The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Sam Bosman

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Sam Bosman

In 2008 I moved from the east coast of Canada, where I finished my Master’s degree in Science, to Florida to start my career at Florida State University. I had never imagined that I would still be here after what was supposed to be a three year contract, and be a part of a large oil spill project working with researchers from several institutions across the United States, including international institutions. Since the oil spill in 2010, I have participated on approximately 10 research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, including a couple of cruises along the coast of Mexico and a cruise to the coast of Cuba. Each cruise has been unique with the opportunity to work with different people and explore new sampling grounds. The most interesting cruise was the Cuba cruise where we sampled areas we had never sampled before and truly put our sampling gear to the test. In addition, we worked with some amazing people from Cuba.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Dr. Travis Washburn

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Dr. Travis Washburn

So this is my third Mud & Blood cruise, and my focus is definitely on the mud!

One Gulf Expedition Hub

My name is Travis Washburn, and I work at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  My dissertation focused on the impacts of oil on the deep Gulf of Mexico communities living in the mud.  My lab is hoping to use samples collected in the same places over the last several years to determine how communities in the deep naturally change over time.

Without knowledge on these natural changes it is very difficult to determine whether the Deepwater Horizon spill is still affecting animals to this day or if the changes we have seen over time would have happened regardless of the spill.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega-Ortíz

R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega-Ortíz

USF-Marine Science | Fishing Team, Ecosystem Modeling

I am part of the ecological modelling team of C-IMAGE. More specifically, I am working on an Atlantis model for the southern Gulf of Mexico. During the first leg of the 2017 One Gulf cruise I helped setting and recovering the long line and also served as a translator.

This cruise visited a part of the Gulf of Mexico where I had never been before. Before the cruise I was looking forward to seeing the area and learning about the environmental conditions and the fish species that occur there and how they compare to other regions. I was aware that the Loop Current current flows through the area bringing in water from the Caribbean Sea. So, I expected that we would catch some fish species from the Caribbean region in addition to those we had seen in other parts of the Gulf. I also discussed with other researchers the fact that maps showed a narrow continental shelf and we were concerned that setting the fishing gear at a specific depth would be more challenging than in other cruises. Nevertheless, I was really excited to be part of the expedition and complete the sampling work across the entire gulf. I was also excited to meet our Cuban colleagues and learn about their work and their experiences.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Education Day-Ben Prueitt

R/V Weatherbird Log-Education Day-Ben Prueitt

USF Marine Science | Outreach & Operations

Making expectations for this cruise was difficult, on top of me having only one leg of a Mud & Blood cruise under my belt, a collaborative cruise to Cuba has not occurred in 50 years. I was most excited to meet and interact with Cuban researchers, practice my Spanish, and share perspectives of studying shared Gulf waters. For Americans, Cuba has always been this ‘forbidden fruit’, while the history between our countries has been controversial or cold, I quickly learned the people are warm and welcoming, respectful, and curious about research and cultural differences.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Susan Snyder

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Susan Snyder

After this cruise to Cuba, I have circumnavigated the Gulf of Mexico on the R/V Weatherbird II!

I have participated in each Mud & Blood cruise since 2012, from the northern Gulf, to the Yucatan, Bay of Campeche, Texas and now Cuba.  On all of these cruises, I have collected samples for my research, which is measuring levels of toxic hydrocarbons in the tissues of red snapper and golden tilefish.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Adrian Martínez Suárez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Adrian Martínez Suárez

Centro de Investigaciones Marinas-University of Havana | Recent sediments for paleo-environmental studies, Mud team

¿Cuáles fueron sus expectativas en el crucero? ¿Científicamente? ¿Colaborativamente?

Siempre esperé aprender mucho durante la estancia en el WeatherBird II. Ciertamente superó mis expectativas, conocer toda la mecánica de trabajo y colaborar de conjunto con científicos de alto rango a nivel internacional ha sido una de las mejores experiencias de mi vida.

What were your expectations leading into the cruise? Scientifically? Collaboratively?

I was hoping to learn a lot during my stay in the WeatherBird II and of course I did. Certainly it was beyond my expectations, to know all the work procedure and to collaborate with internationals high range scientists had been one of the greatest experiences in my life.

¿Qué era lo que más esperaba durante el crucero?

Sin dudas lo más esperado era experimentar la navegación en alta mar y el trabajo abordo.

What were you most looking forward to during the cruise?

Without any doubts the thing I was more excited about was to experiment the navigation and life at deep waters, and to work on board.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Alexei Ruiz Abierno

R/V Weatherbird Log-Alexei Ruiz Abierno

Centro de Investigaciones Marinas-University of Havana | Sharks diversity, abundance and distribution | Fish team

What were your expectations leading into the cruise? Scientifically? Collaboratively? 

To conduct sampling using bottom longline gear in order to collect information about the fish and sharks communities in the deep water of the NW coast of Cuba. I expect a high level of collaboration and friendship between Cuban and American scientist. Learning and solving the issues that can be present together.

What were you most looking forward to during the cruise?

The success of the expedition and accomplishment of all the goals.

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R/V Weathebird Log-Kristina Deak

R/V Weathebird Log-Kristina Deak

USF College of Marine Science | Molecular biology and genetics of golden tilefish | Fish collection and dissection 

How did your anticipation of this cruise compare with previous ones to the northern or southern Gulf?

I've worked with the Murawski lab in the northern Gulf since June 2012, so I'm familiar with the type of organisms we catch in different depths and regions there.  When we expanded our sampling efforts to Mexican waters in 2015-2016, I think we were all surprised at how the size and assemblage of organisms we caught changed.  Cuba was a completely different animal, since the depths change rapidly and we weren't really sure what sort of bottom type we would be dealing with.  I wasn't sure what we would find, but I was very excited at the prospect of seeing some different species and interacting with the Cuban scientists!

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Zenaida Navarro

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Zenaida Navarro

My name is Zenaida María Navarro Martínez. I am a PhD student from the Center for Marine Research, University of Havana (CIM-UH). My research topic is Ecology and conservation of marine fishes. My PhD, specifically, is about bonefish and tarpon connectivity through different areas in Cuba. I was on the Weatherbird II in the first leg (May 10-16, 2017). My role in the cruise was the fisheries and I helped in plankton activities too.

My experience on board of Weatherbird II was great!!! Actually, in all the aspects: researcher, personal, commodities, I am very satisfied and I felt better compared to my expectations. I learned, in first place, how to work in an oceanographic vessel. This was my first time on board of this type of vessel and working in deeper areas.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Patrick Schwing

R/V Weatherbird Log-Patrick Schwing

USF Marine Science | Sediments, geochronology, benthic foraminifera | Coring coordinator, 'mud guru'

How did your anticipation of this cruise compare with previous ones to the northern or southern Gulf?

My anticipation of this cruise was similar logistically to some of the cruises to the Southern Gulf of Mexico, where there were many moving parts, personnel and logistical concerns. However, scientifically speaking, there were more unknowns than any of the other cruises because of the lack oceanographic research previously performed or available in these areas and a completely different oceanographic setting than the areas we had previously sampled in the northern and southern gulf.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

USF Marine Science | C-IMAGE Administrator

Well, after months and months of paper shuffling, translations, and countless phone calls, the C-IMAGE team is travelling to Cuba. Most of what we’re doing is the usual Mud and Blood sampling protocol; we’re taking some sediment cores and setting the long line to do some fish sampling.  In this perspective, we are simply doing what we’ve done before. 

However, this one is different, the first of its kind; a true collaborative research cruise between a US and a Cuban research academic institution.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Dan Razionale

R/V Weatherbird Log-Dan Razionale

My name is Dan Razionale, and I am currently a Marine Science Undergraduate on the Geophysics track at Eckerd College. My research focuses on various Geochemistry following the Deep Water Horizon Blowout event of 2010. I use sediment cores collected from the C-IMAGE cruises to make integrated graphs and tables illustrating how Reduction and Oxidation (Redox) environments are responding to the blowout event. By separating these cores into very small increments (2-5mm) from the top down, and analyzing them separately, I am able to create comprehensive depth profiles of specific metals in the surficial sediments.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Melissa Rohal

R/V Weatherbird Log-Melissa Rohal

Hi my name is Melissa Rohal I am a PhD Candidate at Texas A&M Corpus Christi working under Dr. Paul Montagna in the Coastal and Marine System Science Program.  My research focuses on the role and value of microscopic animals that live on or in the sediment.  While on the cruise my task was to collect sections of mud from sediment cores for later processing in the lab.

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One Gulf Wrap Up-Dr. Steve Murawski

One Gulf Wrap Up-Dr. Steve Murawski

A Final Blog from the Chief Scientist of the OneGulf Survey

Crossing under the Skyway Bridge into Tampa Bay represents the symbolic end of the OneGulf Expedition – a 40 day voyage of discovery of the biology and geology of the Gulf of Mexico.  Our travels throughout the Gulf took us over 4,000 miles and resulted in literally thousands of samples of fish, sediments, water and plankton.  In one sense the cruise is over, but in another sense it is just beginning.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Diana Torres Galindez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Diana Torres Galindez

Mi nombre es Diana Torres, soy estudiante de biologia de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM. 

He tenido la oportunidad de participar en dos de los cuatro transectos del Proyecto de C-IMAGE. En la primera ocasion tome un vuelo a Florida, para reunirme con el equipo de trabajo del C-IMAGE. Zarpamos  de Tampa el 2 de agosto y llegamos a Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, el 12 del mismo mes. 

Regrese a casa a recuperar energia y regrese al barco el 21 de agosto, lista para realizer un transecto mas de 10 dias. 

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

My name is Sherryl Gilbert and I am the C-IMAGE Program Manager.  On August 17th, I flew into Poza Rica, Mexico to meet my fellow C-IMAGErs just as they were two weeks into their Gulf Wide Fish Survey of 2016.

We are three days into this particular 10-day leg that left Tuxpan, Mexico on August 21 and will arrive in Corpus Christi, Texas on September 1.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to get away from my more standard C-IMAGE duties and help our students and scientists collect the pieces of this incredible dataset.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Kristina Deak

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Kristina Deak

Hi! I'm Kristina Deak, a PhD student with Dr. Steve Murawski at the USF College of Marine Science. This is my fifth year at sea with the Mud & Blood expedition collecting fish with Dr. Murawski.

I primarily study golden tilefish, a demersal fish that loves to make burrows out of mud.  This makes them a particularly attractive species for oil spill research, because they make their homes in the oiled sediment and then remain close by for the majority of their mature lives, leading to continual exposure to contaminants in the vicinity. 

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Dr. Shannon O'Leary

R/V Weatherbird Log-Dr. Shannon O'Leary

I recently discovered that an important component of my research is the fact that I am engaged in a real-life version of Go Fish.

As a postdoc in the Marine Genomics Lab at TAMUCC I study the molecular ecology and conservation genetics of exploited marine fish.

In less science-y terms that means that I use markers in the DNA to identify patterns of connectivity between fish population (so whether fish from one area breed with fish from another area) and explore the interaction with and adaptation on a genetic level and determine how this applies to marine conservation and management of fishes.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Chris Bailey

R/V Weatherbird Log-Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey, fisherman extraordinaire and crew member of FIO's R/V Weatherbird II, has been fishing with C-IMAGE scientists since 2014, and an active crew-member aboard the vessel since 2011. Chris’ role aboard the Weatherbird II during C-IMAGE research cruises is as the main fisherman, setting out and pulling in all of the fishing hooks.

To date, Chris has set and pulled in almost 58,000 hooks!

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Samantha Bosman

R/V Weatherbird Log-Samantha Bosman

My name is Samantha Bosman and I am Research Assistant at Florida State University. Since my last year of undergrad in 2004, I have participated on research cruises almost yearly. Each cruise has been unique and has offered different experiences.

During the One Gulf cruise, I experienced seasickness for the first time as we traveled toward the southern Gulf of Mexico shortly after tropical depression Earl traveled along the coast of Mexico. However, after a full uninterrupted five hours of sleep, I was able to recover and continue collecting samples.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Greta Helmueller

R/V Weatherbird Log-Greta Helmueller

Hello! My name is Greta, and I am an incoming master’s student at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. I originally hail from the great state of Minnesota, which doesn’t have too many oceans, so this is my first time doing any sort of oceanographic fieldwork ever! Therefore, I thought I’d dedicate my blog post to sharing things that I’ve learned about being on a research cruise as someone who has zero experience with the ocean:

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Kate Dubickas

R/V Weatherbird Log-Kate Dubickas

Not many places in the world does time stretch, compress, and become seemingly relative, but the middle of the ocean is one of them.

This includes my last four days aboard the Weatherbird II out here in the near middle of the Southern Gulf of Mexico. A group of five, including myself, Jeremy Browning, Dr. David Hollander, Dr. Patrick Schwing, and Dr. Isabel Romero met up with the Weatherbird II late morning on September 26 to exchange crew and begin our journey back to Saint Petersburg, Florida from Tuxpan, Veracruz.

I was invited on this research cruise as an opportunistic Zooplankton Ecologist. With the fish folks done with their sampling endeavors, our trek back to Saint Petersburg allowed for some Bongo Net deployments along the way; every 45 nautical miles or so. Every 45 nautical miles breaks down to about every 4.5 hours.

My name is Kate Dubickas, I am a second year master’s student at the University of South Florida, and this is my first research cruise where my mission was focused on sleeping in increments of 4 hours and collecting zooplankton.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Jeremy Browning

R/V Weatherbird Log-Jeremy Browning
I have the privilege of cruising back on a transect from Tuxpan, Mexico to St. Pete aboard the RV Weatherbird II, collecting planktonic fish eggs for DNA barcoding. You should know, as I told someone a few days ago: this IS my first rodeo.
 
My previous experiences have been in the realm of freshwater systems, so I am accustomed to grabbing a bucket, a net, and a notebook and wading in a creek for just a few hours collecting crayfish, grass shrimp, and sometimes mussels.
 
Given the lack of experience at sea, and being the type that obsesses over detail, preparing for this trip came with some degree of anxiety. I spent several weeks prior to flying into Mexico planning, packing, and making lists. Of the meticulous planning, I now say: That's cute. Those best laid plans are for naught in the face of circumstance.
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R/V Weatherbird Log-Gustavo Enciso Sánchez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Gustavo Enciso Sánchez

Antes de hacerles saber mis comentarios sobre lo observado en mi corta estancia a bordo del R/V Weatherbird II, deseo agradecer al Dr Murawski la invitación a este crucero.

Before expressing my comments regarding what I observed during my short stay on the R/V Weatherbird II, I want to thank Dr. Murawski for the invitation to participate on the cruise.

En resumen fue una experiencia agradable, observe orden y coordinación tanto en cubierta como en comedor y camarotes. El arte de pesca y tipo de draga empleados fue algo que no había observado antes aunque me llama la atención que no pescaron de noche.

In summary, it was a nice experience, I saw order and coordination on the deck, as well as on the galley and staterooms. I had not seen before the type of fishing gear and dredge used on this cruise and it called my attention that no fishing was conducted at night.

En el B/O Justo Sierra se hace la pesca por arrastre de red y se trabaja durante las 24 horas pero al parecer los objetivos de los estudios difieren. Lamento no haber podido auxiliar más a Brittany y los demás integrantes del equipo de trabajo y me siento un poco apenado de no hablar su idioma. Les reitero mi agradecimiento.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Erin Pulster

R/V Weatherbird Log-Erin Pulster

Day 19 onboard the R/V Weatherbird II for the C-Image II Southern Gulf of Mexico expedition.  Last night, while transiting across Bahia de Campeche, we were able to view the supermoon lunar eclipse, also known as the “blood moon”.  This seems fitting considering our cruises are known as “Mud & Blood”.

I can’t imagine a better place to stargaze and watch such a spectacular event that will not occur again for another 18 years.  Students, scientists and crew were scattered around the Weatherbird with all eyes in the sky.  With every rolling wave, the giant blood moon bounced across the sky, appearing so close as if you could reach out and grab it.  Luna bonita.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Antonio Frausto Castillo

R/V Weatherbird Log-Antonio Frausto Castillo

El trabajo observado para la colecta de organismos y sedimentos nos muestra otras técnicas de pesca así como la toma de las muestras. Donde se puede obtimizar el volumen de muestra para diversos análisis por organismo.

The work observed collecting organisms and sediments samples shows us other fishing techniques as well as taking samples. Where you can optimize the volume of samples for diverse analysis of the organism.

También vemos que el arte de pesca utilizado nos permite obtener organismos de mayor talla y por lo tanto se pueden observar mejor las posibles malformaciones teratogénicas y los posibles efectos de la contaminación en los diversos tejidos y órganos.

We also see that the fishing gear used allows us to obtain greater sizes and therefore we can better observe birth defects and effects of contamination in the various tissues and organs.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Itzel Michael López Durán

R/V Weatherbird Log-Itzel Michael López Durán

En la colaboración del Dr. Steve de la Universidad del Sur de Florida y del Dr. Adolfo Gracia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México pude observar diferencias en la forma de trabajo; debido a que el arte de pesca nosotros durante 10 años de estudio del Golfo de México hemos trabajado con red de arrastre en zonas costeras por lo que no nos permite obtener muestra de organismos de tallas mayores. Sin embargo en esta ocasión las especies son diversas a las que generalmente se vienen trabajando.

In collaboration with Dr. Steve (Murawski) of the University of South Florida and Dr. Adolfo Gracia of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México could observe differences in the form of work; we have been studying the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years using coastal trawl in coastal zones that do not allow us to collect organism samples of the same sizes. However, this time the species are different from those we generally work with.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Martin Ramirez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Martin Ramirez

La experiencia a bordo del buque de investigación Weatherbird II ha sido de gran importancia en mi carrera profesional, ya que me dejó gran aprendizaje, amigos, asi como la interacción con colegas. Todo ello me permitió intercambiar ideas entre diferentes investigadores y pudimos establecer líneas de investigacion con la información que se ha generado entre las instituciones involucradas en esta campaña oceanográfica.

My experience in board of the research vessel Weatherbird II has been of great relevance for my professional carrer. I take with me a lot of learnings, friends, and the interaction with colleagues. This let me interchange ideas with different scientist and we could established subjects for future research with the information generated by the institutions involved in this oceanographic cruise.

Por medio de observaciones a lo largo de esta campaña, pudimos constatar que ciertos peces se distribuyen por todo el Golfo de México, por ello, es ahí donde radica la importancia de los esfuerzos de colaboración interinstitucionales (UNAM, USF, TAMUCC). La complementación de información, generada y por generar acerca de las condiciones del Golfo de México es de gran relevancia para la sustentabilidad de los recursos que genera este ecosistema.

This journey let us see that certain fishes are distributed all a long the Gulf of Mexico, at that point, the inter-institutional  (UNAM, USF, TAMUCC) cooperation is relevant. The complement of information already generated and still to be generated further, about the conditions of the Gulf of Mexico is fundamental for the sustainability of the resources that this ecosystem generates.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega Ortiz

R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega Ortiz

This cruise has been a great opportunity to investigate fish species that live near the continental shelf edge in the southern Gulf of Mexico and make comparisons to what previous C-IMAGE cruises have found in the northern Gulf.

While fish caught in the deeper stations (golden tilefish, king snake eel, yellowedge grouper and hake) are familiar to researchers who have done the same work in the northern Gulf, they have seen different species on the shelf in the Campeche Bank.  Information on species diversity across regions of the Gulf will be very valuable for the ecological models we are developing for C-IMAGE.

Results from this cruise will be particularly useful for the Atlantis model I am working on, which focuses on Campeche Bay and the areas potentially affected by the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill. Having first-hand knowledge of the fish communities in this area will be useful for my work at USF.

The cruise has also given me an opportunity to return to a part of the world that is dear to me.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Brittany Verbeke

R/V Weatherbird Log-Brittany Verbeke

A little about myself: I was born in Florida, grew up in Colorado, and came back to Florida to go to Florida State University for undergrad. I graduated last fall with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology, and I am currently working as a lab technician in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at FSU.

Previously, I participated in the Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduates program through the University of New Hampshire, which included going to Sweden to study the thawing permafrost and presenting a poster at the American Geophysical Union conference. I also worked as a research assistant in the Geochemistry department at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, where I studied stable isotope concentrations of meteorites.

Her Research Interests:

While I am most interested in geology, I love anything and everything to do with isotopes; environmental science encompasses all earth systems whether it is geological or biological, and isotopes provide an important representation of these systems.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-22-23 September Update

R/V Weatherbird Log-22-23 September Update

Location as of 7:34am EDT (11:34 UTC): N 18.9188º, W 94.2364º, Water Temperature: 29.9ºC.

22 September Update (From Shannon O'Leary, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi):

We sampled the deep sights at transect 33 Tuesday. First two sets weren't to exciting, dogfish, lots of wenchmen, a grouper or two and a few snake eels. We did get two large spider crabs, a scalloped hammerhead and we had a bird come hang out a top the Weatherbird flagpole.

We hit the jackpot on the last site (33-150) with 15 tilefish and 15 or so Gulf hake - that means we've caught tilefish in and outside the area potentially affected by the oil spill, similar to the way they've been analyzed in the Northern Gulf. Susan found really high PAHs in their bile (highest ever recorded in a fish if I recall her paper correctly) and now we'll be able to see how that compares to the fish down here.

Today is Amy's birthday, so Thomas disguised the smell of chocolate cake baking in the oven with the shrimp he cooked up for lunch and we managed to keep it all a secret until she came up after her shower. The last station was a long one with that many tilefish getting the full treatment (i.e. Kristina's stuff in addition to all the other samples needed to be taken) and then still needing to work up an additional 15 fish after, so a large piece of chocolate cake was a good way to end the night (I'm still digesting my piece now).

Tomorrow we'll be sampling stations 30-150, 100 and 80.

23 September Update (From Steve Murawski, University of South Florida-College of Marine Science):

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Shannon O'Leary

R/V Weatherbird Log-Shannon O'Leary

“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

As usual, Anne (with an e!) says it best. People sometimes wonder why a kid growing up smack in the middle central Europe with the ocean at least a then hour drive away in every direction would always answer the question of what she wanted to do when she grew up with “Something with fish and the ocean”. I shall tell you why: I have always been fascinated by the world around us, animals, plants, the physical environment and how everything interacts. New places always meant new ecosystems and new things to discover.

And in some ways the ocean trumps terrestrial ecosystems, because while at first glance all you see is water around you, it is actually a complex system comprised of many ecosystems interacting with each other, each with its unique set of organisms and characterized by specific physical and chemical properties and so while it take a little more effort there seems to always be potential to discover more and more different things.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Jessie Heckman

 

My name is Jessie Heckman and I am going into my sophomore year at Eckerd College majoring in marine science on a geology track. I have been doing research with Dr. Gregg Brooks for about a year now and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go on this cruise and see the research I do in the lab come full circle. Today was our first day coring and my first time ever coring. Since we were at a shallow site, the whole process was pretty fast pace but a lot of fun.

Even though I went into coring not knowing much about the process, I came out much more confident. Everyone on the ”mud” crew was super informative and helpful (and patient) whenever I had questions or was unsure about a step in the coring process. I can’t wait for round two!

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Boryoung Shin

It has been a week on R/V Weatherbird for 'Mud and Blood' cruise. We have been lucky to have nice weather and successful core sampling. I've collected top 10 cm sediment samples and sea water samples to use for cultivation experiments. I also sectioned core sediments in fine scale from a few sites to analyze microbial community in sediments by depth.
 
This cruise has been really impressive because we have female students only and we really have showed 'girls' power' by great teamwork. I am excited to meet other people on second leg and I hope it will go smoothly as well.
 
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R/V Weatherbird Log-Kristina Deak

 

Greetings from the northern tip of the Desoto Canyon!

 After two slow days of fishing, we hit a couple of excellent sampling locations yesterday and were up until 2 AM processing all of our tilefish.  When a fish comes up we have to rapidly bleed it and collect a few very time-sensitive organs.  We use almost every organ of the fish, so each dissection is quite exhaustive.  Afterwards, the fish are filleted by the crew and everyone furiously tries to scrub scales and blood off of themselves and sleep as much as possible before the next long line set.

 

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Alejandra Mickle

"This research cruise is my 8th cruise in the GOM; my 4th aboard the R/V Weatherbird II but only my third cruise sampling sediments and using the CTD.

 

My overall research interest align w/ the biology and ecology of deep sea fishes and, for the most part, my trips to the GOM involve longlining for deep sea telosts & elasmobranchs. However, this time, my advisor Jeff Chanton, asked me to help out and represent him on this Mud and Blood curse. I was happy to help! I always.. or almost always, enjoy time at sea!

Although I have been on cruises to collect sediment cores and CTD samples in the past, I have always only been involved with the retrieval and collection of samples-never with the deployments of the multicorer. This time, I had the opportunity to be a part of the deployment operations and was able to learn how things need to be set up on the machine before it goes out to sea, adding another tool to my skill-set field work.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Erika Fredrik

16 August, 2015:

Night and day have become reversed roles to what I'm used to on a daily basis at work. During this research cruise, biologists longline during the day and geologists, like myself, core at night. As a scientist I have been condition research in the lab on BP oil spill samples for a little over two years now. Today, I got a hands-on opportunity to see how these samples are retrieved in the field.

Being able to work alongside experienced scientists made me appreciate science as a whole and helped me see how important it is to obtain complete core samples. At 7:30 am this morning, I deployed my first 8-core multicorer and moved these samples to a transfer post where I put a transfer collar on top of the coring tube-moving our samples into polytubes. After capping, taping and labeling a core, it was on to the next one!

'Strenuous, Muddy and Attentive' is how I would describe the field work on deck. Until today, I thought the majority of the effort dedicated to these samples was done in the lab. Turns out, I was wrong. Both these jobs are difficult; field work is simply more physically exhausting. While I may only be deploying an extruding for a relatively short period-I know that the stakes are high for samples taken at priority sites and it is crucial to remain focused and work together to get the job done. 

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R/V Justo Sierra Returns to Port

As of 10:30a EDT, the R/V Justo Sierra, crew and C-IMAGE researchers are back in port at Brownsville, TX and the first of our summer cruises is in the books. Researchers will begin dividing cores for analysis back to their respective universities, where the real work begins to uncover the mysteries of Ixtoc.

Dr. Patrick Schwing (USF-College of Marine Science), Cruise Coordinator & Co-Chief Scientist has some final words from the Return to Ixtoc cruise:

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.--Henry Ford

As the coordinator and co-chief scientist for this cruise, I was able to witness nearly every aspect of this cruise materialize, from conception to execution. By the numbers, the cruise was a great success. Our science party represented eight institutions and collected samples for a total of sixteen different laboratories from more than ten institutions. Despite some initial delays (e.g. leaving Tuxpan 48 hours behind schedule due to equipment shipping delays) we were still able to retrieve water measurements, water samples, and sediment samples from 37 of our planned 50 sites. This is in addition to deploying the instruments twice at five priority sites and only missing retrieval of sediments at one out of twenty priority sites. But numbers can only say so much about the success of a cruise.

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R/V Justo Sierra Log-Travis Washburn

My name is Travis Washburn, and I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.  My research focus is on deep-sea infauna, or the small worms, crustaceans, and mollusks that live in the mud on the deep seafloor (benthic communities).

There are many different animals that live in the sediment, some can thrive in areas that have low oxygen or are contaminated by oil and other chemicals, while others will die.  Thus by examining the animals that make up the communities at specific locations we can begin to determine whether the areas above them are healthy or not.  I am using the benthic communities to help assess the damages done by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the deep Gulf of Mexico.

During this cruise we are examining the benthic communities around the IXTOC wellhead which produced a large spill off of Mexico close to 40 years ago. By doing this we hope to learn about the changes we may expect in the future around the DwH wellhead.

Today just so happens to be my 32nd birthday, and I thought it only appropriate that I write the blog for today. While it is a little disappointing that I cannot have a beer today, being out at sea with a good group of scientists, and by now my friends, more than makes up for it. I actually got a cake with candles, and per Mexican tradition took a large bite out of the cake before cutting it. I am still trying to get the last remnants of icing out of my beard.

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R/V Justo Sierra Log-Rachel Kalin

4 August 2015:

 

It is August 4th and days are already starting to blend together. Time is only relative to mealtime and deployment times.

 

My name is Rachael Kalin and I am part of the core transferring team. I am a student at Eckerd College and am the lab technician for Dr. Gregg Brooks. We work with short-lived radioactive isotopes, namely 210Pb, in order to determine sediment ages within the past ~100 years. We also determine texture and composition of the sediments using grain size and carbonate analyses.

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R/V Justo Sierra Blog-Will Overholt

2 August 2015:

 

Day 3 on the Justo Sierra and everyone is starting to figure out their roles. It was a bit of a rough start. At the first site I almost dropped a precious core, and one of our instruments (an oxygen sensor) was not working correctly. By now though, we’ve sorted out the kinks and are beginning to act like a well-oiled machine.

 

I should back up a bit, my name is Will Overholt and I’m interested in mud, specifically the bacteria that live in mud.

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R/V Justo Sierra Log-Dr. Isabel Romero

You can follow Dr. Isabel Romero on twitter, @IsabelR0mer0

 

1 August 2015:

 

Good seas keep us on track!

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R/V Justo Sierra Log-Nicola Zenzola

It's been 2 days at sea and I still have the will to keep searching for answers.  This is not my first research cruise, but there is something about the open sea that makes it look like a brand new undiscovered place.  The sea always hooks me in.

So far, we have been to 3 sites SL26A-250, SL26A-750 and IXNW-1600, and collected about 36 sediment core samples.

My shifts are from 12:00-4:00 AM and PM, and my primary deck operation is using the oxygen probe and conducting micro extrusions. I collect oxygen concentrations down core to make an oxygen concentration profile and investigate microbe activity in each sediment layer. Working the night shift has proven to be amazing, not only because it is cooler, but because marine organisms come out. Last night I spotted a couple of squid and 2-3 flying fish. Each day is different at sea, you just don't know what we are going to discover in the sediment or what we might encounter.

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Podcasts from The Loop

The Loop is a series of podcasts which take an in depth look at C-IMAGE research. Partnering with Mind Open Media reporters Ari Daniel Shapiro and David Levin, our researchers share the importance of their studies and how they help our understanding of oil spills. David and Ari have produced eight podcasts and have more in the queue. The podcasts are linked below. Plug in and learn about our research!

Listen to More Podcasts!