DAY 19 – Flicking gold

For a lander that didn’t even exist 4 days ago, Frank Trappa is amazing.  It even recovered a fish from 4700m today – two ophidiids.  It of course also recovered lots of amazing amphipod specimens.  The landers worked well too so we are making good progress again.

 

The problem is the extend of this deep ophidiid-pennaeid community.  We need to know how far it extends bathymetrically and so far every site has been much of the same.  So, with a tear in my eye we set course for a rather pathetic 2000m site.

 

The 2000m site is however very close to one of the Loyalty islands and it was good to cast our optical balls on land again.  The topography at this depth is insane.  The seafloor is so volcanic we spent 4 hours searching for a flat enough spot to deploy on.  After another blistering hot day and a complete lack of breeze, we shot everything down to 2000m.

 

A pesky natantian decapod from 4800m tickles our bait.

A pesky natantian decapod from 4800m tickles our bait.

Then everything started going wrong again.  Mrs Rodiers -80 freezer decided to have an episode.  After turning Noumea upsides down for this freezer and liquid nitrogen, we are slowing descending back to square one.  It appears it over heated in what so far has been the hottest day.  Heather et al then had to quickly transfer all their -80 samples in the last remaining liquid nitrogen dewer, which means that it is now full and we haven’t finished sampling yet.  This means that to preserve samples from depths we have done yet, we are going to have to sacrifice samples from other depths that we have more from.  They won’t be destroyed as such, but transferred to the -20 but for some analysis it is the equivalent for flicking gold into the tide.  Any scientist reading this will know how heartbreaking it is to be forced into jettisoning samples that span a 5000m depth range across the abyssal-hadal transition zone.  We’ll just have to wait until the freezer has cooled down to see what can be salvaged – you just can’t make this stuff up, but what else can we do at the end of the earth?

 

Alan – 23rd November

One of the deep cusk eels recovered using Frank Trappa.

One of the deep cusk eels recovered using Frank Trappa.

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