Yesterday afternoon we dropped the mesh bags with experiments from Ms. Steinman’s Ocean Engineering class. The experimental material contained Styrofoam cups, paper cups, 2-liter plastic soda bottles with paper inside, and two Pelican brand, water-tight containers. Both mesh bags were attached to the CTD (see previous post) and went down to 1,383 meters! Yes, meters, not feet. It took a full hour to drop the CTD and return it to the surface. I’ll try to embed a video here to show the return of the CTD to the vessel. The results are interesting, but I’ll wait to report on that until the Ocean Engineering students can see and interpret the evidence. I will include a photo of the cups and, if wifi is good, I’ll include a short video of the CTD coming up to the ship.
Cups attached to the CTD with my hand for scale.
Martha, the teacher from Bandon High School, calculated that at a depth of 1,383 meters, the pressure is 1,400 decibars, which converts 138.2 atmospheres and 2,031.589 PSI (pounds per square inch). Just for comparison, we live at sea level which has an atmospheric pressure of 1.0. Wow! And how cool that scientists really use dimensional analysis, like Martha did. OK, so here’s a picture of the cups after they came up – unfortunately I didn’t stick my hand in the picture, so it might be hard to see the difference.
After being submerged to 1,383 m the styrofoam cups are much smaller, but the paper cups are not.
Above is a short video of the CTD being raised to the boat. The poles extending out to clip ropes on are being managed by two of the high school students. The white blobs at the top of the CTD are the paper and styrofoam cups.
Also this afternoon I saw three life species of birds – this means I saw them for the first time in my life. Birders often keep life lists; I’m too lazy to do this, but I do get pretty excited when I see a new species. The first is the Black-footed albatross – I’ve seen about 20 of them, total. While waiting for the CTD to come up, Jane and I birded on the fly deck and she pointed out a single Long-tailed jaeger. Finally, during my observation shift this evening we saw several Cassin’s auklet – a tiny, cute little bird that nests in burrows. This is a great adaptation, because the holes are small and it’s difficult for predators to pass through. I’m hoping to see Storm petrels tonight – Matthew told me about a recent discovery with these diminutive predators – apparently they can leave eggs on the nest for long periods of time, with little to no incubation. It’s thought that this is an evolutionary adaptation to the birds being blown out to sea (while foraging for food) during a storm. They are so small that it can take a long time to be able to get back to the nest, so the chicks don’t die, but their growth stops until a parent can get back to the nest.