Two days have passed since setting sail on the R/V Sally Ride out of Newport Oregon. I slept through the ship’s departure in the early hours of Tuesday, the third of July, and spent much of the first day adjusting to the world in motion through a Dramamine-induced haze. I am excited to finally have an opportunity to put into motion the camera system that I have been preparing for the last two weeks!
The activities of the ship and science crew can be divided roughly into those which require the ship to be moving and those that need the ship to be still. The main activities which require the ship to be moving forward are the deployment of the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) and sampling by use of a coupled MOCNESS net system. The ISIIS looks something like a child’s rendition of a fighter jet, with torpedo shaped floats and adjustable ‘wings’ that control the position of the system in the water and allows us to take a continuous slice of images for the purpose of observing plankton. The MOCNESS net system is essentially a series of enormous plankton nets attached to a large metal frame, which we can remotely open or close in order to take samples of organisms at specific depths. Much of my work on the ship will consist of sorting through different taxa of organisms obtained via this system by physically picking through them. The samples will be processed later to determine what they have been eating. Counting the pyrosomes that get caught in the MOCNESS nets may prove to be the easiest or a very difficult part of this process depending on how many we come across, which has been surprisingly few so far. Unfortunately, we have been plagued by equipment failures since initially successful testing and so haven’t done much of picking and sorting just yet.
Those activities which require the ship to be still include sampling by use of a comparatively small plankton net which is lowered vertically over the side of the ship and collecting data though a CTD sensor array that carries the stereo camera system. So far, we have done one CTD cast and the footage from taken with the camera system looks good! Some small adjustments to the angle of lights and timing to start equipment were necessary, but some adjustment was expected. I can look forward to a long period of sorting through footage after completion of this cruise.
I find myself consistently astonished at the many comforts that the R/V Sally Ride has provided so far. Everything from high quality of the food to the wideness of the passageways seems to me like a special treat when compared to the cramped conditions of a Naval vessel. Both the science crew and ship’s crew are dedicated, open people who clearly love their work and will talk you about it at length when not asking to hear about your own. The going has been slow for many of the scientists aboard due to the equipment failures but, where an excess of unstructured time has appeared, I find nobody spending their time unwisely. I can say both about the crew of the research vessel, and about the population of interns and researchers back at the OIMB: it is a pleasure to work with so many motivated and enthusiastic people.
Hello there! My name is Matthew Gimpelevich and I am currently an undergraduate student in my third year of oceanography and engineering at Seattle Central College in Seattle, Washington. I’m lucky enough to be working in the Sutherland lab at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology where I get to formulate my own methods of studying the pyrosome, Pyrosoma atlanticum, which has recently migrated up the Pacific coast from warmer waters! As an REU intern, I look forward to developing research techniques and methods of organizing and maintaining my own projects!