Today’s dive is a PIT dive, or Pilot-in-training dive, when a senior Alvin pilot, Jefferson, takes over as submersible driving instructor for trainee Nick Osadcia, who has his first day as Alvin co-pilot today. Every fifth dive is a PIT dive, which allows seamless on-the-job training for all new Alvin pilots. Implicitly, the scientists donate an observer spot on each PIT dive, but this is a small price to pay for a well-trained and experienced Alvin group.
Traditionally, we have used PIT dives as opportunities to collect hydrothermal vent specimens and invertebrates, in particular for our Mexican collaborator, Javier Caraveo-Patino of CIBNOR, Centro des Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste. Javier is looking for a diverse spectrum of hydrothermal vent animals that represents the food web as completely as possible, for fatty acid and stable isotope-based trophic analyses. The collection duties are assigned to his collaborator, Thorsten Brinkhoff, of the Institute for the Chemistry and Biology of the Oceans at Oldenburg University, Germany. Some coring is part of the program as well; Nick should enjoy comprehensive training opportunities, and we need all the samples that we can get.
Both Nick and Thorsten wave at the sparse but select audience before heading off to Rebecca’s Roost. We are looking forward to their return in the late afternoon!
After several days of hard work, some scientists enjoy their mid-cruise break. Here Brett, Roland and ship tech Emily play a round of “Seven Wonders” in the library; Roland is the self-professed board game enthusiast among the science crew.Next door, Rebecca Rutstein is leading an afternoon art seminar in finger turkey design; the colorful birds will decorate the mess hall for Thanksgiving dinner. Here she is supervising the efforts of Alvin pilot Antony Tarantino and Ship tech Allison Heather.The results are quite good, even in comparison with the creative peak of this style maintained by the students of Carrboro Elementary 3rd grade.
The results of a PIT dive are sometimes hard to predict, but this PIT team is cool as cucumbers – they collect not only a rich haul of animals at Rebecca’s Roost, but also complete a white/yellow/bare transsect of microbial mats cores at Cathedral Hill, as Rebecca’s Roost turns out to be too rocky for coring. The white mats are really something to see. In particular the microelectrode group will be delighted!