Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute


Day Six - Wet and wild at Station 3
13 February 2011

The Lone Ranger sailed through the night to the next science station, about 280 kilometers (170 miles) southwest of Bermuda. Rough weather continued to be a challenge for our work. The sea swells had grown considerably and sprinkles of rain kept everyone damp throughout the day.

During the morning, Jeff Drazen and John Yeh readied the baited camera system for a deployment. They checked each of the five yellow floats that provide buoyancy. They programmed the camera and sealed it into a titanium housing that protects it from the immense pressure of the deep sea. They tested batteries, cleaned O-ring gaskets to ensure watertight seals, and serviced the acoustic release electronics.

John Yeh installs an O-ring on the acoustic release for the baited camera system.
Jeff Drazen prepares the radio transmitter and beacon for the spar bouy that connects to the baited camera system.

By mid-morning the camera system was successfully launched into the water. It travelled 5,000 meters—more than three miles—to reach the seafloor, sinking at a rate of 30 meters per minute (about one mile per hour). Tomorrow afternoon we'll recall it back to the surface and see what data it collected about deep-sea life and what was attracted to the bait.

After the deployment, we searched for patches of Sargassum seaweed to collect at this station. The rough weather has clearly had an effect on patch size as only small bits and pieces were found floating around us. The largest patches we saw today were no bigger than a dinner plate. The sea conditions also made it difficult to net directly from the Lone Ranger so Ken Smith went out in a small boat for collection. It was a wet, sloppy day for sorting through buckets of seaweed.

— Debbie Nail Meyer

Dale Graves helps sort Sargassum seaweed samples.
While most of our samples have been the dominant species Sargassum natans, we've also found some of this species, S. filipendula.
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