Sunday, May 31, 2009

Still alive...

Turns out that life on a science vessel in the middle of the South
Pacific is both 1) incredibly, jaw-droppingly busy and 2) without
satisfactory internet. Thus I've not had much time in the last few
weeks to blog here. Fortunately this, rather than some horrible
accident involving a winch, explains the absence.

The good thing about the delay is that I can report exciting
scientific progress, because we've had two weeks to fix all the crap
that went wrong at the beginning. We seem to have demonstrated a
fascinating new sulfur metabolic pathway in two of our three study
organisms, and have just replicated that experiement to confirm
results. ISMASH (the underwater blender) definitely had some problems
out of the box, but the day before yesterday (it could have been two
days, hard to keep track) we had our first successful in-situ snail
homogenization. What a relief. The snails and mussels seem happy in
their 3000-psi stainless steel aquaria, at least when we don't
accidentally flush them with phosphoric acid or turn off their oxygen.

In other news, by which I mean things that happened in the dozen or so
cumulative hours that I've been out here and NOT sleeping or working,
I've seen squid, an eel-fish, mahi-mahi, a baby humpback whale
(fifteen feet away, off the port fantail), and an incredible lightning
storm. Of note, all of these cool things seem to happen at night, so I
have no decent pictures for you.

In general, I'm actually really enjoying life at sea. (Please remind
me of this when I'm still here a month from now.) The food started out
great and is still holding on to a solid 'satisfactory,' the work is
exciting, people are nice, and diving with Jason (the ROV) is

For your edification, I've attached a picture from the Mariner vent
site. You can see a big smoker chimney and some vent effluent coming
in from the left side. On the right is Jason's starboard manipulator,
and at the bottom is part of the 'basket' of scientific apparatus.
ISMASH is the round thing at the bottom, dead center.

That's all for now -- more soon!


Laurel said...

Love the photo - WOW! Glad to hear you are having success with your experiments.

Jeremy said...

Hey Jon. Glad I found this. I added it to my RSS reader and will try to stay posted. After all, I know that, someday, you will post about talking to dolphins.