Friends and interns

July 14, 2013

On this cruise, there are quite a few collaborators working with the Haddock lab. I talked about the work of the Dunn lab on day three. Today, you will learn about Jamie Baldwin-Fergus’ work and hear from the Haddock lab’s summer intern, Alex Jaffe.

Jamie is a postdoctoral scholar working with Karen Osborn at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Jamie is studying visual ecology of hyperiid amphipods, a group of pelagic crustaceans occupying shallow to very deep pelagic waters. These crustaceans commonly live in association with various members of the gelatinous zooplankton, including siphonophores, salps, and scyphozoans. Primarily, Jamie is interested in the visual adaptations found in the hyperiid amphipods, who have a number of remarkable eye configurations.

On this cruise, she is gathering hyperiids via the submersible and blue-water diving. After collection, the specimens are kept in the dark for eight to 12 hours and then frozen. The frozen animals will be transported to Duke University where Jamie will use microspectrophotometry to determine the color(s) of light the animals can see. This process involves putting a beam of light through a thin section of photoreceptors and measuring the amount of light absorbed at each wavelength. These spectral sensitivity measurements will then be used in ecological models that estimate how the animal perceives its environment. The lanceolid pictured here is one of the deeper-living species that Jamie will use in her studies on hyperiid visual adaptations to pelagic life.

(Left) Jamie looks at the animal in a sampler after an ROV dive. (Right) A lanceolid amphipod.

(Left) Jamie looks at the animal in a sampler after an ROV dive. (Right) A lanceolid amphipod.

From Alex Jaffe:
The cruise has been a great experience so far, and also has really allowed me to connect the dots between my project at MBARI and the actual organisms we’re studying. On shore, I’ve been examining a large dataset of ROV observations from 1989 onwards, which describes spatial and temporal occurrences of ctenophores and siphonophores in the Monterey Bay as well as the crustaceans they feed upon. The last few days, between the ROV footage and samples, have allowed me to gain a better conception of what these data actually describe—what does it mean for an animal to appear in our database as an observation? Seeing exactly how the data are collected, along with some time behind the annotation station myself, has given me a new perspective on the data that one can only get in the field. I’ve also loved the night trawls I’ve done with Meghan—we’ve pulled up some really cool mesopelagic fishes!

We even let interns sit at the camera controls in the ROV control room! Right, Alex controls the HD camera.

We even let interns sit at the camera controls in the ROV control room! Right, Alex controls the HD camera.


Alex has been acting as Meghan’s right-hand man for trawl deployment and recoveries. Meghan is holding the trawl’s depth recorder. You can see that they have fun deploying trawls.

Alex has been acting as Meghan’s right-hand man for trawl deployment and recoveries. Meghan is holding the trawl’s depth recorder. You can see that they have fun deploying trawls.

—Susan von Thun