Searching for Microbial Mats
Once on the sea floor, Bruce started moving around to search for the microbial mats. Alvin moves a little like a blimp - you give it some momentum in a particular direction and it will keep going. It turns very gracefully. Bruce very expertly found a region of microbial mats and proceeded to use the Alvin arm to insert a set of core sampling cylinders into the soft sediments adjacent to the ghostly white microbial mats. In 10 minutes he had them all in, and in another 10 minutes recovered 8 samples out of the 10 placed. He handled the arm very adroitly and was able to pick up small snails without breaking their shells - placing them in a small white box for recovery. Very impressive piloting!
We went for a little tour of the sea floor and saw crabs, red fish with huge eyes, many clams, eels and other creatures. It is full of life down there! At one moment a small shark swam by - we were below the depth where submarines would be crushed and these fish are just as happy as Larry.
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Postcards from the Field: Postcards from Alvin