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Science Field Trip

Day three at sea: Critters, mud and sampling

Day 3 on the RV Southern Surveyor.  This blog by Luana ‘I love macrofaunal isopods in the mud’ Lins from The University of Sydney. She says her real full name is almost as long as the nickname her crew mates have given her.

 Monday 15 August 2011, 20:35hrs

The third day onboard Southern Surveyor begun as a beautiful calm day, it seems that every day will begin like this. Fingers crossed that it will stay like this! As this is my first time onboard I don’t really want to see how rocky the sea can be! Tiffany ‘I won’t be sick’ Cole is already having enough trouble in calm conditions never mind rough ones.

Today was our first stationary station, off Warrnambool, and we were all really excited to see what we would get from the deep blue sea.




The EZ net going in the water

What I wanted was mud, and lots of it! First deployment was the EZ net, a behemoth of a beast that can be fired at different depths to take multiple plankton samples.








Then it was on to the neuston net, plastics again and two of our crew, Mailie & Julia are happy, plastics and microscopic beasts, what can you say!

Julia and Mailie with their samples

Deploying the CTD - the moon just visible in the background.

Time to deploy the beloved CTD, the primary tool of physical oceanographers everywhere (it provides a salinity and temperature profile of the water column as well as taking water samples at pre-set depths), but aghhh, misfires and problems, resulting in a frustrated Jason ‘Ironman’ Reynolds with no water for his metals (iron of course).

Oh well, c’est la vie, and such is the course for many of the toys we play with!










The Smith-Mac grab being lowered.

After the CTD it is time for the Smith-Mac grab (a stainless steel scoop of the sea floor). My turn and chance to get some mud and some little isopod friends. We set it up, after a debate about pins in or pins out and it begins its long trip to the bottom of the deep blue sea, fingers crossed it will hit the bottom and come back full of mud.

Aghhh, it gets back to the surface and it hasn’t fired, b**ger, was it pins in or pins out, so we go for a second deployment and then we break it, I can feel the tears welling up, oh well, c’est la vie once again! But all was not lost, we had a spare on board and this one could be fixed, I would not be without mud, but it looked like I would have to wait until the next station (another two days wait!).









But then it was time for the epibenthic sled (designed, supposedly to sample the animals living on the surface of the seafloor), we drop it in, wait an hour and what should I say epibenthic sled-not but instead a beautiful mud sampler, all 10 tons of it! I was happy but now a bit aghast at how much mud I had, well at least I would find some isopod friends in it.

Dr Seb Holmes taking the mud from the epibenthic sled.

This is a good lesson to learn, in the sea not always things go as planned!! Let’s see how we fare with our next samples!


About UWS Field Expeditions

The University of Western Sydney has 40,000 students and 5,000 staff at six campus across Greater Western Sydney. From time to time UWS academic staff and students take their studies out into the field on expeditions of learning and discovery. Join them here...


2 thoughts on “Day three at sea: Critters, mud and sampling

  1. great story Luana! I hope you were able to fix the smith mac, and the seas remain calm. enjoy playing in the mud!

    Posted by Nate Lo | August 17, 2011, 1:47 pm
  2. Hey Luana..I wondered where you went!!! How exciting…. hope you get lots of isopods and no seasick (keep eating!!) Lexie Mud-lover too 🙂

    Posted by Lexie Walker | August 19, 2011, 9:11 am

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