06/19/04 - Bioluminescence & sponges
|Lat:||30° 12.5 min N|
|Long:||79° 38.7 min W|
Photo courtesy of NOAA
We arrived at our dive site off the northern coast of Florida this morning just in time to put the sub down. We had moved south during the night and everyone noticed a dramatic increase in the humidity. Now, every time we walk outside from the air conditioned dry lab, our sunglasses, camera lenses, and binoculars fog up. We have discovered a trick to solve this problem: we place our cold equipment near the engine room door where hot air blasts out. The hot air brings our equipment up to the ambient temperature, the moisture evaporates, and we are ready to go.
Photo courtesy of NOAA
Katie Cartwright, Educator at Sea, went on her second dive this morning. She sat in the stern with Martha Nizinski in the bow. They visited a flat area covered with sponges and small corals, and completed several video transects. When you conduct a transect, you move slowly on a straight course just off the bottom, and record everything you see as you pass by. They also collected several glass sponges, a sediment sample, a feather-like coral, and a small crab. The sub's battery ran down faster than expected, so they had to turn off several of the rear lights, giving Katie a great opportunity to observe the greenish-blue bioluminescence some marine life emit. Many different animals produce the marvelous glow including comb jellies, plankton, siphonophores, fish, and salps. It is quite difficult to tell which animals are producing the glow, but it is quite an amazing show to watch from inside the sub.
The sub crew ran a training dive in the afternoon, in which one of the new pilots sat in the front sphere with a more experienced pilot. Jeremy Potter, from NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration, rode in the stern. The scientists requested the team collect some living Lophelia coral and they returned with several samples. In addition, they collected a large Chaceon crab and several glass sponges. The structure of the sponges is quite beautiful. The holes in the sponges look like honeycombs when you examine them closely. The sponges have many shapes and today's collection included one shaped like a tulip, one that looked like fingers, and another that resembled vases made out of fine fiber. The team also brought back a different kind of sponge that was approximately 2 feet (0.6 m) tall and shaped like a cone. When we peered down inside it there were small white spheres that looked like eggs. We can't wait until we get back to the lab and can figure out what the spheres are.
We continue to head south, trying to get the most out of the last few days at sea.
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