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Polar Mail from the Oden

Letters: August 5

Is there anything about the expedition or trip that you’re going to miss once you all return to your respective homes?

Thanks for your time,
Beaverton, Oregon

Even though I'm missing my family more than anything and am looking forward to getting home, there are a few things I'll miss about being on the Oden:

  • The otherworldly, ever-changing view out my window—endless fields of ice and melt ponds, fogbows, polar bears..
  • No commute!  It takes me about 40 seconds to walk to my office on the ship—that's a lot quicker than my 2 1/2 hours round-trip commute awaiting me at home..
  • An escape from reality..  Instead of 100 different things competing for my attention—bills, mowing the lawn, buying groceries—I only have one job—taking photos of the science in action.
  • Three hot home-cooked meals a day and I don't have to do the dishes..
  • And lastly, I'm going to miss my new friends from the science party and crew.

Chris Linder

I was happy to read that you found an unknown orange material on a rock. I know you wrote that there were no spicules present, but aren't there some sponges that don't have spicules? (I seem to remember that from graduate school). What about the possibility of it being a bryozoan? What are your plans for the specimen when you return to shore?

Also, were you able to sample the shrimp? Tim- can you see if there is a resemblance to Atlantic species of shrimp? Here's to hoping more discoveries come during this last week! Keep up the great work.

Go for it!

Carolyn Sheild
7th grade Science teacher
Clarke Middle School
Lexington, MA

Dear Carolyn,

As you rightly remember, not all sponges have spicules. Those that do are often referred to as silious sponges. Others can be calcareous, and host a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The unknown orange material we have found is made up of filaments, likely both microbial communities and their inorganic byproducts. I believe we have seen two bryozoan individuals on this trip. They are known to be from modest depths on the Arctic seafloor. We were unsuccessful in suctioning a shrimp from the seafloor, which is a very hard thing to do, but we came close several times. There appear to be two species here, one that resembles Atlantic vent-shrimp shrimp species much more than the other, and one which resembles those found in the deep sea. The plan for all of the organisms (e.g., sponges, microbial mats, amphipods, etc.) is to take them frozen back to the lab at WHOI and obtain DNA sequences from genes that will tell us who they are and how they are related to similar species in other parts of the world.

Thank you for your continued interest in our discoveries.

Tim Shank