By Kelsey Archer Barnhill
Yesterday was our first full day at sea for Leg 1 of the iMirabilis2 expedition. After dinner on the first night many of us on board gathered on the deck to watch as schools of flying fish leapt out of the water in the darkness, with some bioluminescence glowing in the ship’s wake. After watching the fish, everyone settled into their cabins for the night and tried to find the most secure sleeping position to prevent rolling around in their beds with the waves.
We are currently in transit to Cabo Verde, which gives us some time to prepare for the upcoming operations. All the equipment is being tested, lab areas are being set up, and everyone is busy organising themselves. In the morning, the benthic landers team from Heriot-Watt University took advantage of an unfortunate flying fish that flew its way onto the back deck and took an opportunistic sample for isotope analysis. One of the lander team members, Alyica Smith, showed me how she prepared solution for winkler titrations – a test to measure dissolved oxygen (DO) in seawater. The respirometer on the benthic lander has optodes to measure DO in situ, but the titrations are used to cross reference values. Alycia’s team-mate Daniëlle De Jonge was also working to ensure optimal DO measurements as she spent the day calibrating the oxygen optodes.
After learning from the landers team, I checked in with the group working on Autosub6000. I got to see the AUV without its protective casing for the first time as Susan Evans (NOC) was able to confirm her eDNA sampler, RoCSI, had survived the transport to the vessel. I also joined Eoin Ó’Hobáin as he taught Stewart Fairbairn how to create a mission script for a sidescan sonar test. It was interesting to look at the script which runs the AUV.
Murray Roberts, Bea Vinha, and I helped out Andrea Gori with setting up his cold-water coral experimental tanks in a temperature controlled room. First we unloaded boxes from the deck, using a clever elevator on the ship I hadn’t noticed before. As a bit of water had gotten into one of the metal boxes, the filtration material had started to oxidize. Bea and I sorted out the filtration stones and brought the clean ones down to the lab for Andrea. Next, Andrea, Murray and I tested out the aquaria system. The first time we turned on the pumps to get the water flowing through the system there was a leak in the filtration portion caused by a break in the o-ring sealing the contraption. After switching out the lid the system ran leak-free! The next step was to get the temperature in the room and tanks down to the desired temperature and make sure the tank is secured on the lab bench even in a storm. Today the priority in the cold room is to calibrate the flumes in the experimental tanks where the corals will be placed for the feeding experiments – we used coffee grounds to monitor the flow (see video below).
Before dinner, we were treated to two talks, one by Murray and one by our expedition leader, Cova Orejas. Murray shared the background of iAtlantic with us – it was interesting to hear the whole story of how the project came about. Next Cova gave the official cruise kick-off talk discussing the overview of iMirabilis2 Leg 1. She gave the talk in English and Spanish which was a nice touch as members of the crew had joined in to listen.
In between the day’s activities, I was running around the ship trying to find everyone on board to get a three-second video of each person smiling to camera on the back deck. I also asked people which languages they spoke and had them speak the phrase ‘Deep-sea science is a team sport’ for our latest outreach video (see below).
There will be more science talks today as we make our way closer to our destination! our
Deep-sea science is a team sport!
Video by Kelsey Archer Barnhill / iAtlantic Project-UEDIN / iMirabilis2