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15 July, 2003

Simply put, we are in deep water. For the last three days or so we have been in the waters of the Canada Basin that range from 3000- 4000 meters deep. Each CTD cast is very challenging and time consuming for everyone involved since it can take three hours or more to lower and retrieve the rosette. Then it may take another hour or so to draw all the samples from the water bottles.

So it was no small consideration to add yet another experiment to the already demanding routine of around the clock data gathering. But we're here to do science and everyone cheerfully accepts the additional responsibility. In fact, this test is so interesting, that almost everyone on board the Palmer plays a part in its execution at Station 37.

In preparation for the experiment, many of the officers and crew to most of the scientists and technicians have contributed a fair amount of effort getting ready to guarantee the successful completion of the Great Styrofoam Cup Crush Test. Parcticipants have spent hours rendering realistic drawings, decorative designs, and noteworthy names on a large number of quite ordinary Styrofoam cups. Many cups feature stylized portraits of marine mammals with the walrus being the most popular. I include the names of my several nieces and nephews on each cup. Perhaps the most impressive cup shows a beautiful "painting" of the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer in amazing detail. Indeed, several budding artistic styles are readily recognizable.

All of the cups, and one partial female mannequin torso, are placed into a mesh bag and attached to the bottom of the rosette which will be lowered to a depth of 3830 meters. The 380 atmospheres will produce about 5600 pounds of pressure on every square inch of each cup. Needless to say, everyone feels the "pressure" of this most critical and significant experiment. (Check out the images for the results.)

Cups, and one torso, after their dive to 3830 meters.

Marine mammal biologist, Heather Smith, removing the test cups from the net.

Test cups and original for comparison.

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