Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Milly: Ugly Fish pt 4

Milly: Ugly Fish pt 1
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 2
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 3
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 5
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 6
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 7

Juliette and I digging about in the catch
UGLY FISH! Finally, we have a trawl! Never have I seen so many bizarre looking animals (presuming things that freakish are allowed to be classified as animals) in one place before. Once the catch was hauled on board at about 8am, safely away from the stern that was flying in the air due to the brilliantly timed bad weather, Juliette and I got the first look in (we needed to get fish into the dark asap). That lasted a matter of minutes as a riot from the sidelines began to brew. Reluctantly we brought the catch into the hangar and the feeding frenzy commenced. All scientists descended, franticly digging around in the clinker (burnt coal from back when we had steam ships) pulling out sea cucumbers the size of, well, cucumbers which, in my opinion, fell into three categories. They either looked like bloated sausages, huge purple tongues or like something from the ‘extreme’ section of Anne Summers.

Quickly trying to whisk the fish away before they get exposed
to too much light
A fangtooth, wouldn't call this fish ugly to its face
A bizzarre collection of sea cucumbers.

Scientists went into warp drive, taxonomists started identifying the hundreds of deep sea creatures, geneticists took samples from everything that and one girl Zan after weighing and measuring the fish was even examining their stomach contents. Wonderful, organised chaos.

Sorting through the cucumbers

Looks like a rather disturbing picnic spread.

One of the many crustaceans
that came up with the trawl

Selection of grenadiers

An assortment of slickheads

So in the midst of all of the excitement what were Juliette and I doing? Oh, that’s right, we were barricaded in a blacked out lab with only dim red light to guide us and each other (plus a bag of fish) for company. Since we were under time constraints to get the eyes out of the fish as soon as physically possible I grabbed the first fish out of the bag (an extraordinarily disgusting place to put your hand into, I might add) whacked it on the scales and began the first dissection. Glancing over at Juliette I was slightly worried she might have had a melt down. After the weeks of careful planning and packing, she was finally about to begin the first sample collection, in the dark, likely to take about 12 hours and her legs and arms had frozen in place. Thankfully, the roll of the ship prevented any stationary activity and team fish were off.

With every hesitant poke around in the fish bag, came more gelatinous, benthic beasties. 

About 10 hours later, sleep deprived (after switching from the night shift), stinking of fish, cross eyed and suffering from tunnel vision, Juliette and I emerged triumphant. All fish processed, retinal tissue dissected and placed carefully into various fixes to preserve cells or RNA/DNA.

Apparently there will be another trawl on Friday. God help us.

Thanks Nina and Zan for the pictures!
Success! Sleep deprivation and a very wet arse.

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