RRS Discovery Cruise 243, 11th October to 22nd November 1999. Sensory Biology in the Deep-Sea: Anatomy, Physiology, and Molecular Biology

Partridge, Julian C.; Boorman, Benjamin; Edge, David. 1999 RRS Discovery Cruise 243, 11th October to 22nd November 1999. Sensory Biology in the Deep-Sea: Anatomy, Physiology, and Molecular Biology. [unpublished], 83pp. (Unpublished)

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
D243 Report.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (727kB) | Preview


RRS Discovery cruise 243 had two principal objectives: to collect deep-sea animals for a variety of biological studies ranging from physiology to molecular biology, and to deploy benthic landers. The landers are described in Section 9.1, and the midwater and benthic trawling in Section 9.2. A complete list of the stations worked, with times, latitudes and longitudes, is given in Section 10, and a track chart for the whole cruise is shown in Section 11. Trawling was conducted first and foremost in order to provide specimens required for work associated with NERC grant GR3/B1212 “Analysis of light-induced interactions in the deep-sea: bioluminescence and its relation to vision, reflectance and fluorescence” to Professor Peter Herring, Dr Julian Partridge, and Dr Peter Shelton. Of equal importance to the success of the cruise, however, was the provision of biological samples for a range of inter-related studies. Descriptions of these studies are given in Section 9.3. Throughout the cruise a narrative (Section 6) was compiled to document, in diary format, the main scientific activities on board ship. It also records information about factors which affected work, such as the weather, and problems with equipment. The narrative is more or less a list of notes rather than proper prose, and was written during the cruise, documenting events as they were planned, as they unfolded, or after they had happened. In consequence, the tenses of verbs tend to vary in a haphazard way, for which I apologise. During the cruise, the Discovery “Rough Log” of biological specimens was maintained by Professor Peter Herring. A précis of some of the information from the Rough Log is incorporated into the narrative as a record of some of the most common, and some of the most unusual, animals that were collected. This is necessarily a biased record. Nevertheless, it may be useful to others planning or conducting similar cruises to the areas worked during D243, particularly those targeting the pelagic macrofauna. As the narrative shows, D243 was plagued by problems with the main winch. At one stage, early in the cruise, the severity of these problems made it likely that the cruise would have to be terminated prematurely, without any trawling having been undertaken. That this situation was reversed is due to the determination and hard work of the RVS technicians who were on board the ship. To them, Phil Taylor (RVS Technical Liaison Officer/TLO), Kevin Smith (RVS Mobilisation Officer/MO), Paul Duncan, and Rhys Roberts, we are much indebted: without their labours the cruise would not have succeeded in the way it ultimately did. Inevitably, the “science time” of the cruise was affected by the winch problems (see Section 8) and was contributory to a decision not to work the slope of the African continent, which had been part of the original cruise directive. This was, however, to some extent compensated by the generally stable weather conditions in the work area. Although we encountered conditions more extreme than are indicated in the ‘Africa Pilot’ for the region during October/November (anticipated average wind force 3), at no time was work stopped by poor weather. This in itself partly justifies the relatively long passage time to the work area. The main reason for working in the region, however, was the high diversity and abundance of midwater and benthic macrofauna in this region of upwelling and high surface water productivity. This, in combination with the trawling methods used, which included the use of the relatively large RMT25 net and a closing cod end on the RMT8 net, ensured that the requirements of the scientific personnel for specimens were well met. The scientific complement of the cruise consisted of 23 people, ranging from graduate students to professors, from five countries and eleven institutions. In addition, the cruise also hosted a team from the BBC Natural History Unit, who were on board to film for the “The Blue Planet”, a television series about the seas which is due for release in 2001. That this diverse group (who are listed, with their contact details, in Section 2) worked so well together, and were steadfastly cheerful firstly in the face of the winch problems, and later in the face of the relentlessness of trawling and catch processing, is very much to their credit. As Principal Scientist on D243 I am extremely grateful for their hard work and support in the run-up to the cruise, during the time at sea, and in its aftermath. In particular I would like to single out for thanks Ben Boorman and Nigel Merrett who, as scientific day and night watch leaders, ensured that the fishing and the supply of specimens continued without a break. D243 was also notable for one other event: it was Peter Herring’ last cruise before his retirement from the Southampton Oceanography Centre. Without a doubt, none of the participants on D243 would have been there but for Peter, such has been his impact on ocean going biology. Indeed, the format of D243 very much follows the successful formula developed by him on numerous previous cruises, including some to the Cape Verde region of the West African upwelling. If a cruise report can be dedicated, this is dedicated to him.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Date made live: 14 Aug 2020 08:04 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...