Welcome to the web site for Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group! Reide Corbett and J.P. Walsh from East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute lead the team.
Check out our research in/on wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, shelves and groundwater.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunrise, Nutrients and a Treadmill

This morning was another gorgeous sunrise. The pictures of the sunrise
above are from 3:15 a.m. As the sun starts to come up it creates the
most amazing colors against the blues and whites of the icebergs. This
morning is very brisk with the air temperature at -1C and the wind chill
at –6C. We still have really amazing weather with minimal seas and
wind. These conditions have helped us get ahead of schedule for our

One of the samples that we take with every CTD cast is for nutrients.
Nutrients are fundamental requirements primary producers use to assemble
cell material. They are important sources of fuel for the basis of the
food chain. To sample for nutrients we collect a small water sample
from the CTD Rosette while wearing gloves and a clean tube in an effort
to keep the sample as pure as possible. The sample is collected in 60mL
syringes and pumped through a filter that will catch any sediment or
large organisms. The filtered water is stored in a 60mL bottle and
placed in a -80C freezer. The analysis of nutrients will not take
place on the ship, and the samples will be shipped back to the United
States where they can be processed in a lab with the proper equipment.
As part of this research we hope to better understand what nutrients are
available in the coastal waters off of the Western Antarctic Peninsula,
and how those waters move.

In our Smith Mac grab sample we had some interesting animals again. We
are working to find out what they are exactly, but one looks a lot like
a heart urchin and the other some type of worm. They were found over
400 meters down.

Before my science shift last night I had the unique experience of
running on a treadmill while the ship was underway. The rolling of the
ship added a bit of challenge to what I normally find as a somewhat
boring task, and the view of icebergs passing by while running also
helped keep it interesting. We should be headed into Palmer Station
tomorrow, and I am ready to set foot on the Antarctic Continent.

-David Sybert
UNC-CSI Educator


  1. Alyssa, an 8th grader, wants to know if the creature that looks like an urchin is indigenous to this part of the world or could it be in other parts of the ocean?

    Shelby wants to know if there are any noticeable traits on the creatures/animals that help them to survive in their environment?

    Austin wants to know if you were to travel around Antarctica, how many time zones would you travel through?

    Have you guys seen any mid ocean ridges or sea mounts?

    We would all like to know, when you figure it out, what these "animals" are!

  2. Scenery is amazing. Good questions from students!

  3. Alyssa,
    Heart Urchins are found in other oceans as well. The one pictured here is most likely Abatus elongatus. They live around the Antarctic Continent, however there are other species of heart urchins that are found in the other oceans.

    The Heart Urchin has very dense spines that keep sediments away from the urchin's surface to maintain a water-filled space surrounding the urchin when its buried it the mud. The urchin uses this water for respiration (to breathe).

    If you were to circumnavigate Antarctica you would travel through all 24 time zones, according to one of the ship's mates.

    I will let JP weigh in on the ocean ridges question, that is his area of expertise.

    The pictures are of a heart urchin and a sea cucumber. The sea cucumber has eviscerated or spit out his guts, which is what you see in the picture.

    Thanks for all the questions!
    - Dave Sybert

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