Fiji/Lau Expedition
May 15–June 3, 2005

Please visit the Ridge 2000 website for additional information.

May 15, 2005

On a calm, gray, humid Fiji afternoon, the RV Melville quietly pulled away from Suva harbor without well-wishers or fanfare. Aboard is a scientific team of 24, a cadre of 10 Jason pilots and a ship's crew of 22. Equipped with the most advanced deep sea sampling equipment available, this nineteen-day expedition will collect, describe and genetically analyze animals and microbes endemic to deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

The first order of business was a safety meeting conducted by the Melville's captain, Wes Hill. Captain Hill's intelligent, friendly, yet commanding presence assured everyone that we were in competent hands while aboard. He covered everything from emergencies, to water management to trash sorting. The Melville strictly adheres to the international treaties regarding at-sea waste disposal. After the extensive orientation, we were given a tour of the equipment that will link us to the deep-sea communities, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason II. Owned and operated by the world famous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) of Massachusetts, Jason II has the capability to explore the deepest depths of the world's seas. This engineering marvel with its series of 7 cameras, 7 lights and 2 collecting arms can grab, slurp, scoop and core animal and mineral samples to depths of 6500 meters. In addition, the ROV can sense temperature, depth and conductivity of sea water. The Jason II is not a permanent resident of the Melville. Able to be moved from ship to ship in seven 20-foot cargo containers, Jason II and its control room have been aboard the RV Atlantis, RV Revelle and other research vessels. Jason I, Jason II's predecessor, was used to explore the wreck of the Titanic.
–Todd Bliss

For some information about who's aboard and what they are hoping to find please visit Objectives.


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This expedition has been made possible by National Science Foundation grants to Dr. Robert Vrijenhoek (NSF OCE-0241613) and Dr. Cindy Van Dover (NSF OCE-0350554)