Thursday, 11 August 2011

Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 5

Alan with his lander 'Dave', about to be deployed
over the back of the ship. Image: Nina
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 1
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 2
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 3
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 4
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 6
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 7

Things have been relatively quiet over the last few days. No riots here, just high base levels of madness, but then you have to be slightly weird to want to go on a research ship for half of your summer. A few of us have put our heads together and have come up with some ideas for thwarting the violence. We propose the development of a porridge cannon firing hot, sloppy, honey saturated oats. "You would have to counter it with milk and sugar" said one scientist, "they wouldn't expect that". I'm not here to comment on the riots, nor should I make light of the situation but it is very odd reading the updates from sea, it all feels very unreal.

"What exciting thing have you discovered today?!" I imagine my supervisor will be thinking. Well Julian, personally absolutely nothing. I got up, went to the gym then ate a giant plate of shepherds pie and cabbage for breakfast. Proper scientists however have been discovering some really amazing stuff.

Alan Jamieson from Oceanlab, Aberdeen, has sent his lander 'Dave' to the sea floor to photograph the mud (mud again), haha only joking, to photograph the animals! Sorry mud scientists but I've had quite enough of your mud for the time being, especially when there are ugly fish to be photographed!

An Ophidiid, Bassozetus sp., a cusk-eel. Image: Alan Jamieson
An abyssal grenadier (Coryphaenoides armatus) looking rather sad. It must be hard being a deep sea fish.
Image: Alan Jamieson

Nine abyssal grenadiers at the bait. Image: Alan Jamieson
The lander is essentially a large aluminium frame with a number of cameras attached to it, a giant flash and a weight with bait attached to it (more stinking mackerel). It gets sent to the bottom and (hopefully) paparazzis all of the beasties who come to dine at Alan's table. Whilst it may seem relatively easy to chuck a piece of kit over the side to sink to the bottom of the ocean, getting it back is a complicated process. And actually there is no 'chucking' involved, but careful winching and manoeuvring to ensure the lander doesn't get destroyed by the ship's propeller.

To get Dave back (and all of the photos) an acoustic signal is sent from the ship into the water where it travels down to Dave and triggers the release of it's (his?) weights via the movement of mechanical arms. Dave then floats up to the surface powered by the buoyancy of the glass floats attached, where he is collected by the ship! Phew. How on earth this signal manages to travel from the boat all the way to the bottom of the ocean, intact, is beyond me. Mysterious wizardry.

Trawl on Saturday morning, really hope we catch this fella, Bassozetus compressus, the abyssal assfish. Excellent.

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