VERTIGO is a go!
These are the words we’ve been longing to say as we
worked for over two years to reach this point of departure
out of Honolulu on the R/V Kilo Moana with 27 scientists
and almost as many crew members on board.
Needles in a haystack
In the early morning hours several scientists and crew members
gather on the upper deck, peering out into the sea, still
dark. They’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
Surprises in the phytoplankton
One of our most surprising discoveries was the finding of clumps
or “aggregates” of relatively large floating algae
(phytoplankton) in this amazingly blue and otherwise clear oceanic
From the VERTIGO air-traffic control…
The primary goal of VERTIGO is to measure and understand the
controls on sinking particles as they enter the twilight zone
from the well-lit, surface ocean.
Like a glazed doughnut…
Things just happen at sea. Rob Condon, a graduate student with
Debbie Steinberg's group, has been saying all week that "it's
The Mochness Monster Lives
One of the many tools used on board the R/V Kilo Moana
during this cruise is the MOCNESS zooplankton net. MOCNESS
stands for Multiple Opening and Closing Net Environmental
Crushing cups - A simple lesson in hydrostatic pressure
Water is much heavier than air (actually about 1000 times
heavier). This is a simple fact we all take for granted. It
is obviously true; if it weren't rain would fall up and the
ocean would be the atmosphere (but this is a silly digression).
Caught in a viscous goo
Caught in a viscous goo, unable to swim out, ahhhhrrgh - these
small animals swam into our traps and were caught along with
sinking detritus in a clear "gel" we put in some traps.
European team looks for warmer waters
What is a University of Brussels, Belgium research team that
is usually involved with studies of the ocean carbon cycle
in the Southern Ocean looking for in the warmer waters off
Open ocean jellies: alien ocean drifters
Typically, when we think about gelatinous animals we think
of jellyfish, like the sea nettle, which sting sea bathers
or clog fishing nets. Yet these organisms, collectively known
as 'gelatinous zooplankton', can play an important role in
many ecosystems including the open ocean.
Catching rain in a hurricane
A basic problem that VERTIGO sets out to study, is how fast do particles in the ocean sink from the surface where they are produced, to the deep ocean, and how many break apart or are consumed by animals and bacteria along the way.
Studying iron on a rusty ship
Here's a problem for you. How do you collect and study water from the ocean for iron, when you are surrounded by rust?
Now that the "MOCNESS" plankton net samples are on board,
Stephanie Wilson and colleagues are hard at work using microscopes
to identify the tiny marine organisms caught at different
depths in the ocean.
Mocness captures giant squid
Never has and event caused so much stir amongst the scientific
community so fast, as a giant squid being captured alive for
the first time ever on the R/V Kilo Moana.
Disappearances can be deceptive
Phytoplankton don't expect much from life except to chilli out, fix some carbon dioxide and grow as much as conditions will allow - and fortunately for us mere mortals, liberate an important ingredient for our well being, oxygen.
Hawaiian bacteria experience polar conditions...
There are over a billion bacteria in every gallon of seawater
at the VERTIGO sight, and these organisms play an important
role in regulating the quantity of particles that are caught
in sediment traps.
What is the Café Thorium?
If you've been following our VERTIGO cruise from the home
page of the Café Thorium, you might be asking yourself, what
does a Café have to do with ocean science? and what the heck
is thorium? and what does all of this have to do with VERTIGO,
our study of the sources and sinking rates of marine particles,
and this cruise off Hawaii?
Determining Sinking Particle Collection Funnels
The sinking flux of particles in the ocean has many similarities
and many important differences compared with the raining of
raindrops in atmosphere.
It's the Law, the Power Law, but why?
The flux of sinking particles, i.e. the mass sinking through a square meter each day, decreases as you go deeper into the sea, and in many regions this decrease is well described by a Power Law.
VERTIGO is heading home
All thoughts are moving on shore as we steam in to Honolulu
on this final day of our research cruise here on the R/V Kilo