Journey into Midnight: Light and Life Below the Twilight Zone: Mission Logs

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Heading Home

    June 21, 2019  |  Sönke Johnsen

    Sönke Johnsen likes to say that that everyone wants to go to sea once, but only one out of a hundred ever wants to go again. Those who do it again and again fall in love with the animals, the people, the adventure, and also the ships themselves.

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  • Here Be Monsters: We Filmed a Giant Squid in America's Backyard

    June 20, 2019  |  Sönke Johnsen and Edie Widder

    Scientists are usually pictured on screen as sober and humorless types, pre-occupied with numbers and empty facts. However, nothing could be further from the truth, at least among the scientists we know. We are deeply passionate about our fields, sometimes to the point of obsession. Yet we are also trained from the beginning to control this passion, not so that we can be seen as serious or important, but so that we don't fool ourselves. It is so easy to fall in love with an idea to the point that we can convince ourselves that it's true even when the data do not agree. And so we fight to keep ourselves in check – to not get too excited. We're like cars with the gas and brake pedal pushed to the floor; roaring, but also holding ourselves in place. Now and then, we get to take our foot off the brake...and it all comes loose.

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  • ROV vs. BLOG

    June 19, 2019  |  Travis Kolbe

    Up until a week ago or so, remotely operated vehicle pilot/technician Travis Kolbe didn’t know what a BLOG was until he started working with some scientist that “schooled” him on what it means. Read his first learn more about his role on the expedition.

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  • What’s Blacker Than Black?

    June 18, 2019  |  Alexander Davis

    In the midnight zone, sunlight is long extinguished and the only light comes in the form of bioluminescence from the animals that live there. Predators can take advantage of this fact and scan the water for glints of light reflected from the skin or scales of potential prey. In this game of life and death, how have animals evolved to minimize the amount of light they reflect and stay hidden? By being blacker than black.

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  • BIG

    June 17, 2019  |  Tamara Frank

    Last night, the team ran into a phenomenon that is found primarily in deep-sea invertebrates (animals without backbones). That is the phenomenon of gigantism in the deep sea, when animals grow much larger than their shallow water relatives.

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  • Seeing the Unseen

    June 16, 2019  |  Edie Widder

    Trying to imagine what life is like for animals inhabiting the deep ocean is an enormous challenge. Because so many have fantastic eyes, it’s evident that vision plays a major role in their existence. And the light they have evolved to see – living light, called bioluminescence – is apparently equally fantastic. The trick is to be able to observe unobtrusively. That’s what the Medusa is designed to do.

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  • It Is All About Teamwork

    June 15, 2019  |  Heather Judkins

    Team setting up for a Tucker Trawl deployment.
    Science team and ship's crew deploying the Medusa for its 30-hour adventure.

    Whether it is deploying the Medusa or retrieving the Tucker Trawl, everyone onboard has a role to play in the day-to-day operations to make science happen.

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  • Worth the Wait

    June 14, 2019  |  Heather Bracken-Grissom

    After rain delays and having to move to a new exploration site away from the Gulf Stream, the team finally deployed the remotely operated vehicle and was able to witness some of the most beautiful animals on our planet, reminding Heather Bracken-Grissom that so many things are still "worth the wait."

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  • The Last True Apprenticeship

    June 12, 2019  |  By Lorian Schweikert

    Dr. Lorian Schweikert writes that she wishes you were out here with the team, as the experience is too grand to keep to herself.

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  • Searching for Giant Squid in the Gulf of Mexico

    June 11, 2019  |  By Nathan J. Robinson

    We are very proud to have on the Point Sur the scientist, Edith Widder, who captured the first-ever footage of a giant squid in its natural environment!

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  • Doing Science

    June 10, 2019  |  By Tracey Sutton

    As soon as the squalls ended and the rough seas quieted, we were all anxious to start doing what we are here to do - science!

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  • Rain

    June 9, 2019  |  By Sönke Johnsen

    As they say, "love nature, but always remember that it doesn't love you back." Nature is nature, and not interested in our love – or our plans.

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  • Happy World Oceans Day!

    June 8, 2019  |  By Megan McCall

    What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than doing some real science investigations in the Gulf of Mexico!

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