We’re speeding through stations at breakneck speed (successfully, of course), exceeding all initial expectations. It’s only Tuesday, and we’re already at station 4 (counting down from 14). This is a deep station, and it takes ages to send the CTD to 2900 meters. We typically do three casts at each deep station: one each deep and shallow casts that collect water on the way up (shared by many scientists), and one deep cast exclusively for Kim Null. She’s analyzing radium at vanishingly low concentrations, so she needs extra water from the bottom (100 L or more!). Each deep cast takes about 2-3 hours round-trip, leaving plenty of time for other activities such as writing scientific papers, discussing future research proposals, or working through old data.
Or, more likely, we find mildly amusing diversions to fend off the mind-numbing experience of watching a 2900 m salinity profile appear on the monitor at a rate of 60 meters per minute. The commonest such activity at deep stations is decorating styrofoam objects (cups, mannequin heads, spectrophotometer cuvette boxes, etc.) to send down with the next cast. The extreme pressure at the seafloor compresses the styrofoam into comically reduced and misshapen forms. The result is always approximately the same, but for some reason we’re unfailingly excited about it. Scientists are easily entertained.
Yuehan Lu (L) and Chandranath Basak (R) prepare their cups for the descent. Note the focus, pride, and perhaps not evident in this picture, the permeating sense of exultant anticipation.
(Photo: A. Beck)
We also get excited when large sea creatures appear at the ocean surface and enliven the unchanging blue-green panorama. The shark below followed the CTD to the surface, made a few inspection loops around Wecoma, and disappeared.
There’s biology in them waters!
(Photo: L. Koren)
We’ll report soon on the status of our styrofoam deep-sea divers. The CTD is at the surface, and we’re too excited to keep blogging now.