8 Aug 2012
CCE LTER Cruise: Day 12, Team Oozkeki
Written by Dana Lebental, Teacher at Sea
August 8- Day 12
Once upon a time, (okay August 7, 2012), there was a group of volunteers hanging out on a boat, not really a boat, a ship, not just any ship, a research vessel.
This group of strong, intelligent, strapping young volunteers were about to deploy the “Big O”.
Although they knew they were working on Team Oozeki, they had no idea what to expect. Or what they would find.
This not so itty bitty net (30 ft, the length of a small sailboat) is towed slowly behind the ship at a depth of 1500ft.
Dr. Tony Koslow and Dr. Pete Davison, two scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, are interested in the types of fish that live deep in the water. They refer to this zone of water as the mesopelagic zone.
Now animals that live in this zone are not the animals you see in an aquarium. Aquariums and scientists both struggle to capture these animals alive, let alone in a condition that could keep them alive in a tank.
These animals have had to adapt to their harsh environment. One that lacks light and has a minimum amount of oxygen. The animals that live in this environment are amazing!
No its NOT a water balloon! Its a Balloon Squid, a type of cephalopod that has 8 arms, 2 eyes and fits in the palm of your hand.
Everyone keeps saying we are having a “salpy” month. I had no idea what they were talking about. Now I do. This very rare Salp (the one I am holding) feeds and moves at the same time by pumping water through its body. Salps are very common in the Pacific Ocean, but this specific species (Thetys vagina) isn’t.
Lantern fish are known for their ability to produce light on their body, some also have two little “headlights” on top of their noses.
The Vampire Squid, like the Balloon Squid, also has 8 arms. And, like the Lantern Fish it can generate light at the end of his arms. The Vampire Squid has been known to scare off predators by lifting its arms towards the predator and lighting up only the tips of his arms while waving them. It might look like its casting a spell, when really it is trying to save his own life!
So just remember as you sail the deep ocean sea, there is plenty of life yet to be…. The ship is a mighty fine place to be, as long as you always keep one eye on the sea….