Ed Bowlby and Keith Tamburri  pointing at colonies of Lophelia pertusa on monitors.

Co-PI Ed Bowlby working the night shift with ROV pilot Keith Tamburri. They are pointing at colonies of Lophelia pertusa, deciding how to collect a sample. Click image for larger view and image credit.

Lophelia You’re Breaking My Heart

June 1, 2006

Mary Sue Brancato

Working the night shift throws you off, so maybe that explains the chorus I frequently woke up to during the latter half of the cruise. (Okay, so maybe I could not hear it through the steel walls of the ship, but I certainly heard it as I headed down the hall from the berths to the science lab!) For this cruise we had debated whether to split the shifts more equitably in the wee hours–perhaps setting them from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 to 3, but to stay consistent with the ROV team and to take advantage of the regularly scheduled meals on board, we held to 12-hourshifts, with the day shift working from noon to midnight and the night shift from midnight to noon.

Lophelia pertusa colony individuals with their tentacles extended.

The excitement of finding several healthy looking colonies of the stony coral Lophelia pertusa caused the night crew to break into song!  Some of the individuals in this Lophelia pertusa colony have their tentacles extended. Click image for larger view

The night shift definitely had the roughest time adjusting to the schedule. I worked the day shift on this cruise, but as a co-PI, I had an enduring interest in any submersible dive. I would wake up and spend my “free” hours on the latter half of the night shift. The stony coral Lophelia was first seen on this trip by the night shift on perhaps our fifth dive – on our record 52 hour dive! (So perhaps that alone was driving us to giddiness and song). Steve, one of our ROV pilots, often noted for breaking into song, became the chorus director for the find and the theme song for the cruise quickly became “Lophelia, you’re breaking my heart….” Actually, I am not sure we ever got beyond that one line! However, the night crew should probably decide to keep their day jobs when we listen to the audio play-backs of the ‘songs’ that were recorded by the scientific observer microphones. Our apologies to Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, and whoever the real “Cecelia” is!


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