On Tuesday, we visited Jewfish Sink, a site we have been studying since 2003. It is located in the Gulf of Mexico about half a mile offshore, a mile south of Aripeka, FL. The sink is about 200 ft deep. See Garman et al. 2005 and 2011 for details. The purpose of the dive was to collect sediment, water and wall biofilm samples from the deeper anaerobic portion for Madison and Chelsea's projects. Bobby and I made two dives. The first was down the center of the sink to the debris mound at 154 feet where we collected sediment. After a one hour surface interval we made a second dive along the eastern wall to 112 feet where the biofilm is particularly thick and we were able to collect plenty of biofilm with large plastic syringes. We also collected water column samples. Although the surface water is well over 80 degrees this time of year, the deep water in the sink was only 66 degrees so we were glad to get into the warmer water for decompression. One of the things we want to see is how similar the microbial communities in this offshore sink might be compared to those in similar saltwater coastal sinks found on shore. Madison and Chelsea provided boat support. It was a beautiful day, glassy smooth with no wind. There were dozens of dolphins feeding in the area and we saw a number of large rays and sea turtles as well. We left the lab at 8 in the morning and returned around 6 at night. All the other students were in the lab when we returned to help process the samples well into the night. It was a fantastic day and a successful trip!
As I write this, we are waiting to see where Hurricane Irma will be heading as it will likely have an effect on the lab's activities next week. Hopefully all will be well.