Only two weeks into the summer, and already time is beginning to fly. The previous week’s effort provided me with the necessary tools to take video analysis into my own hands while attempting to lift the veil on the mysterious life and habits of Pyrosoma atlanticum, and now begins the final days of preparation for the upcoming research cruise. My remaining responsibilities in preparing for the ten-day cruise mainly revolve around developing a method to fix the new stereo camera system to the outer cage of the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) sensor which will be lowered into the water repeatedly over the course of the cruise, and to learn the necessary steps in preparing future footage for effective analysis.
To understand the basic concept of the dual camera setup you must look no farther than to your own eyeballs. The two cameras will look outward, tilted very slightly toward each other to allow their fields of view (FOVs) to cross over and cause images at a specific distances to perfectly overlap when footage from the two cameras is compared; thus allowing a computer program to determine the distances between objects in a similar way that your brain does when you are trying to throw a ball or judge the distance of an oncoming car. If all goes well, then any footage we take in the next two weeks will be ready for synchronization and subject to the scrutiny of the computer program. If all doesn’t go well, then we will simply have twice the useful footage which will be analyzed by good old-fashioned human counting and comparison!
I’m willing to bet that many of you readers are getting pretty curious about this cruise that I keep going on about, so let me fill you in! This is actually the second of a four-part series of cruises being put into action by the National Science Foundation (NSF), following a proposal to observe mesozooplankton (which include species approximately 0.2 to 20 mm in length such as small jellies and fish larvae) in the Northern California Current. The first cruise occurred in winter, 2018 and just happened to provide an avenue for the Sutherland Lab to observe the little-studied Pyrosoma atlanticum that had been quickly making themselves comfortable in northern waters. To help demystify the life of a researcher, I will let you in on a small secret: research can be expensive! It isn’t cheap to run a 238-foot (in the case of the R/V Sally Ride) research vessel up and down the pacific coast and so as many tests and observations as possible are squeezed into a venture wherever the opportunity is presented. In the case of pyrosome observation, a lot of good information was gleaned by simply attaching a water proof camera and light to the cage of a CTD which was going to be lowered into the water anyway. This technique turned out to be pretty effective, so we are doubling down by trying out the stereo camera system which may provide us with even more information than the first recordings.
The days that remain promise to be packed as the lab hurries to finish preparations for a busy voyage of pyrosome pilfering and observation that will bring us south, halfway down the length of California and back before we’re though. Keeping pace has been a challenge and will surely remain that way for the final months of summer, but it’s a challenge that keeps me intrigued and involved throughout.
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!