Friday, November 14, 2008

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!

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