North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep Ocean Habitats - NC Museum of Natural Sciences Website
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2005 Questions & Answers

10/25/05

Brooke, a tenth grader from Carteret county, asks, What is it like living on a boat for so many days?
Living on a boat takes on its own rhythm. The meals are the best indicators of time. Breakfast is always 6:30-7:30 am, lunch is 11:30-12:30 and dinner is 5:30-6:30 pm. The meals are delicious and quite varied—steak and cheese subs, duck with mango salsa, eggs and hash browns. We are all amazed at how the cook can keep everything fresh for so long. We usually have fresh fruit every morning and tossed salad every evening. We always know when it is time to eat again.

The science schedule also has its own routine. The sub is supposed to launch at 8 am and 4 pm, but this schedule is weather dependent. When the sub is not down, we are either pulling nets, nightlighting, or doing sonar scans. The day watch works 6 am until 6 pm and the night watch does the opposite shift. Of course, both groups really work until the job is finished.

Living and working at sea also has its special challenges. Simply walking around on a rocking ship can be challenging enough, much less deploying nets or trying to type on the computer! Shorts and t-shirts, plus boots, hard hats, and lifejackets are standard work clothes. All the cabinets and doors have latches to keep them from swinging open, and all the computers, cameras, and gear are bungee-corded into place to keep them secure when seas are rough. It gets to be second nature to latch the refrigerator, or put a bungee on a camera when you are finished with it.

There are many challenges to living at sea, but we enjoy working out here and know that the knowledge we gain is important to science and understanding the ocean.

Alex, a college student from NC State, would like more information about the larval eels you caught. How clear are they? Can you distinguish different organs, or just the general shape, length, etc.?
Live eel larvae are completely clear and the only organ visible by the human eye is the larva's eye. When you view an eel larvae under the microscope, you can see their muscle fibers, known as myomeres, liver, kidney, intestinal tract, and brain. Eel larvae are differentiated from one another by the number of myomeres they have, the length and shape of the intestinal tract, and whether or not they have pigments.

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