Showing posts from November, 2019

Gold record

Back in 2017, I worked with my German collaborators to finish a long-term experiment on recruitment in the Arctic deep sea . A lander frame with brick and plastic panels that had been deployed in 1999 was finally brought to the surface  in 2017, and I had the opportunity to see what was living on it. Some of you may remember one of the most common species on the panels was the crinoid (sea lily)  Bathycrinus carpenterii . Some of my crinoid specimens - those stalks are tiny ! The more I looked at the samples, the more I started to see a pattern. There were two distinct sizes of Bathycrinus on the panels - one large, one small. I started brainstorming reasons why there would be two different sizes, and I hypothesized that the two size groups had individuals of different ages - one older, one younger. If that's true, it means Bathycrinus carpenterii might have had only two reproductive events in the 18 years the experiment was taking place. Think about that for a second: if

Cardboard mountain

Back when I lived in Oregon , the other members of my church were very familiar with my travel habit. Every time I showed up for Sunday service, they'd greet me the exact same way: "Hi, welcome back! When do you leave again?" Every single Sunday. And I tell you what, they were right - every time I return from one trip, I'm already preparing for the next one. That is absolutely the case for me this week, because even though I just got back to Woods Hole, I am already (surprise, surprise) preparing for another trip. This winter, I'm going to spend some time in Svalbard , that archipelago north of Norway that is my all-time favorite place on Earth . Svalbard is on the front lines of climate change, as it's been warming rapidly over the last 20 years. Sea ice is receding, ocean temperatures are rising (even in the deep sea), and most recently, warm Atlantic water has started penetrating Svalbard fjords in mid-winter. When warm Atlantic water rushes in, it me

Cave country

“Sometimes you don’t need a plan, bro. Sometimes you just need balls.”  – my dive instructor’s T-shirt We packed the truck, left in the early morning, and headed west. I was eager to use my newly-minted rebreather skills in the real world, and today’s dive offered an opportunity for just that. My husband, Carl, rode beside Rob, our instructor/guide, while I curled up in the back. After a couple hours, we pulled off the highway and onto a dirt road in a state park. A rusty, unlocked gate served as a deterrent for anyone who didn’t know where they were going, and a large brown sign listed the rules: don’t dive alone; leave your certification cards on your dashboard; and be back by sundown. Emerald Spring was exactly what I was expecting for a dive site in cave country: an unassuming yet surprisingly deep hole in the ground in the woods. Many of the north Florida dive sites are actually surrounded by infrastructure – camp grounds and picnic tables and gift shops. At one well-k

Blue Grotto

“Dive more, post less” – motto of Amigos Dive Center, in north-central Florida Blue Grotto could be in a storybook. The heroes would arrive at the freshwater spring after a long, arduous journey through the north Floridian wilderness, drenched in sweat, thirsty, and tired. They would trudge along with their heavy packs and round a bend in the dusty trail, then find themselves facing an unimaginable oasis. The circular basin is filled with crystal-clear water, unencumbered by algae or silt. The glassy surface is disturbed only by sprinkles from the miniature waterfall above. Bluegill sunfish glide around in the upper layers, while a turtle named Virgil paddles lazily below. In reality, Blue Grotto is surrounded by a busy park with picnic tables and vans full of college kids, but its beauty was not lost on me. It was a perfect dive site to learn new skills. I’ve spent the last week in north-central Florida, a part of the world that divers simply call “cave country.” Thous