Saturday, November 29, 2008

Final Days

We are in the final days of our cruise. Bittersweet really. It has been grueling as far as work, but I have made some new friends and been apart of something very special. It's been a long cruise, so we have all gotten to know each other pretty well. It's always difficult leaving a research cruise--there is a build up of excitement to go home, however, life on the boat is simple and vital. These experiences drive me back on land.
The science on this cruise has been great! Lots of excellent samples (we put a sampler in each day and recovered a good sample each time), that include the LVWS (large volume water sampler), CTD, and sediments. We all these, we have a opportunity to assess the viral population that is apart of the hydrothermal vent environments, as well as, the bacterial cohort.
I hope all are well. And, I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Because we are out on deck recovering and deploying our equipment before the sunrise...we get a good look at the start of every day and the sunrises are amazing!!!! I've never seen anything like it. So, here are a few pics.


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

It's been awhile since I've had enough time to sit down and write on the blog. (left is a picture of us at our deck BBQ: Bekki, Doug, Shawn and myself)Things are cranking away out here now, we arrived in Guaymas a couple of days ago and have completed 4 samples so far from various locations in the area. We also started a 'side-project' on the hydrothermal sediments (that are full of oil!!), which began last there is now early mornings and late evenings for me.
All of us on our viral team out here have had a chance to dive! That means we've had a really great time initiating everyone after their dive :). I have a pic of Doug getting doused by Karla Heidelberg and myself with the coldest water yet. He had been bragging about being able to withstand the pain, however, Karla made a slight comment about there being a third bucket of ice water while we pouring the first two and he almost made a run for it!
Other than that it's been mostly just work work work... I've had a lot of requests for pics so I will try to post some more soon. Hope you all have a great day!! --Before I forget, if you have time--check out the University of Delaware Extreme 2008 website. There have been a lot of additions. I actually was involved briefly in the "call-to-the-deep". :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

night ops...cont.

We are now being called the 'pit crew'. When one of our samplers comes on board, we have a small window of time to change out certain parts and put the last minute touches on the sampler to be deployed. The deck crew needs to have both samplers in their places well before Alvin's time to dive. I posted a few pics in the earlier post showing what goes on. When we begin it is about 4am, the sampler being recovered usually comes up by 5:45am, then the one being deployed must be over by about 6:45am. As I write this down it seems like there should be plenty of time, however, it goes fast! And, securing the samplers on deck takes a good deal of time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


quick picture of a recent sunset. They have been amazing on board, as well as, the sunrises. We have been lucky in starting the day at 3:30am (for me), get to see the moon up for a while and then the sunrise. A green flash was spotted on the sunrise two days ago. Tried to capture a quick picture, but could not get it! :)


Ok, another big side note. I just got this picture sent to me off Huxley, my puppy back at home. He is adorable! Note the Frisbee by him...JCVI, he got it from the picnic we had while I was away.
Thank you to everyone who is looking after him and visiting him while I am away. :)
I promise pictures from the ocean next!
Hi everyone!
I'm so sorry to be this delayed. We hit some weather over the last couple of days and had two dives canceled. Our last dive planned for the East Pacific Rise was today and they did launch! Unfortunately, we will not be deploying the sampler until we hit Guaymas, our next destination. Yesterday we did finish up a CTD deployment. We looked at the entire water column (which actually started the night before). We took samples at discrete depths and filtered them for bacteria and viruses. Needless to say we were all exhausted. As the last of the experiment was being finished, all of our team onboard started dropping off...hitting our bunks for some much needed R & R.
Today we are redesigning the prefiltration carboy that we use on the sampler, because our next site has a lot of large particulate matter around the area we will be placing the wand that sucks up all the water. We should have more than enough time on the 3 day transit to finish this up.
The internet is a bit slow right now, so I will update with some recent photos. I was trying to get some of the pilot whales that have been playing alongside the boat all day today.
On a side note, we had what is called the 'call to the deep' today. It is apart of the educational Extreme 2008. If you are interested, please visit the link posted earlier. It's quite cute. The kids get to ask all the questions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

apparently I have a strong flight response :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

and the aftermath

I believe I mentioned a ritual after the first are some pics (I'm still trying to get some from after Bekki's first dive...

My First Alvin Dive

Such exciting news!! I had my first Alvin dive today. It was incredible and nearly indescribable. With all the new HD devices I had to keep reminding myself that I was really inches away from what I was looking at. We hit several vents in the area, namely Bio9 and Pvent.
On the way down, around 300m we hit lots of bio-iluminescent small guys (names I will track down for you in the future).
We were able to see several larger organisms like crabs, shrimps, octopuses--most very white. I wonder what are lights do their senses? They don't seem to run an hide under rocks. Do they notice? As you can see I need to learn more about these creatures. I did get to see a large octopus on our decent just before coming to the seafloor, this was the same kind of octopus that hung out on our sampler during my last Atlantis cruise at the Guaymas site. Additionally there are the large tubeworms called Riftia pachyptila.
We successfully found, moved and started our sampler at depth near a Riftia patch. We chose a diffuse flow region, where 'shimmering' water was flowing over the tubeworms. We had a successful dive which was quite possible my most amazing scientific moment to date. The fact that we can build a piece of equipment to filter seawater at almost any depth, let it free fall from the surface, and using acoustical release retrieve it is a remarkable feat. And on top of all that, we get great samples!
On our accent, the boat pilot Mark Spear took some pictures of us inside the sub. It was fun and we all look a little tired from the excitement, work and CO2. The port side observer for our trip was Karla Heidelberg she is an Assistant Professor at USC and also still holds a position at JCVI. It was really fun having her with me on the first dive!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Alvin dive

Hi Everyone,
I get to dive tomorrow!!! So excited and really tired from a long day. I'll give a full report tomorrow night.

Today Bekki Helton went for her first time as well. We had a great time coming up with ideas for what to do when she finished. It's tradition to mess their shoes and throw ice cold water on them when the come out. We have some great pictures that I will upload tomorrow. :)

As far as our sample, it looked great! A success. We recovered the sampler, 'Thing 1" at 5:30am and deployed the other, "Thing 2" at about 6:45 am. Our filters were full, inductions completed, and even a small DNA sample was taken and showed that we had DNA!! Always a plus when doing metagenomics. Also there is a lot of excitement on board due to Karla Heidelberg bringing out an SEM (scanning electron microscope-- hope this link works), oh yes, an SEM. Who would have ever thought, it's really tiny too. We tried putting the 0.2um filter on to see bacteria, however, the resolution is not great for viewing these little guys, but you can kinda see them. Hopefully on a calm day we will get lucky. We are also going to try to look at the larger fractions for the beautiful diatoms and dinoflagellates.

I'm off for now.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First deployment

Hello Everyone,

I'm going to be brief tonight (been up since 2 am with a short nap in the afternoon). There are pictures of our sampler, the deployment and the sub launch. A synopsis of the sampler is that the panel controls the CTD pumps used to pull water through the silcone tubing, into preflitration carboy, then 3 stainless steel filter holders (one 3.0um and a why to two 0.2um) for collection of the microbial fraction (0.2um) for DNA extraction, metagenomic analyses, 16s analyses, phage inductions, microscopy, etc.

Today in the sub, our PI Eric Wommack from the University of Delaware and Craig Cary went down. They had a great trip and were able to take some amazing underwater pictures that I will send once downloaded. They spent most of their time at the vent called Bio9, which apparantly had some large structures and smokers.

So, I'm just going to attach pictures and try to describe what is going on and who is in the pictures later.

Big Hugs!

--ps Mom and Dad, check the hat! Love you :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More pictures!!


Ok, let's see how this goes. Here are some pictures from Manzanillo. When we arrived the Atlantis (ship we are sailing on) was already at the dock. Behind the dock was a very elaborate scene of statues, fountains, and tailor-made shurbs. The city was very beautiful. The people were amazing!! Accomadating, nice and interested in finding out more about who were.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hey Everyone,

So, I know I promised pictures...unfortunately I could not get it to work. I'll figure it out tomorrow.....hopefully!!

Today was much of the same as yesterday. Working on the second elevator, making new 'snaky' hose lines that we intend to push 210L of water though, and constructing other sampling devices that will eventually get attached to the elevator (picture promised) and tossed overboard. :) It is extremely hot, humid and sticky, but the water is glassy, calm, and beautiful blue.

If you have a chance, check out the latest link I sent. It should start to get really exciting once we get on site for the first dive (using the submersible Alvin), which is Wednesday.

Hope all are well...z

the real link

The link before was not correct. Below is the correct one, please let me know if you have any troubles.

So I did it, I have become one of the millions to communicate via blog.

We are just about to leave port in Manzanillo, Mexico (in the state of Colima) on the Extreme 2008 research cruise aboard R/V Atlantis from WHOI. The last two days have been filled with cruise planning and setting up the famous (or not so famous) elevators. I will explain more about these amazing sampling devices and our research goals later.

For those of you interested there is a recent write up about the cruise at:

There will also be another link posted soon where you can catch more pictures and video of what's happening out here.