Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

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Day Four - Small boat operations
11 February 2011

We collected more Sargassum today to complete sampling for species and genetic studies at the first science station. Like the day before, the researchers scooped up the seaweed using nets on long poles to reach out over the sides of the Lone Ranger into the ocean. But the patches floating by the ship were much smaller and less numerous today and the winds made it difficult to sample very much.

Judit Pungor and Jake Ellena scoop small bits of Sargassum using nets on long poles.

Luckily, by mid-afternoon the seas had calmed enough that Captain Bernd Buchner gave his permission to launch one of the small boats to help the collection efforts. Jeff Drazen went out on the boat with Chief Mate Sergiy Sokirko and Deckhand Kyrylo Ierofieiev. They motored away from the ship and successfully collected several samples. They even captured a small fish in the seaweed, the first one we had seen. When they returned, we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening sorting out the critters and cataloging them.

Jeff Drazen and crew members Sergiy Sokirko and Kyrylo Ierofieiev collect Sargassum seaweed from a small boat.

Anticipating more rough weather, we sailed through the night for our next science station, about 170 kilometers south.

Sargassum crabs (Planes minutus) are related to shore crabs. The small hooks on each leg help them stay attached to the seaweed.

— Debbie Nail Meyer

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