Life on the Shallow Profiler Moorings

Friday, July 28, 2017
Life on a Syntactic Foam Island

The students are a gift to the team, full of energy, enthusiastic and very inquisitive.

Learning to Sample the CTD

Katie Gonzalez and Willem Weertman take water samples from the first CTD cast on the VISIONS17, OOI-NSF cruise. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington.

Watching the First Jason Launch

Alex Andronikides (Queens College, New York) and Willem Weertman (UW Oceanography) watch the first launch of Jason on the UW-NSF-OOI VISIONS'17 cruise. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington.

Today was a beautiful, blue-skied sunny day with calm seas. We continued to work at the Oregon Offshore Site on the Shallow Profiler Mooring today. Last night and until early afternoon the Jason team worked to make adjustments to a latching mechanism that the vehicle uses to take our heavy platforms such as junction boxes down to the seafloor, mooring components, and to recover the platforms.

During the vehicle down time, the UW team worked on the numerous tasks that are required for a successful cruise – testing and preparing of instruments for follow-on dives (we are always looking a few to several days ahead), completing documentation of yesterdays work, and talking through dive plans for follow-on sites. Some folks used the down time to catch up on some much-needed sleep (including the Chief Scientist) as the UW team has been working full steam in preparation for the cruise. The mobilization involved long, hard days getting everything on the ship, and yesterday was an intense day with only a 3-hour transit before Jason dives started.

The students are a gift to the team, full of energy, enthusiastic and very inquisitive. It was great to see their wide-eyed wonder as Jason latched into the platform assemblies on the moorings and recovered them. Of special note was their awe and excitement inside the dark ROV control van as they got their first views of the mooring platforms and the life that thrives on them. Installed in 2014, these 12- foot across, 7 ton platforms at 200 m beneath the oceans’ surface have become biological experiments to examine the succession of life that has colonized the moorings. Huge anemones, small crabs, shrimp, limpets, and sea urchins thrive on the surfaces of the syntactic foam platform, as well as limpets. Tonight swarms of small fish engulfed the mooring as the ROV was working. They also got to witness and participate in their first CTD operations, including learning to sample the recovered fluids, which will be analyzed on the ship and onshore to verify some of the cabled instruments on the moorings.