The Beacon

Blog Tags: Toxic Hydrocarbons

Day 25 + 26: Jellyfish and Canyons

Oceana's Cheryl Eldemar removes test strips from the line. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

The crew aboard the Latitude has successfully completed the experiment to map the oil plume around the Deepwater Horizon. They successfully deployed 16 buoys up to 6,000 feet deep, and were able to retrieve 90% of the buoys and hundreds of sensors.

Oceana’s Pacific science director Dr. Jeff Short will now analyze the presence and concentration of toxic hydrocarbons surrounding BP's Deepwater Horizon wellhead, which noone has yet done.

Here’s Will’s final report, and stay tuned for the next leg of the expedition, in which the crew will use a deep-sea ROV to explore important habitat areas near the Deepwater Horizon.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another hard working day notched into the belt. After today the Oceana team can check three more moorings off the list. Today started in similar fashion as the last few days: wake up early, eat breakfast and hoist a mooring. What separated today from the others were jellyfish and canyons.

To this point the Oceana team has been relatively lucky in terms of accidents and painful encounters. Yet today after an “easy” first set, we went for another, and boy did we get a surprise. Everything was normal at first, and then it happened. Jellyfish started floating past the line. Minutes later, as the crew pulled the line through the winch, jelly slime began to pass through hands. Unnoticed at first, soon people began to squirm. 

Jellyfish sting their prey using nematocysts which are their stinging structures located in specialized cells called cindocytes. In our case the stinging structures of the jellies wrapped around the long line and in some cases stuck. As the crew pulled in the line the cindocytes transferred from the rope to the gloves of the team. Minutes later the fun ensued. When nematocysts pierce the skin they inject venom. The venom is very uncomfortable, and sometimes requires medical assistance. Luckily for us no such medical assistance was needed, but we all immediately washed off and changed clothes after the set.


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