Fiji/Lau Expedition
May 15–June 3, 2005

Please visit the Ridge 2000 website for additional information.

May 30, 2005

This day’s dive was devoted to finding worms and other invertebrates. Jason II searched and searched but few polychaetes and their relatives were to be found. A serpulid worm was collected on a rock. Some interesting sponges were taken and the ever-wanted mussels were corralled into the mussel pots. However, a couple of exciting creatures were found.

One of the most amazing sites thus far was the appearance of the “Dumbo” octopus (image on right). Virtually nothing is known about this fantastic organism. This octopus has never been seen is this part of the world. Similar species have been sighted along the East Pacific Rise but not collected or described. This wonderful animal gave us quite a show swimming almost 2000 meters below the surface of the ocean.

Another interesting find was a small worm like organism that is actually related to limpets and chitons. This unusual gastropod has a file like tongue called a radula and secretes delicate calcareous spines made from the same material as limpet shells. The Class name is Aplacaphora, which means without plates or shells. It freely roams about in the cover of the mussel beds. These two fascinating observations lead us to the two most interesting international observers aboard the Melville.

Accompanying us on this scientific odyssey are official representatives from host countries, Fiji and Tonga (image on right). Susana Lalanabaravi is a quiet, peaceful, stately presence aboard the Melville. Susana works for Fiji’s Department of Mineral Resources. She is aboard to observe operations and collect samples for Fiji’s geology museum. When things get exciting, Susana is a pleasant and calming presence. Susanna’s counterpart is from the Kingdom of Tonga. Akapei Vailea, Tonga’s official observer, works for his country’s Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources. He too is on board as the official representative of his beautiful island nation. Quiet, husky and helpful, Akapei also aids with the launching and retrieval of Jason II. When off duty, Akapei can be found in the library enjoying a movie or two. 
–Todd Bliss

Sunken wood provides a perch for these galatheid lobsters.

The two laser dots are 10 cm apart.

Shana and Anders preparing a sample for DNA analysis.

Taylor, Josh, and Kristie share a free moment in between mussel pots.


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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)