The MLML-MBARI Library

By Sheila Baldridge, Joan Parker, and Jim Harvey (27 April 2016)

periodicals in trailers
The periodical shelves in the old library on the second floor of the Beaudette Building.

 

Every good educational or research institution has an excellent library. And it is not just the books, periodicals, maps, records, tables, chairs, and connection to information that make it excellent, more importantly it is the librarian. MLML has been fortunate to have three excellent librarians: Doris Baron, Sheila Baldridge, and Joan Parker. These three have provided a level of service that has served our faculty, researchers, and students well. In fact, probably every M.S. thesis in the MLML-MBARI library has an acknowledgement to the library staff, and most every thesis defense includes a final slide that thanks the assistance the student received from the library. Science cannot function anymore without electronic access to information. Scientists can now write manuscripts in the Antarctic, on a plane, from an office, or almost anywhere because journal articles or references are now attainable with a few pushes of a button. But that happens seamlessly because there is a librarian making the right moves behind the scenes (often with some help from IT services too). But the librarians also are the lifesavers when the system cannot find or does not have the needed document. It has become legend the ability of the MLML librarian to find these needed documents, whether hidden on our own shelves, in a distant library, or somewhere in a distant location.

One of my favorite stories regarding the library service at MLML was the system we had when Sheila Baldridge was the MLML librarian and her husband Alan Baldridge was the librarian at Hopkins Marine Station. If someone at MLML needed a document that Hopkins had, then Sheila would call Alan, the document would be brought home that night, and the next morning it would be delivered to MLML. Best inter-library loan system in the world.

Doris ____
Doris Baron (MLML’s first librarian) in the old library, upstairs above the shop.

 

Sheila Baldridge joined the MLML staff as librarian in September 1978 and retired in September 1994. She replaced Doris Baron who took early retirement. As Doris had already left when Sheila arrived, Sheila was eternally grateful for the help of students Susan Chinburg and Steve Locy who had worked in the library with Doris and who knew the ins and out of working with San Jose State, etc.

Sheila and Alan with Shiela B
Alan and Sheila Baldridge standing next to the R/V Sheila B, named after one of our outstanding librarians.

 

Sheila Baldridge remembers:

When I arrived the library was in its original location on the inland side of the Labs, upstairs above the shop. One of the highlights each year was having the Open House Puppet Show in the library with me praying mightily that the floor would not collapse under the weight of all the extra people.

On November 29/30 1984 as part of the remodeling of the Labs., the library moved downstairs to new space at the front of the building. Books and journals were passed hand-to-hand down the stairs along the hallway up more stairs to the new space with Sandi O’Neil, library assistant, taking them one by one from the old shelves and Sheila putting them in place on the new. What could have been a huge chore turned out to be remarkably easy. Faculty, staff, ship’s crew, shop staff all helped and we had a BBQ party in the evening as a “thank you” for everyone’s hard work. [Andrew DeVogelaere wrote a blog about this event, entitled: “Library move demonstrated community spirit“]

oldlibmove1
Moving the library.

 

Part of the new space was in Palmer Beaudette’s old office. It was a large room, wood paneled with a sailfish on one of the walls and a view out over the beach to the Bay. A comfortable and interesting place to study especially in the summer when clouds of shearwaters often swirled offshore in the late afternoon.

reading room in paneled Beaudette
The library in the seaward side of the Beaudette building.

Sheila’s memories of the Big One:

And there we happily stayed until at 5:04 on October 17th 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. It seemed like the whole world was shaking. Windows broke, the lights went out, books came off the shelves and there was an unbelievable gap of about a foot between the floor and the wall on the Bay side of the library. I could look down and see the sand. After the shaking stopped, those of us in the library climbed out of the window in the librarian’s office as none of the doors would open. Some of us gathered at the Blue House and as the sun went down on a beautiful evening, the light, with all the dust in the air, was strangely surreal. Someone played a guitar and we all sat in silence and shock as the impact of what had happened began to sink in. It was a traumatic time for us all. The island was cordoned off and the next day we stood at the far end of the bridge and looked at our broken home not being sure if we would even be allowed in to remove equipment, research notes, library books and journals. One of the heroes of that time was Jon Raggett, a structural engineer, who after a careful survey, and some shoring up, took the responsibility of letting us go in when no one else would. [Previous blog on the earthquake was called The Day of the Quake]

MLML seawall and scape spot
MLML building after the 1989 earthquake. Notice the space between building and the deck.

 

And then they came, students past and present, with their families and friends, an army of people together with a fleet of U-Haul trucks and hundreds of boxes and we did indeed get everything out . The library was boxed up and each box was handed out through a window onto a truck and hauled off to Salinas down the old dirt road behind the dunes – the bridge having been declared unsafe. And there the library stayed for ten long years. First in two classrooms on the San Jose State satellite campus and then, moving for the third time, across the parking lot into two trailers.

moving the lab after 1989 earthquake
Emptying MLML after the earthquake. The far windows were part of the library.

Between these two moves some of the book/journal collection was housed in an disused brick building at the Sugar Plant in Spreckles. Going there was always “interesting” – with clouds of pigeons overhead and the thought hovering in the back of my mind –“what if there is another earthquake??” Running a marine lab from trailers twenty miles inland was not by any means ideal but as always the spirit of Moss Landing shone bright and clear. We managed and somehow students studied, did research, and graduated just like they always had done.

 

trailers in Salinas
For nearly 10 years MLML was in trailers in Salinas.

 

Joan Parker joined the MLML faculty in 1994, coming here from CSU Long Beach.

Joan Parker in front of Salinas trailers
Joan Parker standing in front of one of our Salinas trailers, the library a far cry from the ocean and its next reincarnation.

 

Joan Parker has listed a number of highlights for her time as the MLML librarian (1994  – 2015):

  1. Acquisition of the marine library from California Department of Fish and Game (now CDFW) with support from the Packard Foundation. Books and journals were boxed, put on pallets and shipped via trucking company to CSUMB where they were staged for distribution to MLML, MBARI, Hopkins, UCSC, MBA, NPS and UCSC.
  1. Agreement between MLML and MBARI to share library services. The MOU was signed by Gary Greene and Marcia McNutt before MLML moved back to Moss Landing.

MLML-MBARI library banner

  1. Moving into the new facility was obviously a highlight but also a lot of hard work. Volunteers from MBARI and MLML took books and journals off the shelves in Salinas, put them on rented book carts and wrapped in plastic for the move. Boxed material on pallets from storage in Salinas was added to the CDFG pallets. Over 400 boxes were waiting to be unpacked.
New library with sun
MLML library in the new building. Salinas River and Monterey Bay in distance looking out the windows.

 

  1. Somewhere in the library workroom is a wooden memento put together by Aldo after he completed putting shelves in the wooden casing in the rotunda. Every single one was different so he was frustrated and amused that each had to be individually measured and cut.
  1. My best memory is the scores of students over the years that raised money for the library (winetasting!), valued the resource, and occasionally moved in.
(Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)
Katie Lage, new MLML faculty member and librarian.

 

With Joan Parker’s recent retirement, we have hired a new faculty member and librarian, Katie Lage. Katie comes to us from the University of Colorado Boulder where she was associate professor, map librarian, and head of the Earth Sciences & Map Library. At CU Boulder, she directed a branch library that serves students and faculty in the disciplines of geological sciences, physical and human geography, and environmental studies, and atmospheric and oceanic sciences. She received her Master of Library Science degree from San José State University. Katie’s research in the field of library and information science concentrates on the organization of and access to digital geospatial data. Katie is eager to join the Moss Landing Marine Labs and MBARI communities as our librarian and excited to continue to expand the Library’s integral role in marine sciences scholarship.

A Plea by Jim: In the photos below you can see the old and new library side by side. The thing to notice is that the tables and chairs are identical.

Old and new library
The old library (circa 1985) and the new library (circa 2005).

One of my pet peeves (OK, I have a few), is that we have such a spectacular library but some of the furniture is from the old building and some even from a penitentiary. Now, I know you are thinking, penitentiary furniture might go well with being a graduate student but I think we need to change this image. So we have started a fund-raising campaign to buy new furniture for the library, just go to this website. Please donate what you can, and hopefully you can see your endowed chair when you come for the 50th Anniversary celebration. Thanks.

new leather chair
Type of chair we would like to get for the MLML-MBARI Library

MLML Director, Dr. Jim Harvey, comments in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on the high number of orcas spotted in Monterey Bay

About two dozen orcas have been spotted hunting in Monterey Bay since early April. Dr. Jim Harvey comments on the recent orca sightings and their hunting strategies.

Follow this link to learn more: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/20160419/high-number-of-killer-whales-spotted-in-monterey-bay

An orca breaches in Monterey Bay on Thursday. Photo by: Michael Sack, Sanctuary Cruises 

The Good Pirate John Martin Seizes the R/V Cape Florida

By Kenneth Coale (20 April 2016)

(An expanded excerpt from the John Martin biography1)

John in a tie
John Martin

 

John Martin was the lab’s third director, but in many ways, its first oceanographer. He arrived at a time when there wasn’t a proper oceanographic research vessel and this posed something of a glaring deficiency.   John applied himself to remedy this institutional shortcoming in much the same way he tackled other problems in his life: with brilliance, patient determination, and a knack for turning its resolution into a solution for somebody else’s problem. John himself would become such a problem.

Martin Nybakken Broenkow
Bill Broenkow, Jim Nybakken, and John Martin.

 

John Martin’s ability to view problems from multiple perspectives was a great asset to not only his science, but also to Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. But a research vessel is a big thing and a pirate of the 70s and 80s had to be sophisticated. The first step was to get himself elected, and ultimately chair the Advisory Council of the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), the multi-institutional governance body that advises the National Science Foundation (NSF), Navy and other Federal Agencies on the use, improvement, and scheduling of the nation’s fleet of research vessels. At the time, there was a huge gap in the coverage of the Nation’s fleet of research vessels as coordinated by UNOLS. Only a few, large R-1 universities (doctoral universities with highest research activity) with oceanographic programs, operated the majority of the UNOLS vessels. These included Woods Hole/MIT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of Washington, to name a few. Yet, from Martin’s position on the UNOLS Council, he had a bird’s eye view of the research fleet and the efficiency with which each vessel was operated and maintained.

The second step was to acquire a discarded UNOLS vessel from a large R-1 university and show NSF that MLML could operate it and maintain it. The R/V Cayuse was transferred from Oregon State to MLML and was operated from Moss Landing for several years. Yet the Cayuse was small and bouncy, and not up to task of a larger vessel (see Flaming Heads blog). At the same time, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) had recently retired their R/V Acania and were in need of a vessel to support their Oceanography and Meteorology students. John, with the help of his friend, former student and colleague Bruce Robison at UCSB and the Chair of the NPS Oceanography Department, showed that the majority of requests for ship time came from scientists who didn’t have access to the larger ships, not the big R-1 operating universities who ran them. This grated against Martin’s sense of fairness, yet buttressed a righteous cause. John and Bruce conspired, then lobbied hard for a more equitable distribution of these vessels where they were most needed.

Cayuse
R/V Cayuse

 

John Martin always did his homework and presented a compelling argument to NSF for Monterey’s need for a research vessel. The Monterey Bay was becoming a powerhouse of oceanography. John argued the importance of MLML’s location, its proximity to other marine institutions including those of the CENCAL Consortium (UC Santa Barbara, USC, NPS, Hopkins Marine Laboratory, USGS, and UCSC). At the time, the closest UNOLS vessels were located at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Oregon State University, both a two-day steam from Monterey. MLML’s recent track record of important oceanographic research (including VERTEX), and success operating the R/V Cayuse made it an ideal institution to operate a regional class vessel. Martin didn’t stop there; he also wrote a very detailed description of the boat he wanted. The University of Miami, one of the largest UNOLS operators, ran three research vessels and was having trouble maintaining all of them. Together, Martin and Robison lobbied NSF through the UNOLS Council, arguing that the R/V Cape Florida was a national resource and should be deployed where it was needed most. Remarkably (or by design) the R/V Cape Florida fit Martin’s research vessel description to a tee. They eventually persuaded NSF to reallocate the vessel to Moss Landing.

Pt Sur in ML Harbor
R/V Point Sur in Moss Landing Harbor.

 

One problem that stood in the way was the Moss Landing Harbor Master, James Stillwell. Stillwell convinced his board of directors that since Moss Landing Harbor was relatively small and the Federal Channel was relatively narrow, that he would allow the new vessel berthing at K-dock, only if the vessel had a bow thruster. The Cape Florida had no bow thruster, but it did have controllable pitch propellers. Mike Prince sailed the Cape Florida from Miami, through the Panama Canal and up to Moss Landing. By this time, he had a fairly good feel for the controls. The ship steamed into the harbor and stopped 10 yards parallel from the dock. Mike then, in front of a crowd of spectators and board members “walked” the ship straight sideways until she gently kissed the dock. It was a sight to behold. Upon witnessing this, Harbormaster Stillwell remarked, “Well, I’m glad to see you got that bow thruster”. Shortly thereafter the Cape Florida was renamed the R/V Point Sur.

John Martin had an exceptional ability to go into situations as an underdog and challenge the status quo. By thinking logically and making detailed arguments, Martin was able to take on deep-seated traditions in both oceanography and in programs like UNOLS and change them. Never before had a perfectly good research vessel been taken from one institution and reassigned to another. Perhaps Martin was so convincing because he had overcome such impossible personal adversity that he exuded credibility, even for the incredible. Who was NSF to say that this could not be done?

The R/V Point Sur went on to be what many consider the most effective and efficiently utilized UNOLS vessel in the fleet. It was used in the later VERTEX cruises and for early testing of the IRONEX cruises and served not only scientists from across the nation, but an estimated 10,000 oceanography students put to sea on her decks. The R/V Point Sur made headlines recently for its hugely successful 5-month trip to Palmer Station in the Antarctic Peninsula and for her forays into the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. The R/V Point Sur was “the little vessel that could” and in many ways emulated the qualities of the little institution John was helping to build. He had taken possession of a fumble from a much more powerful team and was steaming to the end zone at 10 kts. The pirate John Martin had seized a bountiful prize that enriched not just his institution, faculty and students, but the central coast and scientists from around the nation.

Pt Sur in Antarctica
R/V Point Sur in Antarctica.

 

1) ­­John Holland Martin. From picograms to pedagrams and copepods to climate. 2015. The Class of MS 280, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. MS 280, Scientific Writing. Instructor: Kenneth Coale, Students: Alicia Bitondo, Suzanne Christensen, Catherine Drake, Will Fennie, Stephen Loiacono, Gabriela Navas, Gillian Rhett, Kristin Walovich, April Woods and Sara Worden. Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography, Bulletin, November, 2015. 19 pp.

 

And Just Who are Mother Nature’s Brightest Crayons?

By Roger Helm (14 April 2016)

It was a typical cold and foggy spring morning as Jim and I loaded the fishing gear on the M/V Orca, MLML’s smallish open deck work boat. The year was 1978 and Jim was working on his Master’s thesis concerning the life history of blue sharks in Monterey Bay. Always wanting to spend more time out on the bay, I eagerly agreed to help him catch a few specimens for his research.

RV Orca
The mighty motor vessel Orca

 

Happily for my typically sea queasy stomach, the tide was near slack and the rollers flowing into Moss Landing’s harbor were gentle and widely spaced. With little breeze, the fog shrouded us as we chugged offshore in remarkably flat calm seas. After a couple hours we found ourselves over brilliant azure blue pelagic waters. Along most coasts, pelagic waters and the critters that abide there can only be reached after traveling tens of miles offshore. In Monterey Bay, which is incised by a mile-plus deep submarine canyon, these deep waters are accessible only a few miles offshore.

Jim figured we had gone far enough offshore to attract some blues and had me start chumming, periodically tossing fish carcasses, blood, and entrails into the water. As we idled along chumming, the fog started to clear and soon we could see Santa Cruz some miles to the north and make out Pacific Grove far to the south. It was turning out to be an absolutely gorgeous day on the bay, the kind of day that reminded both of us why we felt so blessed being graduate students at the lab.

After a time, our chumming efforts were having the desired effect. A few blue sharks were lazily swimming around our boat and in the flat calm seas we could see the dorsal and caudal fins of several more blues slowly making their way up our chum line. We watched in a state of awe as more and more of these slender blue-backed man-eating sharks peered up at us with their large coal-black eyes as they gracefully knifed their sinewy bodies through the water with lazy strokes of their powerful upswept tails[1]. With the bright sun overhead we could easily see into the crystal clear pelagic waters and discern at least a couple dozen blue sharks crowded around and under our little Orca, enjoying the fruits of our chumming.

[1] Blues are known to eat just about anything they can find in the upper reaches of the pelagic waters where they roam, including survivors and not from ship and plane wrecks.

blue shark photo2 from web

Having fully achieved our first aim, attracting a bunch of blue sharks, we now moved to phase two, getting several of these man-eaters out of the water and into our boat[2].   Blue sharks, like most fish, are not the brightest crayons in Mother Nature’s coloring kit. To catch a shark all we had to do was reach over the side of the boat and dip a sardine skewered with a large hook into the water; almost immediately a shark would inhale the sardine. As one of us pulled hard on the thin steel cable attached to the hook, the other gaffed the shark and together we swung the shark up and over the side and into the open deck of the Orca. Once on board the sharks would powerfully thrash around trying to sink our boat or their teeth into anything close by until one of us was able to reason with it, typically by employing a spiked baseball bat.

[2] How dumb is that? But, wait it gets even dummer!

Blue shark.
Blue shark.

 

With so many sharks around the boat we were having quite a time hooking and landing one shark after another. Pretty soon sharks were lying all over the Orca’s small deck and we were approaching the upper limit of what Jim would be able to process upon our return.   Since his research question called for a range of ages, which we assumed would correlate well with the size of the sharks, we started being more selective in our hooking attempts, particularly trying to entice the biggest shark in this sedate feeding frenzy to grab one of our baited hooks. Each time this big gal (3+ meters and no claspers) swam under the boat we tried to put the sardine directly in her predicted path on the other side and each time a little shark would shoot out from underneath the boat and snarf the hook. With the limited open deck space on the Orca now littered with flopping or dead sharks, and very slippery from all the blood, we decide to stop catching.

Helm pulling in blue shark
Roger pulling in a blue shark with a gaff.

 

For an oft-seasick marine biologist, it was near nirvana hanging out in the calm, clear, sparkling waters of the bay under a warm sun and being surrounded by dozens of man-eating sharks. The long and slender blue shark is elegant and graceful in the water and quite distinctive with its long pectoral fins, narrow caudal peduncle, and tall falcate caudal fin. After idly watching many blues rub up against the side of the boat I started reaching over the side and touching their silky smooth backs and occasionally briefly holding onto their dorsal or caudal fins as they cruised by. Since the sharks did not react to my initial overtures I got a little bolder and began lightly grabbing and pulling on their dorsal fins and sometimes partially lifting up the smallest sharks. I soon found myself lightly sliding my hands down the back of a shark and briefly closing them around the caudal peduncle and giving a slight tug that disrupted the shark’s forward motion. Each time the shark would spasm its body and rapidly shoot forward away from the boat. Jim was watching with mild interest and we both were amused by this new sport.

blue shark photo from web

For reasons I cannot explain, I suddenly decided to see what would happen if I firmly latched onto the caudal peduncle and tried to drag a shark into the boat. As the next shark cruised by I slid my hands down his back, tightly gripped them around his caudal peduncle, and gave a mighty heave. Much to my surprise and delight I actually lifted much of the shark out of the water. The shark was equally surprised, but not at all delighted. She started threshing her powerful body back and forth in a frantic effort to swim away. With considerable difficulty I continued to hold on as with each powerful sinuous movement of her body I was being thrown wildly side to side. For a couple of moments Jim just sat there mesmerized by what he was seeing and then he burst into hysterical laughter watching me being beat to a pulp. Finally, I yelled at him to help me and together we pulled the shark free of the water, although the shark was now tossing both of us back and forth. We pulled and pulled and almost got the shark in the boat, but her long pectoral fins caught on the gunwale railing and we couldn’t seem to dislodge them. Finally, we coordinated a huge heave ho and her pectoral fins popped free as did our feet on the slippery deck. We land on our backs on the deck, among all the other sharks and after flying through the air the shark we just captured by hand landed across our legs. And boy was she upset! We quickly scrambled to our feet and jumped up on the narrow gunwale railing as our latest acquisition proceeded to thrash and gnash and flop and bite at us. Rapidly moving all over the deck, this 2-meter long female succeeded in stirring up several of the other sharks, which apparently had been faking their death.

Roger Helm and caught blue shark
Roger Helm with a recently caught blue shark, Jim Harvey on the right.

 

Soon, led by their healthy and very angry leader, we had a whole platoon of sharks gnashing their teeth and wiggling and thrashing their bodies around on the small deck below us. When after several minutes this mosh pit was still vigorously sloshing around and slamming their tails and jaws into our little boat, I could see Jim looking over at me and calculating ways to somehow slip the knucklehead he brought along into the middle of this melee. I was thinking if I ended up in this mosh there was a pretty low probability the sharks would reach up and pass me around to safety. Fortunately for me, our new arrival finally began calming down and the previously dead sharks stopped doing their zombie thing and returned to being dead. Much to the dismay of the many hungry sharks still swimming around the Orca we were finally able to jump down into the boat from our precarious perch on the railing, rather than slipping overboard into their pitiless eyes. After finally subduing our latest guest, we fired up the engines and chugged back to the lab. Jim was not very talkative on the ride back, but at least by the time we tied up he had stopped glowering at me. Although Jim conducted several more collecting trips he never seemed to require the assistance of his most experienced knucklehead … er… um, I mean bare-handed shark catcher.

haul of blue sharks
Our catch for the day. [Jim’s note: Current students will notice that the cart in the picture still exists and is still in service at MLML].
Digital Camera
The 2-meter long 60 pound blue shark Roger and Jim caught bare-handed and hauled aboard the M/V Orca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moss Landing: a poem

By Ed Stark (MLML student in 1969)  [8 April 2016]

Moss Landing lifering

One day the cosmic chef

Looked into an empty freezer.

A few odds and ends remained:

Sand and water, dead kelp and fog.

He made the beaches of Moss Landing

As an afterthought to an orgasm of creation.

Who could love

A place of infinite beaches

Wreathed in fog,

That makes the sun a celebrity

In an endless troup of gray days,

And the wind

That whips the sea

In patterns of white lace

When the fog burns away.

There is so much to see and feel.

In constant flux

The mosaic of the offerings on the beach

Through a backdrop

Of kelp, driftwood, and dead sea creatures,

Shore birds pirouette and weave

Before the waves;

A ballet of nature,

In which there is no conscious repetition,

Only change.

In an area so small,

With no supermarkets or suburbs,

Whose only claim to fame

Is being on the outskirts

Of the artichoke capital of the world,

My mind is stretched thin

By the complexity

Of the many forms of life

That inhabit Moss Landing,

Tenuously nestled under the foreboding shadows

Of the P. G. & E. stacks.

ML from water

[Note: This poem was sent to us by Chuck Versaggi who stated that Ed Stark was a cohort in the 1969 MLML class. Chuck wrote: ” Ed was as an avid surfer who enjoyed the waves and beaches of Moss Landing. Both he and his male dog (I forgot his name — it was probably “Thor” or something supremely masculine) were fearless in the face of nature. One day there was a young California Gray Whale that ventured into the Moss Landing Harbor mouth. I happened to be nearby (I think I was in a study group laying an intertidal transect for an ecological study) and witnessed an amazing moment: Wearing his neoprene suit from an afternoon of surfing, Ed and his dog jumped from the jetty rocks into the harbor water in attempt to swim up to the whale. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The whale appeared to be oblivious to its terrestrial visitors as it continued to swim up the under the Hi 1 overpass with Ed and his dog struggling to keep up…”

Elkhorn Slough from air

Bill VanPeeters remembrance:

I remember Ed Stark.  The guy was large and strong and his dog… it was one of the largest black Labs I had seen (more than 120lb) with a tendency to jump over board whenever the boat stopped.  I remember how difficult it was to deadlift a wet 120lb dog up and over the gunwales of the boat.

Well one day we got  a call into the lab that a Whale Shark had been seen off the beach near the Lab.  So Gregg Briggs, Myself and Ed Stark and probably either Chuck Versaggi or Dave Lewis decide we are going to look for it in the school boat the Orca.  As I recall, a boat Dave Lewis referred to as a 30ft. round bottom, singularly screwed research vessel in one of his research papers.  Ones of us called Dr. Morejohn and reported the sighting.  Dr. Morejohn asked us to try to bring it in for research purposes….in other words harpoon it and tow it in.

So we load the boat with a harpoons. A rifle or two, and floats.  Greg Briggs, myself, Ed stark (probably his dog) and either Dave Lewis or perhaps Chuck at the helm.  The idea being if we spotted the shark, Greg would stand on the bow, harpoon the shark and I would kick the floats over the side and no one was certain what would happen next.  That was the plan.  Out of the harbor we went and sure enough just a little south of the harbor was a beautiful whale shark as long as the boat, and almost awash on the surface, just outside of the breakers.  I am assuming it was Dave Lewis at the helm, but whoever it was they went south of the whale and came up from  outside of the whale shark putting the shark on our port side and outside the surf zone.  Gregg got ready with the Harpoon, and I behind him ready to kick over the coiled line and floats once the harpoon was set. As we came up on the shark, and I think the helmsman put the boat in neutral.   I could see the beautiful pattern of white spots and checks on the indigo back of the shark, as we coasted up on the shark.  I was not sure, and I’m not sure any of us were, of the ethics or morality of what we were about to do.  Just as we were getting within range to set the harpoon the engine coughed a couple of times and quit. We watched with mixed feelings as the shark swam off, I think a little disappointed in missing the “adventure” and also grateful to have missed it.

Now we were just outside surf zone, the motor down, the deck fouled with harpoon gear, floats and line and slowly drifting into the surf.  We hadn’t bothered to check the anchors when we left, they weren’t rigged.  What to do?

Ed Stark without a word, grabs the boats painter, jumps over board and starts swimming the boat out of the surf zone with the painter in his teeth.  It gave us enough time to rig and set the anchor, and restart the engine.  Just another day at the lab.

 

 

Dr. Kim Stacy in the Benthic Lab publishes on deep sea hydrothermal vent communities

Peripheral vent communities in the Western Pacific are poorly known, and currently under threat from deep sea mining. We found abundant carnivorous suspension feeders, with distinctive spatial distributions of endemic species. Graduate student Kenji Soto is investigating the causes for this pattern in his thesis research. 

Follow this link for the full paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/maec.12313/full