I. DAY FOUR: Wednesday, June 23, 2004
We arrived on the mud out site this morning at approximately 7:30 AM. I don't think that I explained the difference between the mud in and the mud out sites before. Basically a mud out is outside the fishing sanctuary and mud in is inside the fishing sanctuary. We immediately sited up (hardhats, raingear, life vests, boots) and prepared to drop the grab. The crane operator was unable to determine if the grab was on the bottom. The first drop was not completely successful; the box was only half full of the samples. Betsy decided to keep the sample, just in case the weather became rough and we weren't able to try again. I took a surface sample of the specimen and sealed it into a small bottle. The rest of the sample went into a five gallon bucket for sorting later. We sprayed down the grab and prepared for the next attempt. The next grab the equipment was swinging quite a lot, we were afraid it might hit the side of the ship and activate the trigger. Luckily this did not happen and it did make it all the way to the ocean floor (about 30 meters). We secured the grab to its cradle but accidentally the crane operator pulled up on the cable causing both of us to back away from the grab to avoid an accident. The operator was able to return the grab to the cradle without incident and save the sample. The grab basket was almost completely full at this time. I took the samples as before, we dumped the remainder into the bucket, sprayed down the grab and continued with our next sample. The next grab was completely successful, no incidents. Betsy determined that sample one should be dumped back into the ocean and we should try for a sample closer to the quantity of the last two. We did this without incident. We cleared the deck of our equipment and proceeded to take samples from the mud. The process used to do this is time consuming and delicate work. Using a salt-water hose we took a handful of mud at a time and placed it on a 300 microns sieve carefully rinsing the mud away from the animals. You have to be very careful when using the sieve not to lose samples by using too much water pressure and pushing them out over the side of the sieve. Mostly there were worms, lots of worms, all different sizes and colors. There are a few small arthropods, sea stars and sea cucumbers. Forceps are used to remove the smallest animals as they get caught in the sieve even though the weave is so tight. We do one bucket at a time and as we finish we place fall the animals into a specimen jar. We returned all of sample 1 back to the sea. It is important that all samples that are used are close to the same quantity. At this time we were both covered in mud and so was the deck. We sprayed down the deck and the equipment and enter the wet lab. Betsy added the formaldehyde to the specimens made sure they were labeled and stored them. We called it a night.
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