January 16, 2014 Slideshow

Schools of pilot whales like these sometimes follow the Atlantis as it moves through the water. The whales seen here are roughly 12 to 15 feet long.

WHOI technician Sean Sylva injects a gas sample into a device called a ”gas chromatograph,” which measures the sample’s chemical content. The gas, which is trapped inside the syringe, bubbled out of vent fluid after it was taken out of one of Jeff Seewald’s Isobaric Gas-Tight samplers.

Remotely operated vehicle Jason floats at the surface just before being lifted onto deck.

Bosun “Catfish” Popowitz steadies a huge hook that Atlantis’ crane will use to lower an elevator into the water.

These tiny white flecks, seen in the tubing of the Large Volume Pump, are actually bits of sulfur—a byproduct created by certain microbes as they “eat” hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

Microbiologist Xiao Xiang (left) and graduate student Xi Wei remove tiny pieces of a vent structure sample. Back in his lab, Xiang will analyze the pieces to study archaea, a type of microbe commonly found at vent sites.

Costa Vetriani tests fresh samples of a vent structure with a Geiger counter, a device that can detect radioactivity. Minerals from the vent can be mildly radioactive, he said, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stefan Sievert (left), and Donato Giovannelli (right) look over vent samples that arrived on Jason just a few minutes before this photo was taken.

Sitting with a laptop inside the Jason van, Stefan Sievert fields questions from a live audience at the New Bedford Ocean Explorium.


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