Thursday, September 20, 2012

DAY FOUR (9/20/12)

Today was spent collecting data with a CTD, which is a piece of equipment used to measure conductivity (a surrogate for salinity), temperature, depth, fluorescence (a surrogate for chlorophyll levels), dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.  The CTD was lowered into the water at Baker and Aransas Banks from the aft deck using a crane, and the device profiled the entire water column from the surface to the sea floor.  We monitored real-time graphs from the science control room.   Also, scientists analyzed water samples that came up with the CTD looking for Karenia, which is a genus of algae that causes harmful algal blooms, which was indeed identified in the samples.

CTD being lowered into the water above Baker Bank
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

Additionally, we filled in gaps in the multibeam data for the northern grouping of the South Texas Banks and began collecting sub-bottom profile data to help geologists determine the extent of the site formations below the sea bottom.  Such data are valuable to determine the age and origin of the banks.
Pankaj Khanna (Rice University student)
processing sub-bottom profile data
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

Dr. Tom Shirley spoke at the SASS series today.  He talked about serpent stars, deep-sea brittlestars, and their affinity for certain species of soft corals—sea fans in particular. 

Dr. Shirley speaking at the afternoon SASS
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

In the Baker Bank videos yesterday, we saw one species that was wrapped around wire coral reminiscent of a wad of chewing gum.

Deep-sea brittlestar wrapped around wire coral
Image credit:  Deep Sea Systems International; Schmidt Ocean Institute

Wildlife spotted today included yet more playful, leaping dolphins and a gliding peregrine falcon.

Day 4 Sunset
Image credit: Maureen Trnka

Written by Harriet Nash for Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

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