Fiji/Lau Expedition
May 15–June 3, 2005

Please visit the Ridge 2000 website for additional information.

May 21, 2005

Today we again sampled at Tui Malila an area previously studied by other American scientists. They marked the site with numbered floating cylinders anchored to the bottom by a metal weight. The collecting has been rich and diverse. One tubeworm (image on right) in the vestimentiferan group (big name, big worm) was measured at 2.8 meters, the longest described so far. Usually the tubes are much longer than the worm, but this fellow was nearly as long as its tube (totally tubular). Five representatives of another type of tubeworm were brought up. These have heavier tubes made of chitin the same molecules that give crabs and insects their crunch. These worms were possibly 100 years old or more (no one knows for sure).

A vent region with multiple black smokers.

The dense mussel beds with squat lobsters.

We have been seeing a lot of shrimp (image on left) and squat lobsters. Generally, the difference between a lobster and shrimp is as follows: 

Lobsters tend to be benthic creatures (walk on the bottom) and are somewhat flattened from top to bottom (dorsal-ventrally) Shrimp send to walk and swim and be flattened side to side or laterally.

Lobsters come in three general groups: Maine lobsters (most familiar) have two large pinchers and are mainly found in the NE U.S. (Think of Maine, a large bib, drawn butter, and fresh baked bread). Spiny lobsters are the longest. They lack claws and are found in warm and cold waters. These crustaceans also delight the gastronomically inclined. Squat lobsters are small (up to 10 cm. or so), live in shallow or deep waters and can swim briefly. These guys have long thin claws, swim with their arms extended forward and flap their abdomens to move backwards. When disturbed, they flick their abdomens and shoot upward then spread their appendages and parachute gently back to the bottom.

The shrimp we are finding swim around usually close to the bottom. They are much more active swimmers. Long sensory antennae constantly flick about. The species we are encountering are numerous yet do not inspire food fantasies.
–Todd Bliss

Robbie updating his spread sheet programs.

Fred and Lizzy sort through  sediments looking for worms.

Akapei Vailea, The Tongan observer, watching Ana dissect the long tube worm.


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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)