9 August 2007
Location:~40 miles from Cuba off Jordan Shoal
It took about three and a half hours to lower the nets to 900 meters and to haul them back up again. For the first time we were trawling in the deep sea. Down in the mesopelagic zone the creatures live under tremendous pressure, cold temperatures and constant darkness. I decorated some Styrofoam cups for Smithfield High School, one for my Biology classes and one for my Aquatic Science classes, and packed them up with a collection of others to take a trip to 900 meters. I retrieved the Aquatic Science class cup (sorry Biology class yours is still sitting on the bottom of the ocean) and the pressure squeezed the cup down to about the size of your big toe. It was late, the nets came up about midnight. The current was pretty fast (~3 knots) and it was exciting hauling the nets onboard and spraying them down. Some really weird stuff came up in the nets. I have some photos but let me describe just a few amazing specimens:
Huge clear amphipod parasitizing a clear husk of a tunicate gobbling out its insides (Alien...)
Cedric and Bob just tossed a drifter overboard which will send back current information for 3 months. Bob wryly remarked, "That's the price of a lap top going overboard."
It's been a great day for bird watching. An osprey with unblinking yellow eyes and an impressive curved beak and talons perched on the radar. Then Mate John announced a seabird was flying over the deck at dinner time. Overhead was an acrobatic Red-footed booby flying and diving for flying fish. Earlier a cattle egret rested onboard. However, not a ship in sight.