The humidity has eased up a lot today. The sky is bluer and we sweat far less when working outside. The ocean remains remarkably calm with clouds and islands perfectly reflecting in its surface, and on a day like this I can think of few other places as beautiful as the Celebes Sea. We also saw four sperm whales today. They were spouting and diving deep, probably feeding on squid.
Amidst the beauty and the whales, we continue to work hard and around the clock as we deconstruct the Celebes through our research and observations. Another all nighter for many of the scientists, with a ten hour ROV dive to 3000 meters that finished at 2:00 a.m. We are discovering likely new species, but the final determination will come later once we are back on shore and can confirm our photographs and DNA analysis. Suffice it to say, the deep sea here is revealing many secrets.
Except for the amazing animals we are finding in the deep, the floor of the Celebes is unremarkable. Like most flat deep areas of the world's oceans, it is covered in sediment made up of fine particulate matter that has drifted down for millions of years, making a kind of moon dust or deep sea mud. As
the ROV lands, it creates a cloud that rises up and blocks our view for a few minutes until it settles. Except for steep drop offs and seamounts, there are few rocks visible in the deep sea, because they were long ago buried by this ooze. The ooze is comprised, among other things, of silica remnants
from oceanic plants called phytoplankton. Phytoplankton acquires silica as it grows and uses the silica to build the cell walls. When the plankton dies, the silica remains, and that portion that is not taken up again in the growth of new plankton in shallow water drifts down in this misty sedimentary rain at a rate of about 100 feet a day. It is these ancient microscopic skeletons that we see all over the seafloor mixed in with other material.
Tucker Trawl deployed in Celebes to 3,000 feet
We are not doing an ROV dive today and instead deployed our 10 meter Tucker Trawl, which is a large net that we will lower to 3,000 feet to collect, hopefully, a new variety of organisms not yet collected by the ROV, including deep water fishes.
Greg and ROV chief pilot Toshi Mikagawa in the ROV control room before a dive