After yesterday’s maintenance work, Alvin was back in the water for a fantastic dive today. Pilot Phil Forte, microbiologist Craig Taylor, and microbial biogeochemist Jeremy Rich traveled down to the vents.
The trio located the Vent-SID on the bottom, moved it to the site that had been scouted out on a previous dive, and triggered the start of microbe sampling and incubation in the Vent-SID’s chambers. They also brought back a beautiful chunk of vent chimney covered in Alvinella worms and gathered mussels for analysis of microbial biofilms on the animals’ shells and symbiotic microbes living in their gills.
As the sub surfaced, I tagged along with a team of swimmers riding out to meet it in a Zodiac launched from the ship. We skimmed across the water (a bumpy ride even on a relatively calm day) and watched as Alvin broke the surface.
The swimmers hopped into the ocean and began prepping the sub for recovery. They attached a safety line to the science basket, so that if the recovery got rough, the day’s samples wouldn’t be lost. As Alvin approached the ship’s stern, they put out a sea anchor to help stabilize it, communicated with the pilot to help him get the sub into position, and attached the two lines that lift Alvin out of the water.
Once the sub was back aboard, first-time Alvin diver (and native Wisconsinite) Jeremy received his ceremonial buckets of ice water wearing headgear specially prepared for the occasion by some of his shipmates.