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Fieldwork

Great Bahama Bank, R/V Quest

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Crew members study a whiting
Whiting on Great Bahama Bank: Crew members study one of numerous whitings, milky white patches of suspended calcium carbonate sediment, on the Great Bahama Bank (note clear, darker water at top and upper left of photo). Lisa and Kim measure in situ CO2 air/sea gas fluxes in whitings using a "floating bell" from the Zodiac (foreground) while the film crew shoots the scene (boat in background). The 190 ft R/V Quest is equipped with numerous smaller research vessels housed onboard including a 38' Blackfin, 25' Boston Whaler, 17' Zodiac, 2 submarines, and a helicopter. In addition to film crew, the Quest has a scuba team that provided underwater assistance assembling the SHARQ.
Lisa Robbins, Kim Yates, and Gene Shinn joined the Australian Production Company Beyond Productions aboard the R/V Quest on June 9-14 to participate in the filming of a documentary on the Caribbean.

The focus of their cruise was to document scientific investigations on Bahamian whitings and sedimentological features of Bimini Island and its coastal waters. Whitings are large patches of fine-grained calcium carbonate sediment suspended in the water column that occur on the Great Bahama Bank and in other shallow tropical seas around the world. Their origin has been the subject of scientific controversy for many decades.

Lisa, Kim, and Gene have been researching whitings on the Bahama Bank for several years. They are currently funded by the Department of Energy to investigate the role of planktonic cyanobacteria and unicellular green algae in biogenic precipitation of whitings sediment and the effects of this process on atmospheric CO2 and carbon cycling.

Performing geochemical measurements in whitings has traditionally been a difficult task during daylight hours and is impossible at night. These features are very dynamic, constantly moving and changing shape due to wind and tidal currents, and cannot be tracked at night.

Kim and Lisa successfully utilized a large, submersible incubation chamber developed at the St. Petersburg Field Center (the Submersible Habitat for Analyzing Reef Quality, or SHARQ) to capture and isolate a large mass of water from a whitings event and to perform 24-hour, in-situ geochemical measurements. Such a task has never before been accomplished.

Gene led an underwater expedition along the road to Bimini, a Holocene limestone formation of beach rock near Bimini's coast that resembles a road from the air. Local Bahamian lore holds that this was once a road from Bimini to Atlantis. Gene also participated in numerous helicopter flights over Bimini and the Bahama Banks to describe and document geologic features of the area.

Lisa, Kim, and Gene's work will be featured on the Discovery Channel in January or February.


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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Grand Canyon

Gulf of Mexico Cruise

Georges Bank Benthic Habitat

Channel Islands

Lake Mead

Cruise News: R/V Gilbert

Great Bahama Bank

Outreach Nat'l Ocean Sciences Bowl

Meetings FL-AL-MS Geological Surveys

North Carolina Co-op

North East Mapping Organization

Atlantic Offshore Minerals Assessment

Staff & Center News WHFC Staff News

Visitors

New Staff

Publications July Publications List


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