I was a participant on VISIONS’13 and am fortunate to be a participant in VISIONS’14 as well. Last year, on VISIONS’13, the Co-Chief Scientists were Dr. John Delaney and Dr. Deb Kelley. John and Deb are marine geologists, with John’s focus being on deep-sea volcanic activity and Deb’s focus is studying how submarine volcanoes and rock alteration processes support life in the absence of sunlight. When the ROV ROPOS was diving last year, John and Deb would come in for the beginning of the dive, and then would ask if someone in the group observing would come and get them when the vehicle reached the ocean floor. To them, the ocean floor was where the important action was happening.
This year, on Leg 2 of VISIONS’14, the Co-Chief Scientists working with Dr. John Delaney are Dr. Kendra Daly, and Dr. Michael Vardaro. Kendra is a biological oceanographer with the University of South Florida who investigates aspects of food web interactions, biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem dynamics, and Mike is research professor at Oregon State University who specializes in Deep-Sea Biology. When I have observed these two scientists in the control room watching the progress of an ROV dive, they are glued to the screens, watching the water column during the descent, looking for specimens of biological significance. When the ROV hits the ocean floor, they ask if someone in the group would come and get them when the vehicle is back in the water column.
The contrast between the various scientists and their individual foci serve to further emphasize the breadth of scope this Ocean Observatories Initiative encompasses. The ocean is a complex ecosystem, which when combined with the atmosphere, controls and is responsible for the environment we experience on land. So all in all, it does truly take a village, of Engineers, Biologists, Chemists, and Geologists, to focus on and try to improve our knowledge base of the incredibly beautiful, and all powerful Ocean!