SUB1 Log 6 - July 26th

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Last night, Mirko experienced another failure with the multi-corer which did touch the bottom and collected sediment this time, but lost the sediment on the way up to the surface from 3,400 meters. So it was back to the trusted box corer, which produced a reliable result. Mirko quickly retrieved the samples and placed them in test tubes for bacteria analysis. In one set of tubes, he wanted to see how much organic material they would consume, so he gave them some substrate, covered all of them with aluminum foil, and remarked to me that they were ‘shy’ and did not like light, and he did not want to know what they were getting up too! Other samples were time sensitive, so sets of three test tubes had to be placed in the freezer every 3-4 hours all through the night. Beside analyzing the bacteria, the campaign is also looking for Meiofauna and invertebrate fauna, searching for new species, and comparing relative quantities from one deep-sea station to another.

As promised, I did see an incredible light show last night, dozens of petri dishes, full of glowing bacteria. Simona Scarfi, whose expertise is in microbial ecology, was busy filtering water samples taken from the Niskin (non-pressurized) bottles and the High-Pressure bottles of Christian Tamburini. She put 100 ml/l of water in each dish to incubate bacteria, so as to compare the bacteria found in each type of bottle. It appears that there are a lot more bacteria at 1,000m than at 1,500 m, however at the 3,000 m level the bacteria increase and become larger. She pulled some incubated bacteria samples from two days ago and they lit up in the dark: they are special photo-bacteria.

And finally to finish off the evening, it was sunsets and cell phones, as every crewmember and researcher was up on the top deck phoning home as we passed by Ustica Island, a beautiful volcanic island which is now a marine protected area.

Rosario Lavezza Sampling for Primary Production

It was quite a sight, everyone on his or her phone, all talking at the same time, as we only had this opportunity for a few minutes as we passed the island.

This morning we are experiencing our first rough waters, with swells of up to one and a half meters. It is slightly over cast. However our sampling is going quite quickly as we are in very shallow waters between 200 and 700 meters located in a transect between the Sicilian and Sardinia Channel.

Carmen Raffa Primary Production Set Up
Franco Decembrini, who is a Biochemist, is using water samples to reproduce what’s called “primary production”, in other words to recreate the environment where the water was sampled. Using special tanks, he and Carmen Raffa, who is also a biochemist, put the samples in various, clear and dark coated bottles and submerge them into special tanks with sun filters on them. They then let them sit for approximately three hours. They put C14 in each of the sample bottles and will measure tropic carbon uptake, in the different phytoplankton size-fractions. The bottles sit for approximately three hours. The different ratio of the size-fraction can be indicator of changes in the trophic food chains.

Well that is all for today, I am Siri Campbell reporting from the CIESM SUB 1.
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