Cruise Log: 8/09/2009
The JSL submersible as a research tool
|Johnson Sea-Link - click to enlarge|
There remains an amazing amount of underwater territory near shore that we know little about and hasn't been visited. Although we are aware of many deep coral reefs, our team's latest mapping efforts suggest additional locations where reefs may exist in our study area. On this cruise we are fortunate to be able to see some of these places in person using the JSL. Although it is less expensive to explore the deep using unmanned equipment, there is no replacing the experience of seeing these habitats in a panoramic view through the sphere of the JSL. The first few dives of this mission produced samples for many of our science objectives and most samples are subdivided to be utilized by different researchers. For example, the small pieces of Lophelia pertusa
we have collected will be used for studies of genetic connectivity between reef areas, coral reproductive biology, and food web studies. Knowing the bottom location of collected samples and observing the habitat where they live add great value to these collections. Despite the utility of this research tool, the JSL is a vulnerable resource and our access to it depends on the commitment of many organizations, universities and agencies.
|The Johnson Sea-Link with the Kellogg Sampler mounted to the front, ready for the morning dive. - click to enlarge|
A special collection container, called a Kellogg Sampler, was placed on the front of the submersible for Julie Galkiewicz's (USGS) first dive. This sampler is designed to store individual coral collections in separate well insulated compartments, allow the micro organisms associated with each sample to remain isolated, and retain the sea water as close to the cold natural conditions as possible. Julie says she is on a "treasure hunt" to try and find out what micro-organisms, such as bacteria, are living on deep water corals. She is working with Dr. Chris Kellogg (USGS) to see if using strange and unusual culturing methods might lead them to strange and unusual micro-organisms.
The Kellogg Sampler is made out of a strong resin, with cup like wells for holding the samples. Each well has a sliding door which is left open during the descent, and then closed when the submersible reaches the bottom. When the scientist has identified a small piece of coral to collect, the pilot opens the door and drops the coral sample inside and closes the door immediately.
|Julie (USGS) climbs up the ladder to get into the bow of the sub for her first dive. From the sphere she is able to coordinate the coral collection for the Kellogg Sampler. - click to enlarge|
As soon as the submersible returned to the ship, Julie began processing these living samples. She divided each sample - preserving a piece to examine later, extracted DNA immediately, and used the tissue and mucus produced by the corals for a culture. The cultures were then placed in the cold room so that they could grow at the same ambient temperature that they experienced in the deep sea. In previous studies they have found bacteria growing in association with the coral.
Julie discovered her passion for underwater research thanks to her high school teacher who taught a marine biology class - in Minnesota! As part of the class, the students received SCUBA certification and participated in field trips to dive in the Caribbean. Many of her classmates enjoyed the experience but she knew it was what she wanted to do for her career. Julie finished her undergraduate studies at William and Mary and is pursuing a PhD in Biological Oceanography at the University of South Florida.