29-30 July 2007
Location: Straits of Florida
Landed in Miami in a thunderstorm last night and flagged a Haitian cab driver to take me to the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS pronounced Razmus). Mate John welcomed me aboard and gave me a tour of the R/V Walton Smith. I unpacked my stuff - wet from waiting on the tarmac. It's a commodious 96' vessel, a stable catamaran well suited to the research agenda for this cruise.
Principal Investigator Bob Cowen and Research Associate Cedric Guigand modified and designed an innovative plankton sampling device the MOCNESS to both simultaneously sample ichthyoplankton and nanoplankton and also collect samples sequentially at different depths. It is just amazing to see this in action. MOCNESS stands for Multiple Opening Closing Net & Environmental Sampling System. We successfully completed 10 stations today, first deploying the CTD tower of 12 water sampling bottles (measuring ocean conductivity, temperature and density) and then deploying the massive MOCNESS plankton net - a sampling array that fills the stern deck.
At the first station, the plankton net flipped ripping the mesh so it needed to be replaced and redeployed. An unfortunate mishap, but that's what happens in research. It's important to deal with problems as they arise and then move on. Several neat fish larvae were photographed, ex. Atlantic football fish and Hornet fish. Midday, I saw a few terns and shearwaters working the water surface. Late in the day, we briefly saw a bottlenose dolphin bow ride and swim off. It is wonderful being back at sea again. There are 15 people on board this vessel and they are a friendly, funny and hard working crew. We will learn more about them...