After spending most of the winter in the office settling into my new job, I was looking forward to getting out to sea for some fieldwork and it didn't disappoint.
The first part of the trip was spent at the stunningly beautiful Friday Harbor Laboratory on San Juan Island, Washington State, U.S.A. While there, we assembled our experimental lander vehicles and tested them for deployment. These are large frames with instruments and and experimental packages attached that we send down into the deep sea to collect animals. In this case we were sending down packages of whale bone and wood to study animals that specialise in eating these materials in the deep-sea. The project will use these packages as model experimental systems to address patterns of connectivity and ecosystem function in the deep sea. You can read more about the project on the NSF website.
We then spent two weeks at sea on board the R/V Oceanus deploying the experiments and sampling the animals that live on the deep seafloor off the Oregon and Washington continental margin at 1500-3000 m depth. These included lots of sea-pigs, brittle stars, sponges, worms and other wonderful denizens of the deep. Despite some rough weather we managed to complete all of our cruise objectives in good time. To top it all off we were spoiled with some of the best food that I've had on a scientific research vessel!
It was a useful learning opportunity in deep-sea research methods, so I am very grateful for Dr. Craig Smith and Dr. Ken Halanych for inviting me to participate in their project. I also enjoyed working with the other members of their labs, who were invaluable and I look forward to working together again in the future.