21 June, 1998

TEA Journal

Day 22



The ship hit a lead of open water last night so the "druggies" were able to do a trawl and collect some good bottom stuff. The name "druggies" refers to the interest these scientists have in the possible pharmaceutical substances synthesized by their critters of interest. We were in about 100 meters and the ROV had shown nice diversity within the benthic community. The trawl brought up several different species of tunicates, commonly called "sea squirts" and a nice collection of sponges and basket stars. This was the best trawl station so far so the "druggies" were happy.

The "druggies" are involved with cataloging the bottom dwellers and taking back to their respective labs as many samples as possible. DNA and chemical analysis will then be done to try and determine the chemical pathways these critters use to synthesize the different substances that allows them to live on the bottom, not move too fast, and not be breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every other predator and parasite down there. Anti-fouling substances and defensive chemicals are some of the products that the "druggies" would like to be able to analyze and synthesize in a lab environment.

The goal now is to get to a 1,000 meter depth, do a CTD cast, collect Tara's last batch of water, get the box core down for one good down and back and start pointing our tired and thirsty noses towards Nome! To do the deep station we are going to have to follow Barrow Canyon out 20 or more miles to where it drops into the Canadian Basin. The ice cover is quite heavy and this will be no small task.

Terry is pretty busy helping the bridge with finding leads and weak ice so he is letting me handle the helo sampling runs. Today Pete, Tara, and I went out to collect sediment and we found some great stuff on one parcticularly dirty floe. This thing was about an acre in surface and was the dirtiest piece of ice we could spot from 500 feet up. Ridged all around the edge and just full of mud and gravel, it turned out to be a real find. We discovered rocks of end of your thumb size sitting on the ice surface and the wondering continues as to how material of this size can be incorporated into ice floes. Just as we were getting ready to leave I was attempting to sketch the floe when I had that sensation of being watched. The crew chief was starting to put the gun in storage and just as I was ready to say something I heard a bit of a snort and right there in the middle of this muddy pond in the middle of this muddy floe was a seal checking us out. It didn't waste much time with us once it got a breath but it was a pretty cool thing to see. The other big find of the day came from our first site, which was dirty, but composed of entirely different sediment than "big muddy". The bear watch discovered a wasp, in a melt pond, encrusted in a small chunk of granular ice. As soon as I spooned the ice chunk out of the water, the wasp started to move it's antennae and wings. I put it in a plastic bag and within minutes we had a fully operational, not happy to be where it was, ready to bite somebody, wasp! Pretty nifty arctic find!! My thought is that this guy got blown off land by a good wind but the nearest land is over 40 miles away. I am familiar with tundra bees but they are fat and hairy and very bee looking. This guy is no doubt a wasp, looks like a mud wasp, and I do not know of their occurrence on the Slope. Something to look into when I get home!

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