8 Aug 2012

CCE LTER Cruise: Day 12, Team Oozkeki

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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.

Oozek iCrew

The “Crew” preparing for the Oozeki….

This group of strong, intelligent, strapping young volunteers were about to deploy the “Big O”.

Oozeki Team.1

Oozeki Team

Although they knew they were working on Team Oozeki, they had no idea what to expect. Or what they would find.

Oozeki Net

Designed to gather fish from 1500 ft below the sea…

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!

Balloon Squid.1

Balloon Squid

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.


Me holding a salp

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

5 Little Lantern Fish ready to go…

Lantern fish are known for their ability to produce light on their body, some also have two little “headlights” on top of their noses.

Vampire Squid

Vampire Squid

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….

Vampire Squid Eye

You never know who or what is watching you!



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4 Responses to “CCE LTER Cruise: Day 12, Team Oozkeki”

  1. Wow, those are some really AMAZING creatures. I especially like the Balloon Squid. Are these animals kept living or is that not a possibility due to the lack of pressure in tanks above ground?


    Amber Pitts

  2. Ahoy Amber!
    It depends on the animal. Some of the animals are being kept alive, one of the graduate students on the ship is looking at reproduction rates of specific animals, such as copepods. Other animals, such as the balloon squid were preserved for further investigation on land.
    Let me know if you have other questions!
    –Dana 🙂



  3. We saw lots of salps out at Catalina in May in June. Not so many in July. Would be neat to see if there is a pattern. Thanks for sharing amazing images


    Linda Chilton

  4. Ahoy Linda,
    I was just outside watching the processing of the animals in the MOCNESS, and there so many salps today. We were talking to a few of the scientists and they were saying that there were a lot of salps throughout the California current this year late spring. Researchers are currently looking at what kind of salps they were, so they can see if it was an outbreak of local salps or a lot was washed in from other places. So it sounds like there should be some interesting papers to come on this topic….
    –Dana 🙂