Looking for vicarious adventure? Check out two new expedition blogs, both of which are underway right now!
The Tonga Trench Expedition is a Scripps Institution of Oceanography student cruise, led by Scripps graduate student/chief scientist Rosa Leon Zayas. (and if anyone out there is looking for a kick-ass female Latina marine biologist role model - look no further!) The purpose of the expedition is to “to understand the composition of the microbial community of the Tonga Trench and how it is affected by pressure and other environmental conditions.” They’ve just deployed their first instrument, “Deep Sound.”
Cold Dark Benthos is a research blog out of McMurdo Station, Antarctica, by Andrew Thurber (who did his PhD at Scripps with me) & Rory Welsh. They are looking at the role of microbes in the Antarctic food web:
Spiophanes tcherniai is a species of Polychaete that occurs in incredible densities. To be exact in every square meter of sediment there are 150,000 to 180,000 individuals of this species as well as a variety of other species that we call ‘macrofauna.’ The macrofauna are visible to the eye but amazing under a microscope and all are, by definition, greater than 0.3mm in size. Its an diverse community with small shrimp looking animals, worms of every shape and colors, not to mention clams and anemones. They co-occur with an incredible variety of bacteria and what we really want to know with this research is whether the bacteria are competing with the animals or facilitating the persistance of these animals, allowing this incredible density in a veritable dessert of food.