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Journals 2007/2008

Morgan Hardwick-Witman
Smithfield High School, Smithfield, Rhode Island

"Linkages between larvae and recruitment of coral reef fishes along the Florida Keys shelf: an integrated field and modeling analysis of population connectivity in a complex system."
R/V. F.G. Walton Smith
29 July - 14 August 2007
Journal Index:
July 29, 30 - 31
August 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9
           10 - 11 - 12 - 13

Additional Resources

9 August 2007
"Deep Sea Excitement"

Location:~40 miles from Cuba off Jordan Shoal
Lat: 23° 44.868' N
Long: 83° 28.624' W

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...)
Long viper fish with tiny teeth
Slippery eel like fish with photophores (light spots that weren't lit)
Brilliant red shrimp with sharp red spines
Clear bumpy tunicate that resembled a melting ice cube
Tiny silvery hatchet fish
Deep red helmet jellyfish with threadlike tentacles
Tiny thin metallic purple fish
And lots of small fish in the genus Cyclothone called gonostomatids which are one of the most abundant vertebrates on the planet (Early Stages of Atlantic Fishes Vol. 1 Ed. Wm. J. Richards p. 183). We didn't process the samples, as they were deteriorating quickly in the warm conditions, but simply enjoyed looking at their bizarre adaptations. Chief Scientist Bob said that not many deep sea fish have swim bladders so they didn't explode on the trip up. But those that did would. When we were over the deep water, I tossed my old sneakers overboard. If they fell directly to the bottom at about .5m/second how long do you think it would take them to reach 2000 meters?

A diverse display of some of the amazing creatures from the deep sea trawl
Chief Scientist Bob Cowen is pointing out some interesting specimens to undergraduate Carie Bikson.
Zoe Van Scayndel is photographing some of the deep sea fish that Dr. Bob Cowen and Carie Bikson are examining.
A brilliant red euphausid shrimp with sharp spines from the deep sea. View full version pop-up.

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."

Cedric Guigand, Bob Cowen and Dennis Ilias deploying the current drifter off the stern. View full version pop-up.

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.