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> May 9, 2006 – Science in Progress, First Stations of the Expedition
Patricia_Janes
post May 10 2006, 05:35 PM
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May 9, 2006 – Aboard the Healy

Longitude: 173 25.941 W, Latitude: 61 39.878 N

Today was a big day for the Healy science crew. At 540 hours (5:40 AM), we finally came to the first spot where we would collect data. I work the noon-to-midnight shift, so I was fast asleep. But for the midnight-to-noon crew, it was time to get down to business. When I went down to the science lab at noon, people were analyzing the samples they had collected earlier that morning.

Chris and Jason, graduate students from the University of Wyoming, were hard at work separating the species of marine life that they had pulled up using a trawl net. They had lowered a net down to 60 meters and left it in the water for 20 minutes. When they finally lifted it, they found clams, sea stars, crabs, three fish, and many other animals.

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Jason (left) and Chris (right) sift through the different species of marine life that they pulled up using a large net.

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Basket stars are a type of brittle star. They are related to sea stars, with which you might be more familiar. Basket stars eat detritus, or matter that is formed when plants and animals decay.

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Crabs eat clams. Spectacled eiders, a type of bird, also eat clams. One question that Jason has is: How many crabs are competing with spectacled eiders for food?

Later, after sailing to the second station, we go out on deck to do what’s called a “van Veen grab.” Basically, that just means that we lower a heavy metal object that picks up a scoopful of seafloor sediment. Then, we empty the mud into a box with a mesh-screened bottom and hose it down with water. The mud and water runs out, while any shells or creatures that had been hiding out in the mud remain. The scientists will take these samples back to their universities once this expedition is over so they can study them further.

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A system of cables and pulleys slowly lifts the heavy van Veen from the water. It is loaded with a muddy sediment from the bottom of the Bering Sea.

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This box of muck contains all sorts of tiny creatures. After washing away the mud, we find clams, sea worms, and more.
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