MIGRATIONS A Journey of Art and Science in the Santa Barbara Channel
Strictly speaking, a migration is a movement from one part of something to another. Weâ€™ve come to know it as mass movements of animals in search of something different, but we also recognize migrations in our culture, in our moods, and in our relationships. Change is rarely unidimensional, and in this nuanced spirit, we created a collection of poetry, visuals, illustrations, scientific graphics, and creative writings that celebrate and scrutinize things that migrate: from you and me to our tiny friends living in the cold deep seas.
A JOURNEY OF ART AND SCIENCE IN THE SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL
DEAR READER In your hands, you hold a snapshot of an experiment we conducted on ourselves: what happens when you bring together a team of artists and oceanographers for a week at sea? This whole mess started as a sud-soaked conversation with Dustin at some forgotten San Luis Obispo bar after a gig at a donut shop. ‘What if?’ turned into ‘when,’ and soon this pipe dream grew out from the back of our minds into a collaborative $50,000 proposal with more friends added and many, many months of detailed planning. We set out to communicate aspects of the Santa Barbara Channel that hadn’t been studied before in rigor: namely the daily activities of plankton populations that historically have been sampled just once a month. We planned to sample them four times a day, every day.
aspects of the ecosystem that could possibly benefit? What can we learn from this that might motivate future change in the way we plan for wildfires? We hope that no matter how you enjoy our magazine you’ll be reminded that art matters. Science matters. Environment matters. And maybe someday they can all pull up a seat at the table, eat some pasta, uncork a cheap bottle of cabernet, and shoot the breeze a bit while they unearth mysteries and banish our societal problems.
Until then, it is unlikely that this much-needed renaissance will just happen to us. We’ll have to get to work. Jerry Brown thinks more fires are in our future and the data-driven predictions support it. We’re with Jerry. Let us all show up And then, days before we set off, the in real ways to be the best to ourselves, Thomas Fire broke out. In that time we our environments, and our communities. found ourselves scrambling to contribute In addition to a call to action, we hope something of use to our community: you. the next pages will be a little brain snack Fire is a powerful metaphor for destrucas much as they are a sumptuous buffet tion but also for new life. Indeed, while for your senses. We hope it will perhaps we were preparing to leave on the R/V inspire you to pursue a curiosity of yours Sally Ride, the Santa Ana winds were that at first seems unnecessary, unattainblowing us smoky kisses that carried wild- able, or quixotic. All have been said of this fire ash into our study site. We hope you’ll endeavor. And, as you can see, we did it appreciate, as we did, seeing individual anyway. cells for the first time (pages 26+27) and wondering if they were able to grow in Talk soon, these typically ‘boring’ December seas Kelsey Bisson because of the ash fall (pages 74+75). In the midst of all of this tragedy, are there
A STUDENT-LED RESEARCH EXPEDITION TO EXPLORE MICROBIAL OCEANOGRAPHY IN THE SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL
The Santa Barbara Channel is a highly productive region of the California Coast supporting valuable fishing industries and thriving tourism not only because of its rich kelp forests, but also because of its phytoplankton blooms, both of which can be viewed from Earth-orbiting satellites. For various regions in the global ocean, it has been shown that populations of phytoplankton are intimately linked to those of zooplankton (which prey upon them) and marine viruses (which can infect them). These biological groups are thought to influence the timing, extent, and demise of phytoplankton blooms, which would have cascading effects beyond phytoplankton, like the supply of nutrients and carbon to the kelp forest, to the deep ocean, or to filter-feeding baleen whales. Though the Santa Barbara Channel has been a heavily studied region of the ocean, an artifact in part due to its proximity to UCSB, how zooplankton and marine viruses influence the ecology of the region is surprisingly under- studied.
GAD GIRILNG / KELSEY BISSON / NICHOLAS HUYNH
ACIDD: ACROSS THE CHANNEL INVESTIGATING DIEL DYNAMICS
QUESTION: How and to what extent do top-down processes influence biogeochemistry on short time scales in the Santa Barbara Channel? HYPOTHESIS : Zooplankton grazing and viral activity govern diel variability in trophic interactions and biogeochemical cycling in the Santa Barbara Channel. The cruise led by Bisson and Huynh is an opportunity to use a large, state-of-the-art research vessel as a stable â€œfloating lab,â€? even in unfavorable weather conditions, to detail the interactions between the microbial communities in the Santa Barbara Channel. Huynh and Bisson are not only involving students and faculty at UC Santa Barbara, they are also drawing expertise from scientists who specifically study zooplankton and marine viruses from other institutions in the US, like Elizabeth Harvey from the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Pete Gaube and Kyla Drushka from the University of Washington. They plan to use both the internal and external sources of expertise to train other UCSB students and to effectively measure productivity rates, grazing and infection rates, movement of zooplankton between the deep and surface ocean, stocks and diversity of microbial communities, water circulation, and water chemistry. What they learn from these measurements and this cruise may help to fill gaps of understanding in the region, and perhaps inform new foci of study for the Santa Barbara marine science community. 13
DR. IVIA CLOSSET
DR. KYLA DRUSHKA
DR. PETE GAUBE
DR. LIZ HARVEY
DR. ANNA JAMES
DR. HEATHER MCNAIR
THE ACIDD TEAM DR. DAVE VALENTINE
OUR SCIENTISTS AND ARTISTS ABOARD THE R/V SALLY RIDE 15
STATION TO STATION A WEEK- LONG LOOP ABOARD R/V SALLY RIDE.
WHAT WE DID:
In December 2017, after more than a year of very careful and detailed planning, a group of graduate students led an oceanographic research trip to the Santa Barbara Channel. Ship time, costing nearly 300K, was funded from the UC Ships Funds program and is the first time in the program history that UCSB students received the award. We added 3 artists (Gad Girling, Dustin Hayes, Celia Jacobs) to produce creative, artistic narratives from the science at sea. The overall goal of the cruise was to collect observations and conduct experiments to understand how the Santa Barbara Channel changes over the course of a day, which helped fill gaps in the way the channel is traditionally sampled oceanographically. Three weeks prior to the expedition’s departure the Thomas Fire ignited. Coupled with persistent offshore winds, the fire created a plume of smoke, ash, and soot that extended greater than 1000 km offshore, intermittently inundating the Santa Barbara Channel study site with ash. This unfortunate circumstance presented a unique opportunity to study the real-time investigation of the impact of ash deposition on the biogeochemistry of the coastal ocean. 16
WHY WE DID IT:
A lot of factors contributed to the why of this mission. Maybe it can be chalked up to a debt to ourselves for all the hours spent planning to study the channel, albeit in a different light. Some could say it’s an old fashion game of truth or dare, daring to enter the Thomas Fire’s billowing smoke and continue to search for some piece of truth in the calamity of it all. Perhaps we could call it to a love story hard-coded into our collection of peers and our planet, a yearning to hold on to our sun-orbiting-sphere, to understand, to discover, to protect, to... at the very least, to make an earnest stab at getting more acquainted under the stars, while the sea sings, an incomplete kiss... Maybe it was a little bit of everything. Everyone has there own reasons. Who is to say whose are most righteous? At the end of the day we all ended up on the great Sally Ride, and I’m told there’s got to be some magic in that.
KELSEY BISSON / CELIA JACOBS
SALLY RIDE DUSTIN HAYES
Inching my way up the starboard side I want to sit on the bow of the great Sally Ride be alone with the ocean well after midnight there’s gotta be some magic in that Then I think what if I slip in the pitch black beneath no one would notice I was missing ‘til the morning I would spend my night dying in the womb of the sea and there’s something I love about that I’m watching meteors shower while dolphins splashing green Must be the bioluminescence or the Dramamine And no jerk back on earth would believe what I’ve seen so that renders this a secret moment for me
It feels like I’ve been waiting all my life just to get to the bow of the great Sally Ride it’s like I really did slip and I actually died tell me is this not what heaven looks like? no stress, no mess, just sit on the ground and play chess no, this feels oddly right I must have been a pirate in a past life or a rat on the deck I miss you to bits and I love you to death but there’s no wifi, no service, and I think I deserve this communication with the void is ancient and worthless but this could be my church this could be my purpose and there’s something to be said about that….
DUSTIN HAYES / CELIA JACOBS
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This concrete form, a chapel nave ribs like arches to suspend
GAD GIRLING / AARON BAGNELL
the mortared ceiling of white barnacle stucco Its baleen organ blowing notes to a congregation singing the Gospel of the Channel A church that dives, fluke raised The vanishing steeple
DR. PETE GAUBE / CELIA JACOBS
Much like people, phytoplankton come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. But unlike people, this beautiful diversity of phytoplankton cells is impossible to see with the human eye. Phytoplankton are tiny. Their cells are smaller than the width of one of the hairs on your head. Smaller than the smallest thing you can imagine. Scientists describe phytoplankton as microscopic—literally, you can only see them with a microscope. So they are invisible…until you use the right tools. The Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) is a groundbreaking new tool in oceanography that was developed only ten years ago at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution by Drs. Heidi Sosik and Rob Olson. This instrument combines microscopes with cameras to capture some of the different sizes and shapes of phytoplankton cells in the ocean. First, the cells are magnified through a lens so that they are big enough for us to see and clear enough to discern the details on the cells—the spines, the flagella, the chloroplasts. Then, the cells are imaged with a camera, capturing the microscopic mystery of an invisible cell forever. On ACIDD, we were lucky enough to have an IFCB onboard, which meant that we could take pictures of phytoplankton cells in our field-work and experiments.
These images show the variety and beauty of phytoplankton cells as much as they give us valuable scientific data about the phytoplankton communities in the ocean and in our incubations. The elongated pyramid of Ceratium cells… the scalloped circle of Coscinodiscus, as detailed as a piece of lace…the lopsided horned globe of Lingulodinium cells, which made the water around our ship glow with eerily lovely bioluminescence at night…the frilly edges of ciliates that swam through the IFCB, their hairy limbs flapping in the sea…the neatly linked chain of Chaetoceros, stacked like blocks and surrounded by spines. The splendor of phytoplankton is only visible through this instrument that allows us to take our science to a new level. With the IFCB, we enhance the power of our eyes via the microscope and capture the secret world of tiny cells for everyone to share through images, which we share here with you.
SASHA KRAMER / GAD GIRLING / CELIA JACOBS
CELIA JACOBS / NICHOLAS HUYNH
Image of DAPI-stained bacterium from surface waters (5m). Showing roughly 1,000,000 cells/ml.
DATA FROM A CTD CAST ON DECEMBER 18, 2017 0850H
GAD GIRLING / KELSEY BISSON
MIDNIGHT MIMOSAS KELSEY BISSON
Sleepy sludgy syrup swimmers, these plankton are snobs. A million body lengths is a long way to go just for breakfast. 300 meters was so 2pm, they say. You want the good stuff? You better swim good. You better swim far. Pretentious pricks. But they are right. It’s 11pm and you’re already late. That real good tasty stuff is at the surface. But you already know that, you trendy invisible immigrant. Though I guess you’d prefer being called predator. To be prey would be social suicide. Your empire is our ecosystem. It’s a mad mad microbe world and you eat them for breakfast. We get it, you’re cool. See you at brunch.
KELSEY BISSON / GAD GIRLING
CELIA JACOBS / KELSEY BISSON
RE : MIDNIGHT MIMOSAS KELSEY BISSON The largest animal migration on earth happens every single day in our ocean. Zooplankton travel hundreds of meters every day for their food; if they were in the surface during the daytime they could be seen by predators, but at night the dark seas render them invisible. Zooplankton are tiny (a few hundred microns - millimeters in size), and they weigh very little, making them nearly neutrally buoyant with seawater. To them, seawater feels like a thick syrup that is hard to swim against. They eat phytoplankton, which form the base of the marine food web and contribute half of the oxygen we breathe through photosynthesis.
Phytoplankton population abundance and distribution are driven by the relative rates of cell growth and loss. Microzooplankton are small (<200 um) grazers, and are one of the primary pathways for phytoplankton mortality in the ocean. Therefore, understanding the that microzooplankton consume phytoplankton is 36
integral to understanding phytoplankton population dynamics, marine food web structure, and the cycling of nutrients in the ocean. Measurements of the rate of microzooplankton grazing are often conducted at a single geographic location at a single point in time. While these measurements have been invaluable in our
DR. LIZ HARVEY
MICROZOOPLANKTON GRAZING AND PHYTOPLANTON GROWTH RATES DAILY RATE VS TIME OF DAY
understanding of microzooplankton-phytoplankton interactions, we are still lacking an understanding of how variable these rates are over shorter timescales. Parameterizing this variability will allow for better modeling of phytoplankton and nutrient cycles in the ocean. Diel measurements of phytoplankton have
been made in other studies, but this is the first study, to our knowledge, that has investigated the diel dynamics of microzooplankton grazing. Common grazers observed in these experiments include ciliates and dinoflagellates.
MARINE SNOW SARAH â€œSEA SALTâ€? AMIRI
glass frustules sink with the night. weaving contours through isotherms. a draping of sea flux, over a plundered water column. ghost nets drop with marine snow, Down to the bottom. where the panoply of man resides.
CERAMIC SEA SARAH “SEA SALT” AMIRI
I hold your water in my cup of clay, Salty edges left by air. The sea spits out what it can’t take. The waves exhale paleness and green.
UNTITLED NICHOLAS HUYNH upwelling delivered and the phytoplankton bloomed the water around me sprang to life diatoms are bursting by grazers and phage I’ve waited for something and DOC arrived I’ve waited for something and life arrived but my friends they’ve changed selfishly feasting they’re growing mad the water around me sprang to life I’ve waited for something and DOC arrived I’ve waited for something now its hard to survive 43
We deployed surface drifters daily and followed them to track the same water mass as it moved throughout the Channel. The path of one drifter (red Xâ€™s) is overlain on the surface ocean currents (black arrows), which show the flow at a given date and time.
FOLLOWING THE WATER MASS DECEMBER 21, 2017 14:00:00 PDT
THE WHALE SASHA KRAMER
At first, it is silent. It is silent except for the rush of the sea and the swish of a powerful tail through the deep water, sending bubbles spiraling up to the surface. The silence is peaceful, but ominous. The water down here is dark, an overwhelmingly opaque indigo. The water is cold, even in mid-summer. The light doesn’t make it down this far, so neither does the heat. At the top of the water column, the sea is foamy with the action of the waves, a pale frothy aqua in the streaming sunlight. Deeper down in the water, the colors start to fade from the incoming beams of sun—first red is lost, then green, and finally blue. Suddenly, at this depth, the water looks almost black. But it is quiet at this depth, and the water is almost still. This all-consuming, calm blackness belies the frantic, frenetic energy of the surface ocean. The whale has been swimming in this cold and hostile environment since she left the Southern Hemisphere two months ago. The water there was shallower and brighter, a gleaming turquoise in the equatorial sun. Each winter, following a successful breeding season in the warm seas of Baja, she undertakes this journey up the coast of the United States to the Santa Barbara Channel. This humpback is one of many great whales that enjoys the feeding grounds in the sheltered
Channel each summer: she is joined by minke whales and gray whales, as well as blue whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, and killer whales. Many of the whales that visit the Santa Barbara Channel, including the humpback, are members of the rorqual group (another name for the Balaenopteridae family). “Rorqual” comes from the Norwegian word “røyrkval,” which means “furrowed whale.” All rorqual whales have large grooves along their throats and bellies, allowing their bodies to expand while feeding. This whale continues swimming through the dark water, guided northward by her fellows. Rorqual whales have traveled this route for thousands of years. The humpback whale has the longest geographic migration of all whales: humpbacks of the Southern Ocean have been known to migrate from Antarctica to Costa Rica for the warm water and protection offered in temperate coastal environments. But for this humpback, it is time to return north for the summer. The whale knows when she has reached her destination: as she approaches the Santa Barbara Channel, the water gets shallower. The continental shelf rises steeply, and the whale swims toward the surface, toward the light, toward the opening of the channel.
SASHA KRAMER / GAD GIRLING
It has been a while since this humpback has had a good meal: the sea around the equator, where humpbacks travel to breed and raise their young, is devoid of any food, so she spent her winter in a state of semi-starvation, living off of last summerâ€™s store of blubbery fat. Humpback whales need to calve in warm waters, as a newborn whale has not built up the same store of blubber to keep himself warm. The shock of too-cold water could weaken an infant humpback, and lead to its eventual death. Each winter, humpback whales travel synchronously to the equator. The water is warm, and the young thrive off of their motherâ€™s milk, developing the fatty tissues that will insulate them as they swim north come summer. But there is little food for the adults at the equator, and this whale has been living off of her blubber for months now. Humpback whales consume tremendous amounts of food to sustain their enormous bodies and high energy outputs required for swimming in cold water. Ideally, this whale would be eating 5,000 pounds of food per day. She is ready to fill her empty stomach. The ocean at the equator receives steady sunlight all year. The surface ocean is warmed by the sun, but the sun can only penetrate so far down; the deeper ocean remains cold and uninhabitable for the tiny light-dependent phytoplankton that hold up the oceanic food-web. These single-celled organisms require cold, salty deep water, full of the inorganic nutrients that the phytoplankton need to keep growing and dividing. However, the nutrients are trapped in the cold, deep water and the phytoplankton need to live in the warm, sunny water at the surface in order 50
to photosynthesize. Phytoplankton are the building block of life in the ocean: they are the smallest primary producers, and therefore their health can affect the productivity of the entire ecosystem. When phytoplankton begin to bloom, the bloom can take off in the course of a couple of hours or days, spreading through a geographic region and dying the water vividly. Seen from above in satellite pictures, a spreading algal bloom in the water looks like cream mixing into coffee: the green or white or red swirls of plankton are whirled into the dark navy of the water, driven by currents and eddies to extend outward and proliferate. The equatorial ocean, where this humpback whale spent the colder months, has relatively low phytoplankton productivity compared to the more northern latitudes, where cold, deep water is mixed to the surface each fall and winter. The nutrients in the deep Santa Barbara Channel water come to the surface and sustain phytoplankton growth through the spring bloom, when the water temperature and light availability create an ideal growth environment. By mid-summer, the phytoplankton have consumed nearly all of the available nutrients, and their numbers start to decrease. Slowly, the rest of the food chain follows this same cycle: the peak in phytoplankton leads to a peak in zooplankton, which leads to a peak in fish and also draws the whales. Each year, as the seasons change, so do the species in the water. With measurements of sunlight, water temperature, and nutrient concentration, it is possible
to predict when the spring bloom will oc- tons, and nearly all of this biomass comes cur, and then when the whales will arrive directly from plankton and krill. While early in the summer. not the largest of the rorqual whales (that would be the blue whale, the largest This whale knows that she will find a mammal on Earth, whose heart is the size good meal in the Channel. As soon as of a car), the humpback is still enormous. the nutrients arrive at the sunlit zone of This whale swishes her tail defiantly in the ocean, where ample light allows for the water as she swims up to the Channel, growth and production by phytoplankton, powering herself forward with her strong there is a veritable explosion of life. The tail, the glowing sunlight and the warmth Santa Barbara Channel is one of the most of the water, the greenish haze of an productive ecosystems in the world. As explosive phytoplankton bloom, surround phytoplankton bloom, they make way for her: she has reached the feeding ground. copepods, which look like tiny shrimp with long antennae, full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. A phytoplankton bloom in the Santa Barbara Channel can be dominated by diatoms (round and crunchy, with a silicate shell that remains behind in the fossil record long after the organic material sinks to the bottom of the sea and dissolves) or by dinoflagellates (long and stringy, these are more likely to contain biotoxins and form harmful algal blooms like Red Tide). Copepods are not picky: they will devour either species of phytoplankton as soon as it appears. After the copepod blooms begin, their predators spring into abundance. Small fish swarm the area during a bloom and are able to grow over the next few weeks until they have grazed the population down to near zero. At this point, the fish are also consumed by larger predators, including dolphins and toothed whales, until they are gone and the cycle starts all over again. Similarly, krill, a favorite whale snack, devour copepods and phytoplankton alike until they are fat and tasty, ready for the whales to devour. Humpback whales rely on krill and little fish as a tremendous source of energy: the humpback whale weighs as much as forty
Iâ€™m prey for darkness; Let it swallow me whole and let it render me invisible so that I may be part of it too.
CELIA JACOBS / KELSEY BISSON
Give me your inky black waters and let me swim freely. For when the world turns obsidian I see myself. My backyard seas are chubby tonight, and I brave traffic jams of plankton as I break past the waves. Soon kinetic becomes seen. My dog paddle is the cadence that headlines a bioluminescent concert as the ocean makes small talk with the constellations above. I am honored to sit at their periphery, with these cherished old friends and their cheeky secrets. The cosmos is neutrally buoyant tonight. Who gives a damn about dawn?
AS IS A STREAM MARIAH READING
Being an eco-artist, I care very deeply about the connection between art and science. STREAM is an acronym that has expanded from the original STEM education philosophy, which stands for science, technology, recycling, engineering, art, and math. In todayâ€™s climate, we as humans cannot afford to waste time, energy, or resources. Sustainable collaborations between art and science have the power to build empathy and display the urgency of critical findings about the changing environment. Over the past two years, I have been working with the University of Santa Barbara, California Oceanographers to combine their findings with art and recycling. The waste that is involved in the environmental sciences cannot be overlooked. In a society where single-use plastics are being banned, I am distressed that debris from scientific cruises continues to be burned or thrown into the very same oceans that we are attempting to protect. By forming the science trash (falcon tubes, gloves, containers, labels, etc) into canvases, my STREAM paintings convey the seascapes where the research took place and the tools used, all while drawing attention to waste created across disciplines. 54
MARIAH READING / GAD GIRLING
COFFEE JAMES ALLEN
Alarms. Klaxon. Sleep torn asunder. Bartering. Pleading. Needing more slumber. Mumbling. Grumbling. I get out of bed. Stumbling. Bumbling. A thick fog in my head. Wandering, clumsily, I move to my ritual, Something cathartic About the habitual I gather the beans, Set the water to boil. A moment’s reprieve From this mortal toil. I grind and I churn, To the perfect size A delightful concoction A sight for sore eyes! First grounds, then water Then a subtle twist I think of myself As a Coffee Alchemist
It brews and releases Such a wonderful smell! Clearing the fog In which I once dwelled I press, then I pour Sweet nectar of the gods With this ambrosia I can face all odds From the moment I bring the cup to my lips I understand why They say coffee runs ships No matter our problems No matter the weather We all can sit down And enjoy coffee together And so, emboldened, I speak to the silence: Let’s get some work done! It’s a good day for science!
JAMES ALLEN / GAD GIRLING
We adopted â€˜Sister Schoolsâ€™ from around town, around the country, and in France. We deliberately aimed to include places where there is limited access to ocean education, (i.e., the midwest) so that the students could connect with each other and us before, during, and after our time at sea. We sent the Sister Schools postcards before we went to sea, and they wrote to us with questions. We answered them each day in between science shifts, and created a series of video responses for the students to watch online. The goal was to create a proximal connection to the ocean despite the distance, and to increase transparency of the scientific process. 61
DECEMBER 16 DIARY CELIA JACOBS
The boat left today during a safety meeting, imperceptibly, at 8:00 AM. The scientists had stayed up late securing their gear, strapping in instruments and bungee-cording plastic tubs filled with bottles. Everyone had begun a Dramamine schedule and was drowsy and loopy from it and the past weekâ€™s sleep deprivation. When the boat started moving, it felt like vertigo, like your brain was hovering two inches away from your skull as your head drifted back and forth with the waves.
DECEMBER 16, 2017 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00
In-transit stop in the San Diego Trough for deep CTD/rosette cast (1000m) Recovery of surface drifters Potential CHUMP at slow speed (1-2 knots), however, priority will be to steam back to PnB station after drifter is recovered
CTD/rosette cast #1 (Large volume – variable bottom depth)
Optics – IOP cast #1/ C-OPS cast
CTD/rosette cast #2 (Hydrocast - 400m)
16:00 17:00 18:00
CTD/rosette cast #3 (Large volume – variable bottom depth)
Optics – IOP cast #2
CTD/rosette cast #4 (Hydrocast - 400m)
Midwater trawl @ 2 knots into the wind & CHUMP at slow speed (1-2 knots)
CTD/rosette cast #5 (Large volume – variable bottom depth)
Optics – IOP cast #3
CTD/rosette cast #6 (Hydrocast - 400m)
CHUMP at slow speed (1-2 knots)
04:00 05:00 06:00
CTD/rosette cast #7 (Large volume – variable bottom depth)
Optics – IOP cast #4
CTD/rosette cast #8 (Hydrocast - 400m)
CELIA JACOBS / GAD GIRLING
VISUAL PLAN OF DAY
RACHEL CARSON SARAH “SEA SALT” AMIRI
The land captures the sea, and the surf beats the rocks. A ferocity of being at the edge. where the waves forget formalities, hits your soul and directs you to think. To look at where our ocean basins face. She’s depleting. acidifying. and warming. What can we do? A time to be outspoken.
SARAH “SEA SALT” AMIRI
SARAH AMIRI / GAD GIRLING
A POEM FOR LORCA
opens the moon to a wave, where the sea codes a shore, siren soliloquy, she sings for the night.
TUMULTUOUS SEAS SARAH “SEA SALT” AMIRI
Discontinuous gestures between waves, Sweeping across the intertidal, And then a retraction, Plumes of sand misguided. caught in the next sweep of foam, and then back again. 67
DECEMBER 17 DIARY CELIA JACOBS
I woke up having finished our 16-hour transit to the Santa Barbara Channel and am out on the stern, leaning on the guardrail of the stairway. It’s 7:30 and the sun has only risen a couple inches above the horizon. It’s beautiful, yellow and rose gold light on the water as it slow dances with the ship. But then you see it’s the fire–the Channel Islands, not far off, are covered by a smoky haze that gradients the horizon and the air is barbecue tangy.
filtered, processed, and analyzed. In the first cast, somewhere between San Diego’s port and our Santa Barbara destination, one bottle drips out ash that swirls in a sample container like foreign darkness in a snowglobe.
Tonight I went to the deck to watch bioluminescence light up dolphins and schools of fish as the CTD was dredged up out of the spotlit turquoise ocean. It was cold and the water lapped at the edge The first CTD was cast yesterday at 11:30 of the ship, where it turned into a firework AM and it’s been dropped regularly display of jostled phytoplankton. They since, a giant rig of sensors and 24 bottles sparked and shimmied at every moveopen at either end. The bottles’ caps are ment, spectral green in the finite blackopened while the instrument is on deck, ness of the ocean, trailing the swimming pried open against springloaded action dolphins. In Greek mythology, dolphins and pressure and latched in place. Once were the messengers of the god Apollo. in the water, the CTD is lowered 400 Behind me, the winch whirs as it pulls up meters and as a powerful winch heaves it the CTD, carrying news of deeper water. back up, the caps are fired. Triggered by a computer on the ship, they snap shut with a gunshot slap, capturing a souvenir of water at depth. The CTD is eventually dredged back up and scientists take turns tapping it like a keg. They squeeze plastic tubing over valves at the base of the bottles and siphon the pure ocean water into mismatched glass and plastic bottles, buckets, and vials. The water will be taken back to the ship’s lab to be variously
CELIA JACOBS / DUSTIN HAYES
DECEMBER 18 DIARY CELIA JACOBS
I decided to stay up late to see some of the night shift, scientists working at all hours, a little goofier and more relaxed than the day shift.
a pair of tweezers and begins gingerly removing its organs. The fish died on an empty stomach; it’s no good. Pete grabs another fish and starts over. This time, he pulls a large black flake from the fish’s At one point, I walk into the lab and see a gut. He puts this on a slide with the other crowd of five or six scientists from differ- piece of maybe-ash, tells me, “Let’s go to ent teams huddled around a low power the real microscope,” and takes it to the microscope. wet lab one room over. He says he’s never “Is it ash?” used this one before and leans into the “I think it’s ash.” eyepiece. A few more scientists begin to “How can we tell?” magnet over while he focuses the mi“Can we find the right compounds in croscope. “Take a look at this,” he says, this?” getting up. “What is it?” “Do we have a fish gut expert here?” On the slide is a little black line and dot, Under the microscope, the hair-width like an inky em-dash and period. It’s the piece of ash in its pool of runny liquid is gut of a fish that Pete and Kyla collected fertile, blooming. Phytoplankton, miduring their midwater trawl last night. crons-wide plantlike creatures that fill the The dot was, potentially, a piece of ash. ocean, are floating in view of the scope. It’s hard to tell what is or isn’t ash. It’s They look like fractals, sunbursts, aliens. black, dissolves quickly, and has no one Some have three long, goofy arms, others unique structure. On the water we’ve are covered in small spikes that radiate been seeing it in dusty black clumps on out from their bodies. Some form intricate the surface, surfing carbon particles that lace cages of looping, knotted hairs. On streak the ocean. Here in the lab, we’re this slide, most of them are something not so sure. else–long, sharply angular triangles like perfect teeth. The scientists call out Pete is standing at the microscope as the possible identifications. They pass around crowd disperses. He takes another fish, a stapled packet that sits beside the a shiny myctophid, and begins cutting microscope, filled with black and white into its two-inch-long body with a giant photos and information to I.D. all kinds of aquiline fileting knife he keeps in his belt phytoplankton. loop. When the fish is slit open, he takes
predators at first light. This migration is the largest on earth–the phytoplankton’s travel is the equivalent of us commuting on foot from SoCal to Canada every day. That night, with the beeping ChUMP trailing the boat, was the first time these scientists ever recorded it in the Santa Barbara Channel. They had it: confirmation, like a treasure. A discovery.
Another one: when Dave, Ellie, and Connor went out ash-hunting in the small Tanika, another scientist, pushes the slide boat, they found blackish-red slicks of forward and brings the particle from the what was probably ash bound with other second fish’s stomach into view. The sticky substances. Kelsey, James, and Sascene is once again lively at the edges sha ran a sample of this dark stuff through with a new combination of deeper-water their IFCB, a machine that channels phytoplankton, but is interrupted by three water into a very small tube, pushes one dark smudges, lacy at their edges with a cell through it at a time, and photographs black emptiness inside. each of these individual bodies. When “What do you think of that?” asks Pete, they looked at these photos they found calling over his partner Kyla, first quietly phytoplankton they hadn’t seen anywhere by last name then twice more, lapsing in the surrounding waters thriving in the into first-name urgency. “Because,” he ashy murk, evidence of tiny isolated ecosays, “that looks like ash to me.” systems all their own in the space where fire meets sea. Pete’s question isn’t answered–this work is full of questions and hunches, and This is how it works: does it? Science, people spend months resolving a select when you ask the scientists, is a process: few. Here on the boat, so many cases are a question, thought over, guessed at, and opened, some closed, all thrilling and tested. It’s passed between team members new in the shiny immediacy of fieldwork. and experts and poked at like a fish on a The first night, Kyla and Pete sent down microscope. A fire burns in California and their ChUMP instrument, which sends the ash settles in the water. Our curiosity sounds too high for humans to hear into picks up that ash. It listens to the water. It the ocean and uses the acoustics of their cuts open the stomach. bouncing like echolocation to tell them what’s down there. With it, they found evidence of zooplankton traveling down 120 meters in the evening, sinking with the sun. The zooplankton stick to the surface waters in the nighttime to feed but rush downwards every morning to escape
“Kelsey, come here!” Pete calls out as she passes by. Kelsey studies phytoplankton and their daily migrations, so when she comes into the wet lab she sees something familiar in the microscope, like a gardener entering a new plot–she hasn’t been here before, but she knows which ones are the gardenias, which ones are the asters and daffodils and daylilies. Still, it’s a debate over what these are tonight: broken tintinnids? Something else?
Satellite images of the Santa Barbara Channel from December 4, 2017, to January 11, 2018, as the Thomas Fire dissipated.
TWELVE KNOTS KELSEY BISSON I have to keep moving if I am to be perennial. Liberate me from my seasons, and from any other prescription for change. I have different preparations. Friction is greedy. He begs for belly rubs but he holds me back, to have me for safe keeping so that he can stay put. Curious. When I emigrate from this to that My this comes with me toward all of that. And still I am steaming, shaping, screaming, to be something new. 76
KELSEY BISSON / GAD GIRLING
ESSENTIAL SCIENCE QUESTIONS ELLIE ARINGTON
What is the chemical composition of the ash? Where will the ash go, and how will it behave? Will the ash serve as a nutrient or toxin to phytoplankton? Will the ash serve as a food source for ocean bacteria? Will the ash interfere with small ocean predators? 78
Control Seawater + Thomas Fire Ash
We fed ash to bacteria to see what happened. We found that with enough ash, bacteria removed all the oxygen from the water samples (in sealed jars). 79
0% leachate 6% leachate 12.5% leachate 25% leachate
0% leachate 6% leachate 12.5% leachate 25% leachate
DOES ASH ADDITION TO SEA WATER AID PLANKTON GROWTH? 80
TANIKA LADD / MIKE MANISCALCO
WHICH MICROBE ARE YOU? A POP QUIZ FROM KELSEY BISSON 1. What’s your life motto? a) ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ - Wayne Gretzky b) ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop’ - Confucious c) ‘You know what they say. Fool me once, strike one, but fool me twice…strike three.’ - Michael Scott d) ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’ - Charles R. Swindoll e) ‘It wasn’t me’ -Shaggy
4. When you’re at the beach you can be found … a) sun tanning and reading a book b) surfing the waves, ideally double overhead c) snorkeling in the kelp d) snoozing in the sand e) why waste time at the beach when you could be 100m underwater? 5. Your secret guilty pleasure is …
a) eating cereal for dinner b) stealing toiletries from the hotel room c) watching Keeping up with the a) black Kardashians b) black with a little bit of sugar and milk d) playing hooky c) by the gallon e) Celine Dion d) double nonfat vanilla frappuccino, easy on the foam e) ew, coffee is gross 6. It’s Saturday afternoon. Where are you? 2. How do you take your coffee?
3. You have the hardest time getting dressed for… a) prom. pastel dresses make me mad b) a trip to 3000m - all black isn’t my thing c) school every single morning d) nothing - I am ready for whatever situation life throws at me e) everything. I hate wearing clothes
a) at the gym, working on my fitness b) still sleeping c) lazing around watching cartoons d) eating my weight in pizza e) band practice
KEY FOR SCORING A POP QUIZ FROM KELSEY BISSON 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)
A-5 A-1 A-4 A-5 A-2 A-5
B-1 C-3 D-2 E-4 B-2 C-5 D-4 E-3 B-5 C-3 D-1 E-2 B-2 C-4 D-3 E-1 B-3 C-4 D-5 E-1 B-3 C-1 D-2 E-4
11-15 POINTS: You are a … ciliate! You’re good at being flexible and going with the flow - whether you’re photosynthesizing or eating other phytoplankton, you know how to make the most of your surroundings. Time to take up yoga or better yet salsa dancing!
26-30 POINTS: You are a … diatom! You 6-10 POINTS: You are a … bacterium! are made of silicic acid and your presence You’re basic but not the pumpkin spice can be seen in rocks that are millions of latte kind. You’ve got you figured out and years old. You are an old soul but also you’ve been rocking it for a long time! when you bloom you make a big impres- You may be small but you are the mover sion and take over. Your confident and and shaper of things much bigger than bold personality attracts lots of admirers. you, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. While some would say you’re not technically a phytoplankton, you tell them to talk to the hand. To quote Sheryl Crowe, you’re an original, baby. 21-25 POINTS:You are a … dinoflagellate! You are quirky and usually arrive at things late, but once you get there you just sparkle. When you get together with your other like-minded buddies you have been known to dye the water red. Essentially, you’re nothing short of biblical.
16-20 POINTS: You are a … coccolithophore! You sometimes put up walls but for good reason: you need that armor to buffer against big changes in the world around you, specifically ocean chemistry. You are a life saver for your friends and enemies and you’re selfless. When you bloom your magnificence can be seen from satellites in outer space.
FRANK LEWIS BABEL
and this whole time i was only a stone’s throw from home, yet i felt so isolated in the cold bathtub of the sea. but there i was, half a cup of coffee and a good nights rest from dry land and reality.
GAD GIRLING / FRANK LEWIS BABEL
it felt as if the whole expedition was no more than a fabled summer camp frolic, danced from bow to stern, and back to the bunks again. the days slipped by, the nights rolled past, and i was out of sorts as ever. maybe it was all just a saline schoolboy sleepover, and i’m the seasick chump assigning empty meaning to the changing tides. i’ll miss the disney pizzas and cheese movies...
20 POC (µM)
INCUBATION 2 (SB CHANNEL)
15 10 5 0
INCUBATION 1 (SAN DIEGO)
PARTICULATE ORGANIC CARBON
WE ADDED VARYING AMOUNTS OF ASH (HIGH, H AND LOW, L) TO SEAWATER AND COMPARED IT WITH BULK SEAWATER (CONTROL, C) TO COMPARE DAILY CHANGES IN CARBON AND NITROGEN
PARTICULATE ORGANIC NITROGEN 3
TANKIA LADD / MIKE MANISCALCO
1 0.5 0
4 3 2 1 4
SHIFTING SEAS, SHIFTING SCIENCE NICHOLAS HUYNH
The ocean is wildly emotional, often shifting within short periods of time. Those emotions easily permeate into the psyche, but they come and go. A cloudless afternoon with gentle seas brings a soothing warmth, an invitation for an embrace. But the next morning brings howling winds that bite at my bones. Following is a sea foaming at its waves, angrily lashing out, driving me to seek some semblance of safety inside the ship. In that moment, I realize that what appears to be a large steel vessel is actually a small thimble in a vast desert expanse. I, those around me, and those at the helm, are all subject to the passing moods of the ocean. All that we can do is roll with it. This can be challenging when the ground moves beneath us, constantly nudging us off balance, changing the trajectory of where we were planning on going, on what we had planned on doing. Now hear this. Wise not to become too attached to plans when voyaging the high seas. When storms brew confused currents, best to change course before getting caught. Though forced to retreat to waters once visited, this tack from intention may seem
less than ideal, but new opportunities are presented. Signatures of change can be diagnosed: things grew, some things grew better, things died, some things survived, things ate, some things were eaten. things were infected, some things escaped detection. We’ll uncover who, how, and why. The ocean is immense. What’s happening here might be similar to what’s happening there, or maybe what will take place later, or maybe what has already taken place. It’s hard to really know. To piece the puzzle, we collect hundreds of liters of water, filter it, fix it, freeze it, then repeat. Again, again, and again. This is the tedious effort that drives great strokes of progress, as long as the ocean allows. No matter how the ocean feels, It’s always humbling to see it, to be in and on it, to explore it, to wonder about it. To pay heed to its emotions is to respect it. Only then do opportunities arise to learn from it.
NICHOLAS HUYNH / GAD GIRLING
GAD GIRLING / DUSTIN HAYES
SEASICK SEA SHEPHERD
The seasick sea shepherd is on his final leg, he’ll miss you all the sea lions and albatross but he’ll miss the phytoplankton most of all… The seasick sea shepherd is in his final days, he might give in take two breaths and peacefully lie on his back and sink into the sea… He’s returning to the start of the cycle we belong to but I occasionally find myself thinking, I wonder if he ever got lonely caring for the ocean with no one to care for him no one to fully share in the beauty was his life spent suffering? or was it enough for him? but now he’s gone I guess we’ll never know The seasick sea shepherd believed everything’s connected by tiny acts of god so pure and small that’s why he loved the phytoplankton most of all… that’s why he loved the phytoplankton most of all…
This publication was designed by Gad Girling and Celia Jacobs. It was first published in June 2018 and the oceanographic expedition it records took place in December 2017. In addition to all the scientists and artists who acted as excellent seafarers, friends, and collaborators, we would like to thank: Kelsey Bisson B.B. Cael Craig Carlson Carter Ohlmann Alyson Santoro David Siegel Libe Washburn Bruce Applegate & Scripps Institution of Oceanography Coastal Fund National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Captain & Crew of R/V Sally Ride Thank you.
A Journey of Art and Science in the Santa Barbara Channel