there will finally be photos!

Here is a pic of the first octopus we saw. Isn't it the most adorable little octopus? I just want to eat it and have its babies.

Here is a galatheid crab, protecting the roost (a sponge):

And here is an oceanic white tip!

I have lots more photos, but I don't want to overwhelm people, so I'll just start with these.

Today some people were talking about what their favorite time of the day is. Someone said eating (cuz the food is incredible!) someone said showering, someone said sleeping. All very silly answers that I completely agree with. But then I thought about what really is my favorite time. I decided it is when I am putting the newly recovered coral samples in formalin out on the deck. It always happens to be right after sunset, during that twilight time when there is a red glow on the horizon. The sky is a dark purple, the stars are just starting to peak out, the sea is a deep indigo, and a red streak separates the two. I go in and out of the wet lab, fixing the specimens, and I never mind it. I'm usually alone out there and it is very peaceful.

Rum Cay

We're at Rum Cay today and we've just started our dive. We all decorated our styrofoam cups to put on the ROV to be taken to great depths and shrunken. Mine is right by the camera and I can see it slowly, slowly succumbing to the pressure; every tiny bubble of air squeezed out, billions of tons of water crushing and squishing and bearing down on my little cup.

I have been reprimanded for my lack of photos. So, this morning, I went to put my photos on my computer and realized, that while I brilliantly brought my camera charger, I neglected to bring the camera cord that connects to my computer. I could have sworn I brought it. I'm vexed. Oh well. I think I may try to steal some photos from the dive and I'll post those :) And there are other people with cameras too, so I may get some pictures from them in the meantime.

Alright, time to get to some serious work. We are almost at the bottom! Another update will follow at the end of the day...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hog Cay

We got the day off today!!! And we were close enough to Long Island in Hog Cay to go ashore. Now I can actually say that I've been to the Bahamas and touched the sand with my toes :) It was picturesque... Perfect sunny day, clear turquoise water, maybe six people around... And I got to have a beer--Kalik, which is the Bahamian beer. The boat is dry--no alcohol allowed--contraband! So, it was nice to have some sweet sweet alcohol...

Also, I got my taxes done today! Yay!! I figured it all out by myself (...well, Turbo Tax helped) and made a little money :)

And, I think I have poison ivy. Or bed bugs. I have tiny little red dots on my arm that are itchy. They started last night and have spread. A guy on board has poison ivy and I will be so mad if he gave it to me. But, I guess it could be bed bugs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We are a Booby Cay today, by Conception Island. I'm not making this up. And on a boat with 13 men, terrible jokes abound...

Something amazing happened today...We saw a DUMBO OCTOPUS! Ahhh!!! I was so excited, I was pooping my pants! (Not really, although that probably would have added to the excitement). It was a little purpley-red guy with cute little grey eyes. Just a gelatinous blob of cuteness. I want to eat it! Ahh!! I love cephalopods. I wanted to look at it forever, but we had to move on...

As we were ascending from our dive today, something happened with the ROV and it is apparently tangled up. We are all sitting around for it, waiting to get our coral samples out. It's going to be a long night. But we got a couple of corals :) It was mostly sandy bottom, but the corals we got are cool and one of them had a shark egg case on it (we'll see how it survives the pressure).

Ooo!! The ROV is here!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shark and Hump Day

This morning, I went out on deck for some fresh air and sunshine and spotted an oceanic white tip hugging the side of the boat. It was at least 8 feet long--very exciting! When I went in to tell everyone, three more came! They followed us all day. They really are majestic beasts, dark shadows lurking a few feet below the surface, cutting lazily, but with purpose through the water... When we brought the ROV back later in the day, they were swimming close enough that we got some great video of them.

Then, when I got back into the cabin, there was a shark in the deep sea too! It was a very sharky day. We also had a very successful dive in terms of coral collection. And, today I got to drive some camera controls on the ROV! I'd say it is akin to playing a poorly designed video game manipulating frustratingly inaccurate controls, struggling to get a picture in focus worthy of a science magazine while also looking out for any nebulous blobs that might be of interest and not pissing off the ROV pilot. But, other than that, it was actually quite fun. It's a position of power. And the head scientists are right there (Les and Scott) and I got to ask them lots of questions. This cruise has been extremely educational already and we've just reached the halfway point! Today was the Hump Day--we're just halfway done--whoo! Time is passing very quickly.

Tomorrow we are going to a place called Booby Key, or something (?). I'm not sure, really. But I thought I heard something about boobies...

Friday, March 20, 2009


We just saw a whale!! Or really, just the whale spout... But still. It's nice to get outside every once and a while. I feel like I am turning into a vampire. We sit in the ship with all the lights off all day, staring at computer screens, waiting to see coral. By the time we get the ROV out, the sun is usually down, so it was nice to have a little sun break :) I'm sure people think I'm out in the Bahamian sun all day, but I bet I'll be whiter after this trip than I was before I came here...

So far at this site, we haven't seen anything... we'll see. That's not true at all--we've seen tons of fish! Very cool fish no one has ever caught on video, lot's of swimming sea cucumbers (my favorite is the Peniagone), we saw a goose fish (otherwise known as "scrotum" fish), tripod fish, an amazing galatheid crab. Lots and lots of cool moving organisms, but vertebrate and invertebrate alike, but no corals. It means less work for me tonight and less exposure to formalin, but the coral scientists are getting antsy...


Last night--we hit something. We don't know what, but Les thinks maybe an animal. It knocked our left bow propeller and now we are missing a blade. They thought it might have been a fishing net, but when they went out to look for it, there was no rope, and something would have stayed tangled if it had been it was probably an animal. Sad.

But, it meant that we could go swimming this morning! Yay! I didn't think it would happen! We weren't supposed to ever have a chance to go swimming--but today we did!! We're right off the coast of Eleuthra Island, the water is clear, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I feel like a flower, leaning toward the light and water (although, this is salt water). It was lovely. Someone had a mask that I borrowed and I dove down as far as I could go without fins. Unfortunately, that only seems to be about thirty feet (which was how deep the bottom was).

When I got out, I took my specimens out of formalin and now am doing my population biology homework. Yay! I was just complaining about having no time to myself and I guess Poseidon heard, or maybe it was Neptune. I feel bad for the boat (and what ever animal we hit) but it seems like it won't hurt us too much. We are still going to do a dive today, hopefully around noon. The later we get in the water though, the less sleep I'll get--ahh! But, I don't mind :) I'm in an excellent mood today--so happy to be alive, in the Bahamas, doing science...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


We ended up near the point of Cat Island and started the ROV around 11. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We went down without a hitch, found some coral right away, and started collecting. I feel like we are in that part of a safari where you've been going for a few days and zebras and giraffes just don't cut it anymore. Now I wanna see a lion. Or more octopus... Or a squid. Really any cephalopod will do. But maybe I'm being greedy--I already saw an amazing one!

However, we did see two Oreo fish which have never been seen in this area before. They are extremely cool looking fish. Also, while I was looking at a hydroid, I realized it kind of looks like when Ursula would shrink people down if they didn't pay the price in The Little Mermaid (the Disney version).

We brought up the most amazing Paramuricea covered in zoanthids today--imagine a pink coral that kind of looks like wads of bubblegum stuck together and then covering it are hundreds of yellow colonial anemones. We're not sure whether they are parasitic or not, but they are stunningly splendiferous!

Some strange sound is coming from the ship...we've slowed down to a crawl. I'm choosing to ignore it til someone comes to get me to tell me to abandon ship...I think we'll be fine.

Alright, exhausted


Yesterday was yet another successful dive! It began quite slowly, but in the last two hours we hit upon another small garden of corals. It was certainly not as diverse as our last site, but fruitful nonetheless. As we were bringing the ROV up, we had a nasty bit of weather and lost a couple of our science team to sea sickness... I jumped in and took over some of the duties of my comrade grad student :) She does so much for her lab! She's in a lab with two boys (men technically, I guess...) who really seem to take advantage of her kindness. They just sort of assume she'll clean everything up and do all the heavy lifting and they don't offer to help--it's kind of pissing me off. But I make sure to help her whenever I can and I think she appreciates it.

One of my duties for Les is fixing the coral samples in Formalin. I wear gloves but always manage to get covered in it anyway. I guess a little dose of formalin a day will help preserve me--maybe I should bathe in it and never age...unfortunately, I don't think it works that way. In fact, it's a pretty potent carcinogen. Oh well.

Also, last night, I was handling some Hollande's fixative and noticed later that my hand had turned yellow--like someone had gone at it with a highlighter. I wasn't worried, but the French girl (whom I've discovered works at the French Museum of Natural History--awesome!!) was concerned. I asked Les about it and he said I'll be fine, but I should probably wear gloves next time. It's funny, he is so nonchalant about chemicals he is giving me bad habits. The other grad student said, "Yeah, but he has already reproduced and doesn't have to worry about the chemicals entering his body!" I hadn't thought about it that way--I'm going to have mutant babies! MUTANT BABIES! MWAHAHA--they will take over the world.

Aaaaanyway, because of the weather last night and this morning, we are getting a late start. Apparently, there is a front coming in this weekend and we are gonna have to "hide" behind one of the should be fun.

Also, I discovered when we have "weather," we lose internet. So, I may be incommunicado at some point...

Hokay, back to work!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This morning we arrived at our new site off the island of Eleuthera. Some of the crew decided to do some fishing. I went out on the bow and there were two mahi mahi in the water--slicing through the waves, a strange iridescent blue with yellow tails. It seemed as if they were glowing...

We got the ROV in a little later today because it is a new site. But it's in now and we are almost at the bottom. We just saw a bright red ctenophore sparkling down it cillia and then a little squirting jellyfish.

I just went outside because one of the guys caught a mahi. He didn't have a bucket or a knife with him, so the fish was just sitting on the deck--desperately thrashing, banging its head, bleeding from its eyes and mouth. It was a bit more shocking than I had anticipated. Its skin was a brilliant turquoise but it was flashing and changing color. I didn't know, but apparently mahi mahi have the capability of changing the color of their scales. Finally, someone came with a knife to put it out of its misery...I think we'll eat it for dinner. The rest of the crew just went out to put out fishing poles too--we'll have lots of fresh fish tonight! Ahh!! I just found out they caught 4 more--we have 5 mahi mahi now!! Ceviche tonight :)

Speaking of food, I haven't eaten this much ever. So much food!! I've already gained at least five pound. We have a huge breakfast everyday--today was lox and bagels, quiche, and corn muffins. We had hamburgers and fries for lunch, and we have snacks and desserts and giant meals every day! I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't understand how they can feed us so much when most of what we do is sit in a chair all day watching the ROV feed. I'm never very hungry, but I feel almost obligated to eat because the chef is in the kitchen all day and he is this sweet little cajun guy who is taking care of us. I feel like he gets offended if we don't eat a lot. And the food is amazing. It's all so delicious. And now that I am a poor grad student, I appreciate free food so much an unhealthy extent. I desperately want exercise--hopefully one of these days we will be allowed to go swimming.

I just went out to see how the fishing was progressing and they got another one!!

Well, we are on the bottom now and I should probably get back to work--I'm in charge of the recording and frame grabbing which is kind of important--without it, there is no proof we were here!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Today was incredible. I woke up at 6:30 as usual, showered, ate a giant breakfast, and by 8, we were all ready to go. The bio box was secured, the ROV was running, and the sun was shining. We got into the water and got to the wall within an hour and a half (fast compared to previous dives). We collected so many corals within the first hour, that we decided to come up to the surface, empty the bio box and go back down.

On the second dive, we saw a dazzling red jellyfish with long, spindly, tendril arms drifting behind it. Oh, and even before we got to the deep wall, we saw a shark! I'm not sure what kind of shark it was, but it was very cool. Ahh--I'm so tired, I'm not explaining everything as well as it deserves... But, anyway, as you can tell by the title, we saw the most amazing, beautiful, sultry octopus lingering on the bottom. It was a weird pinky grey with giant dolls eyes. (someone said its eyes were like mine) It moved like jelly across the ocean bottom, expanding and contracting the skin around its eyes, lifting the papillae along its mantle, giving it the appearance of an alien with goose bumps studying the ROV.

I think Les thought that this cruise would help push me over to the side of deep sea research and leave the cephalopods behind (he basically said as much today), but... after seeing that octopus...he's got a challenge ahead of him. Although, I am loving this deep sea research. But--I just love science. I don't discriminate. This is why I just need a TV show to talk about science for the rest of my life and tell people why they should love invertebrates :)

We brought the ROV up around 8pm and started to process the corals. When we brought the Paramuricea on board, we turned off all the lights in the wet lab and saw the most splendid display of phosphorescence. Also, there was a dumbo octopus egg case on one of the corals--I got to keep it!!! There was no octopus in there, but still... very cool. Also, we had some crabs, some isopods, some crinoids, hydroids--a plethora of organisms from the deep!!

One sort of frustrating thing that has developed is that I've come to discover that being a grad student and a women doesn't really gain much respect on this boat...Or in science in general. I'm given a task to do, and then someone hovers over me the whole time making sure I do it correctly. Usually the task is something a monkey could do. But, I'm getting over it.

I'm exhausted. There is really no such thing as a weekend or a break...We work at least 14 hours a day and then collapse into bed. Oh well, I'll sleep when I'm dead. :)
Tomorrow will be another exciting day at a new site--we're on our way there tonight. Apparently there is supposed to be bad weather tonight and tomorrow, but hopefully we will still be able to get the ROV in the water.

More updates tomorrow...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bio box

Alas! This morning we went into the ocean with great anticipation and excitement. We found the wall again, and then somehow lost it, then found it again (which took approximately 3 hours). Then we were finally ready to start collecting. We found a huge bamboo coral, snipped it and started moving it into the bio box. So, the way the ROV is set up, the camera, arm and lights are in the front. Under the camera is a large white box that slides forwards to open. This is where the specimens are stored. We clipped off quite a big piece of coral that was awkward to get in the box. It was precariously balanced on the top. They tried to use the arm to hit it down into the box, but still a large branch was hanging off and threatening to fall. So after struggling for about a half an hour, the ROV driver was able to magically maneuver the thrusters in such a way to dance the coral into the box--we were thrilled! As they began to slide the bio box back into place though, it started to slowly move in the opposite direction--away from the ROV rather than under it. All of the sudden, the bio box was off!! Detached!! Floating in the abyss!! The coral was gone. No one could believe it. What a surreal moment. Thankfully the ROV operators kept their heads and somehow grabbed it with the arm. Then, we spent the next hour in extreme butt clench mode hoping it wouldn't drop while we brought the ROV to the surface.

So, that's it for today. We'll go out again tomorrow to the same spot, but I'm beginning to wonder about it... Hopefully third time is a charm, other wise, maybe this magnificent wall of beauty is cursed. Maybe it is home to Cthulhu who are trying to sabotage us! But the Bahamas might be a little to warm for them...


Yesterday was pretty incredible. It started the same as Saturday--getting the ROV in the water, searching for the bottom, and a gasp of excitement when we made it. We wandered around the bottom, taking pictures, collecting corals, but the real excitement didn't begin until about hour 6. We came upon a completely vertical wall covered--COVERED--in sponges, galatheid shrimp, corals, anemones, etc. The diversity was mind blowing. It was majestic, going on for hundreds and hundred of meters--up, and up, and up. Unfortunately, the arm of the ROV was acting up and we were unable to collect the samples we wanted. So, today, we are headed back to the same spot! The top of the shear cliff was at about 1700m and was covered in corals.

Let me explain something about the arm. It is excruciating to watch. You find a tree-like structure, a branch of which you want to collect. One person tries to maneuver the ROV into place, while another moves the arm (imagine a claw with only two fat fingers). Everyone is crowded around throwing their opinions out like popcorn. I'm very happy I am not an ROV operator! And we have three chief scientist on board--which causes a few alpha male issues... Anyway, the arm is rocking back and forth in the swell, closing frustratingly slowly, and maybe, just maybe, it gets it! If it does, then begins the long process of trying to bring it to the cold box under the ROV. Twisting the branch into the box, placing it gently down...and letting the grip go... That is where the issue starts--yesterday, 4 times in a row, the branch was balanced precariously on the edge of the box and then, slowly, ever so slightly, it would shift, and drift tauntingly off the edge, into the abyss while every one on the ship let out a defeated sigh.

Hopefully, we will have better luck today. Apparently there was something stuck in the claw which limited the grip capability.

The samples we did get were incredible. One bamboo was almost as thick as my finger! That is very big for a bamboo. We only took a small piece of it. When we were cleaning out the cold box on the deck, I was scraping the bottom with my fingers and managed to stick myself all over with glass sponge spicules. Welcome to the life of a deep sea biologist! It was kind of an indoctrination. Who else would ever come into contact with a species that lives 2000 meters below the surface of the ocean? Then, I looked up and saw the most amazing sight. A beautiful streak of light in the sky, illuminated by the sunset, greens and reds and yellows--it was the space launch!!!! We could see it from the ship!! It was incredible. It was a magical moment. You couldn't help looking at that and feeling alright about the world. I had just had a similar moment about 20 minutes earlier when I was watching the sunset on the bow--the moon was a perfect blood red orb, kissing the horizon. It was just an evening for feeling good about the world...I don't think I can ever be unhappy at sea. (I'm sure Poseidon is gonna test that philosophy)

Ok I need to get back to work. I have been taking lots of photos and plan to post them. We'll see if the internet will cooperate :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


We made it to the bottom after about 3 hours and it was a very exciting moment. It felt like landing on the moon. An eerie, barren landscape appeared, seemingly out of nowhere with shear cliffs covered in a strange slimy covering. Glass sponges greeted us around many corners and occasionally we saw eels and rat tail fish. But, the real excitement didn't begin until we found our first coral--yay!! We're a group of coral scientists, so that is the main purpose of this voyage. When we found the coral, we quickly (it's a relative term...) pulled up the specimen and stored it in a box to be taken to the surface at then end of the dive. We found a few other corals and some very exciting crustaceans that we were able to suck up into a vacuum like container. Once the ROV returned to the surface (after 8 hours), we scooped out our samples, got some genetics samples, put them in formalin and stuck them under the microscope. Everyone seemed especially relieved that nothing too terrible had happened (some of the technology was having trouble), we got some samples, and overall it was a successful day. We are now driving our way to the next dive site we will visit tomorrow!

Somehow things seem lonely in the deep sea. Every organism is a precious individual oasis in a landscape of detritus. The first anemone we came upon was a blood red color that struck a stark contrast against the white slimy substrate. Its long tentacles seemed to be reaching forever upwards like a child searching for its mother; somehow made sadder with the undulating current. Since reproduction and sexual selection are my main interest, I can't help but wonder how this lone anemone finds lovers. In reality, this anemone will likely reproduce asexually through budding, but I like the idea of it crawling through the desolate underwater mountains, desperately searching for another anemone to wrap its long arms around and trade gametes . It has the capability to surround itself with genetically identical companions, but it won't, because resources are scare in the deep sea and it is a selfish, lonely existence.

Well, clearly it has been a long day if I am ranting about the romances of a deep sea anemone... Actually, we are discovering that many of these animals have commensal relationships with other species--shrimp that live in sponges, brittle stars that live with one species of coral. That is actually a very interesting story. A certain species of coral will land as a single polyp and immediately afterward, a brittle star will land on it and they will grow up and live together and ultimately die together... There doesn't seem to be any benefit for the coral, nor is it any detriment, yet here it is--an extremely specific relationship between two species that found each other in the deep. Ok, need to go to bed. I'm finishing up work in the wet-lab and will soon be able to go to sleep (if jet lag will finally allow me to).

There are two French people on this cruise and I am learning some French from them--my favorite so far was learning that "snot" in French is "nose poop." I thought it was so adorable. Someone on the cruise said that if I think nose poop is adorable, I'm going to make a good mom. I hope that was a compliment...

More tomorrow!


Last night was pretty rough--thankfully, I'm not feeling sick at all, but other people are. This morning we got up, had some breakfast and then found out that the swell was too big to deploy the ROV. It may be that way for a few days, which would mean lots of free time. Thank goodness for the internet! And books--glorious books. I should be studying or writing my dissertation proposal... but---

OK, new development. Swell died down and we have deployed the ROV. It took a long time to get everything together, and about two hours ago, it started on it's journey into the abyss. The excitement on the ship was palpable...but now, after two hours, 2000 meters, and not reaching the bottom yet, it's turned into kind of a nervous energy. I had to get some coffee twice to make sure I didn't fall asleep at the monitor. All the lights are off in here so we can see if there is anything to see...

So far, we have mostly seen marine snow, plankton, a couple of shrimp and some jellyfish in the water column. It was very exciting! But, most of the people on this cruise are looking at benthic organisms (animals that actually live on the bottom substrates). Ooo, we just saw another ctenophore looking thing, but when we put the thrusters on, it disintegrated. Don't tell PETA.

I'm not sure how long this is going to last. Apparently we try to have dives last at least 6 hours, so we have 4 more hours of this--hopefully ending in the bottom :) I'm enjoying it and it seems most of the other science members are as well.

oop, just lost video... ok, back :) interesting--there seem to be a lot of troubleshooting things happening, but I suppose that is par for the first dive.

Well, I am going to get back to work. Being on this ship is wonderful, though. Last night, I stood out on deck and watched the sun set, no land in sight, just blue water and fading sun and me. Today, while watching the ROV get deployed, there were clumps of sargassum floating by, no doubt harboring hundreds of zooea and amphipods and other exciting microfauna. Apparently whales come by here often, so that is another thing to look forward to. Science makes me so happy--we're just a bunch of nerds on a ship excited by invertebrates...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Today I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale :) The cruise was supposed to begin tomorrow morning, but since it is a Friday the 13th, the crew has decided to leave tonight, fifteen minutes before midnight.

It seems like it is going to be a busy cruise with very little down time. So any of the extra work I thought I might get done is probably not going to happen... But, it will still be fun. Tonight for dinner we had amazing ribs and beans and corn and bread and cake!!! I will eat better on this cruise than I do on land--they are going to have to roll me off the ship.

I'm sharing a little berth with three other girls at the bottom of the ship. One girl is from France, one from Atlanta, and one is a quiet crew member of whom I know very little about. I think we will all be very close at the end of this adventure--you can't spend three weeks in such close quarters without either bonding or fighting...

It sounds like we are going to have internet access throughout the cruise--but it will be slow. Apparently we will be able to receive mail more easily than sending it, so I will still write letters to people.

I'll try to stay updated when I can!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I know I haven't been writing much recently, but it's been pretty crazy... I go diving again tomorrow, then camping, then off to my three week cruise on Tuesday!! Hopefully I will get everything done. It was kind of a challenging week, in more ways than one... Lot's of...reflection and analysis and pensitivity (:P i know that's not a real word, dad). Les brought up some things about my research that were hard to hear and instead of being able to go off and figure things out, I am going to go spend three weeks on a cruise with him! Yay!

Oh well, no more pity parties--no time for that! Must get packing!!

A guy put together music from lots of different youtube videos and made amazing songs. This one is my favorite, but all of them are really good--the related videos that pop up after this song will lead you into more fun :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

this site has beautiful photos of slime molds

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

T've been thinking about this book a lot recently. I keep looking at the moon and wanting it for myself...
Went diving last Saturday--saw whales, turtles, and octopods :) I didn't eat anything, and felt much better on the second dive. I guess I have learned my lesson, I can't eat and dive.

Diving again this Saturday, then camping with friends. Hope I can make it--so busy!! I'm leaving for the three week cruise next Tuesday and scrambling to get everything done.

My friend sent me these pictures of divers and snorkelers from NPR.

Also, this is amazing...creepy, but wonderful. The photos gets cut off on my blog--so click on it for the larger view.

Monday, March 2, 2009

i love this idea

and this