In October 2014, Ian, Kalia, Elliot and Jason participated on a research cruise from San Juan to Bermuda on board the R/V Atlantic Explorer (BVAL-98). The purpose of this cruise was multifold: 1) collect dominant hyperiid amphipods along the cruise track; 2) collect sympatric copepod taxa for viral discovery and prevalence; and 3) perform viral decay experiments to understand longevity of amphipod and copepod viruses in ambient seawater.
The adventure began when the team arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 4 October 2014 via various routes – Ian was delayed thanks to US Airways until after midnight!
Made it to the boat! R/V Atlantic Explorer in San Juan
Kalia and Jason do the Gumby Suit thing…
The cruise eventually set off on 5 October at around 10 am. Sampling occurred daily at each of the BATS Validation stations (roughly every degree of latitude between San Juan and Bermuda) and comprised: 1) a 30 minute zooplankton tow to collect hyperiids and copepods (and any other interesting mesozooplankton which we encountered!); 2) filtering seawater collected via the flow-through system for free viral abundance; and 3) collecting water for decay experiments, which occurred every 3 – 4 stations along the track.
During the cruise we collected a total of 562 individual animals, including a myriad of interesting hyperiid amphipods, copepods, larval fish (for use in a projected study of the future), along with 80 virioplankton samples, and 4 decay experiments.
Check out this cool video of a plankton tow… from a plankton tow perspective!
After 5 days at sea, we made dock at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. We were wondering why the captain was in such a hurry to get back to the dock, but one look at the weather forecast revealed that there was a hurricane brewing, and that it would hit Bermuda very soon. So after leaving the ship and having a bit of fun for the first night back on land, we were awoken to the incredible sounds of a hurricane bearing down on Bermuda:
Check out video from BIOS of the hurricane: http://youtu.be/nTBnNG4vtz4
Our flights canceled the following afternoon, the team decided to check out Bermuda itself, which boasts pretty amazing history!
Gateway to St. George’s Bermuda
After a day of sightseeing imposed by the hurricane we eventually found passage on Air Canada home. After a brief moment of concern caused by one of the team’s passport being eaten prior to the cruise by a dog (!), we finally made it onto our flight from Toronto to Syracuse, which was the smallest plane most of the team had ever been on.