Skip to content

DEEPC Hawai’i Expedition 2018 – Log 1

Chief scientist Steve Haddock checks on the MiniROV cameras in the control room. The Mini and control room pack up into shipping containers and can be set-up on numerous different vessels around the world.

DEEPC Hawai’i Expedition 2018 – Log 1

If you are a fan of nature documentaries, you may have come across a strange, gelatinous creature floating through the water with its many-colored glimmering comb rows. These luminescent animals are not, in fact, aliens or robots, but ctenophores (the “c” is silent, so it is pronounce “tee-no-fors”), commonly called comb jellies. Ctenophores are gelatinous marine predators that inhabit the ocean from the surface to great depths. And while they are fragile and delicate when removed from the water, ctenophores are a robust part of the ocean ecosystem. Of particular interest to the team assembled aboard this ship are the dramatic physiological and genetic changes that must occur for an animal to shift its habitat from shallow to deeper waters, a shift that requires adaptations to higher pressures, lower temperatures, infrequent meals, sometimes limited oxygen, and little-to-no light.

Many people may think of lounging by the pool and playing shuffle board when they hear the word “cruise”, but a research cruise is a different story. Working on a ship is hard; it requires long hours of manual labor as well as intense critical thinking, problem solving, and a great deal of collaboration on the part of both the scientists and the crew. But seeing the glimmer of a comb row or a flash of bioluminescence or the endlessly pulsing lobes of a ctenophore, and knowing that every day we are closer to understanding the complexities of these amazing creatures, makes the work more than worth it for all of us.

About DEEPC Hawai’i Expedition 2018

November 1-12, 2018 – The Zooplankton biodiversity group is working to answer questions about the biochemical, physiological, and genetic adaptations that ctenophores have evolved to help them survive and diversify in the deep sea.