Adding new meaning to the term “distance learning,” an international research team led by University of Delaware (UD; Newark) marine scientist Craig Cary spent 21 days on the deep-sea expedition, “Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure.”
The research team included scientists and graduate students from UD, University of Southern California (Los Angeles), J. Craig Venter Institute (Rockville, Md.), University of Colorado (Boulder), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City), and University of Waikato (Hamilton, New Zealand).
The Extreme 2008 research team included sceintists and students from various Universities. For more information about each member, "Meet the Scientists" here. Photo courtesy of Dr. Craig Cary, chief scientist and professor, University of Delaware (Newark) and University of Waikato (Hamilton, New Zealand). Click for larger image.
The expedition departed from Manzanillo, Mexico, on Nov. 10, 2008, to explore deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés, according to the Extreme 2008 Web site. The 22-member research team and 31-member crew spent the expedition on the 83-m (274-ft) vessel Atlantis. Researchers took the submersible vessel, Alvin, down to observe life and collect samples at the hydrothermal vents for analysis. Both vessels used are owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, Mass.), the Web site says.
The program involves students at home through an interactive Web site containing blogs, dive logs, video clips, photos, and interviews posted daily during the trip. Students also were able to write to the scientists, as well as design experiments and participate in a virtual science fair. For the 2008 program, more than 20,000 students from 350 schools in the United States, Aruba, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Great Britain, and New Zealand participated, according to the Web site.
Research focused on marine viruses and other protists living around the vents and their roles in the food chain. “Most of the work conducted on the trip involved collecting of samples for genetic analysis,” Cary said. “So we collected unique samples to be analyzed back in our home laboratories.” Eric Wommack, UD associate professor and principal investigator on the expedition, collected viruses for genetic analysis, and David Caron, a Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies professor of biological sciences, collected protozoa to study their role in the food chain, the Web site says.
“For years, the vents have been explored with little to no attention to viruses and protists,” Cary said. “Yet because these organisms eat bacteria, they have the most dramatic effect on the bacterial communities that support the vent system. Our research programs are among the first to focus on these remarkable scavengers.”
| ||The vessels Atlantic and Alvin, shown above, were used to conduct “Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Craig Cary. Click for larger image.|
The 2008 program, coordinated by UD’s Office of Communications and Marketing and sponsored by UD and the National Science Foundation, is the sixth in the university’s “Extreme” series. For more information see www.expeditions.udel.edu/extreme08.