Friday, October 16, 2009

Riddle me this…


Optical illusion. Believe it or not, this is a picture of the CTD package already beneath the ocean surface – that’s how calm it was earlier today. Don’t believe me? Look close and you can see a “kink” in the wire where it cuts the ocean surface.

What’s BIG, cute, yellow, and currently >4000m under water?
Position at 18h00 EST (Nereus Dive 18)
Lat: 18° 22’N Long: 081° 42’W
Water depth: 4350m

Q: What’s yellow, cute, and rarely found out in the middle of the deep ocean?
A: A stowaway! I was up early this morning and Carla and I found we had a visitor as we were waiting to watch the sun come up. We think it’s a warbler but hope there might be an ornithologist out there can tell us what kind. Answers on a postcard to…. Oh no, that won’t work. Anyway, surprisingly enough, this isn’t the kind of bird you find in a book of marine life! Presumably swept here by one of the series of squalls that seem to be passing by with increasing frequency (a bit ominous!).

Anyway, after breakfast it was back to CTD stations again. Sorry if that’s getting a bit repetitive but think how it feels for us – 12 hours a day making sure that most of the ocean out here DOESN'T have a hydrothermal plume signal in it!!! Did I mention yet (the team out here are sick of hearing it) that I once did 176 stations in a row on a single cruise and didn’t see a plume for the first 150??? Now that really was quite dull. Happily we wouldn’t have time to do that many out here if we tried ;)

But getting back to the main order of the day. There’s something else out here that is also yellow and quite cute. (Which could well be a sign that I’ve already been at sea too long). Can you guess what it is yet? Correct: Nereus in full racing trim.

Today saw the launch of our first dive in pursuit of a hydrothermal target that is programmed to last well into Saturday afternoon. During that time, Nereus will survey more than 20 miles over the deep ocean floor undulating through the water column to collect data equivalent to more than 20 CTD casts and, hence, doubling our total data-set in a single day. Don’t know about cute, but you have to agree that’s quite ambitious. No doubt you’ll be hearing all about it here, soon, once the mission is complete. Just can’t wait to get back to more CTD stations after that. Hmmm….


  1. I didn't believe you! But now I do. :)

  2. Perhaps you have already identified your stowaway, but just in case, you have yourself a hooded warbler. Even the forest birds appreciate oceanographic research.