North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep Ocean Habitats - NC Museum of Natural Sciences Website
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Q: What do you do down in the bubble and how big is the bubble you're in?

close-up of sub's bubbleA: The "bubble" is a 5 1/4" thick acrylic sphere. It is about 6 feet (1.8 meters) in diameter and weighs about 5000 lbs. Two people can go down in the sphere at the front of the sub and two people can go down in inside the stern compartment of  the subthe chamber behind the sphere. (We refer to this second chamber as the "stern" in the logs since it is located closer to the stern or back of the sub than the front compartment.)

Usually there is a sub crew member and a research crew member in each compartment. As a scientists sees something of interest, he or she informs the sub pilot where he/she would like to go. The sub pilot essentially drives the sub around the ocean with directions from the scientist. A backup pilot sits in the stern chamber just in case something should happen to the pilot. If something did happen, the backup pilot can bring the sub up to the surface.

view from sub at the bottom of the oceanThe main purpose of going down in a sub is to get a visual of what it looks like on the deep ocean floor. Another goal is to collect specimens for identification while gathering as much information we can. The sub can collect specimens through a vacuum tube that pulls the sample through a hose and deposits it in a bucket attached to the sub. sub deep in the ocean where it is dark!A mechanical arm can collect things like coral and sea stars.

(Follow this Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution link to see a video of the sub collecting several different samples. Just choose your preferred format from the selections 3/4ths of the way down the page.)

During the dive, there are as many as three video cameras rolling and a few still cameras to capture research images and information. The video footage and still images are helpful in identifying what we see as well as documenting the world below for the public to see.

Q: Has anyone been sea sick yet? If so, how do you deal with it? For those of you who aren't sick, what do you do to avoid it?

high seasA: Things were fairly calm the first few days and most people were feeling fine. Yesterday the seas were a little rougher and the ship was tossing all over. Some people enjoyed the ride while others struggled through.

There are all sorts of precautions and remedies for sea sickness. One person might recommend standing, and a few minutes later someone else tells you to lie down. Go up to the bridgethe bridge (where the captain sits) someone might say and then you hear go down to the berths (the sleeping quarters or bedrooms)! Drink water, don't drink water!

Medicine for seasickness is available in the form of pills and patches and these help some. sleeping quartersWristbands are also available that apply pressure to your wrist or create an electric stimulus that interferes with your brain's ability to communicate with your stomach, thereby stopping the feeling of nausea. Seven out of ten doctors simply recommend staying on land!

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