Gradients of Blue Economic Seep Resources

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.

  • Eavesdropping on Microbial Discussions to Cure Disease

    October 13, 2020 | By Dr. Kerry McPhail

    Areas like this microbial community on the seafloor are epicenters of microbial interaction, and based on what we learned from exploring nature on land, may hold the potential for great discoveries. Neosporin antibiotic ointment is made up of the three antibiotics neomycin, polymyxin and bacitracin, all from soil bacteria; the original statin drug was discovered from a fungus; the cancer drug Taxol was originally isolated from the Pacific Yew tree; and the metastatic breast cancer drug Halaven is derived from a marine sponge. What help can methane seeps provide for diseases of today and tomorrow?

    Microbial communities on the seafloor are epicenters of microbial interaction, and based on what we learned from exploring nature on land, may hold the potential for great discoveries. What help can methane seeps provide for diseases of today and tomorrow?

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  • Peering into the Dark, Finding the Unexpected

    September 30, 2020 | By Dr. Andrew Thurber

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    We often think of exploring as diving into the abyss to find new species. And while we do find new species, exploration is really one of the first and most critical components of the scientific method: observation.

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  • A Tale of Two Seeps

    September 29, 2020 | By Lila Ardor Bellucci

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    Even across similar ocean depths and latitudes, individual seep sites can vary dramatically in the way they look and function and in the animals and microbes that live there. One reason is because seeps can be thought of as having lifetimes and can look very different at different phases in their Iives. During two dives while exploring the Cascadia Margin, we were lucky to find seeps in two opposite ends of these phases, often called “successional stages.”

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  • Census of the Microbial World – aka “Omics”

    September 28, 2020 | By Susie Cummings

    While microbial mats at methane seeps, like this one, are home to many microbes, deep-sea sediment has a billion bacteria in every milliliter of mud, whether at a seep or in the middle of the ocean.

    How would you conduct a census for bacteria? As scientists, we want to learn about the diversity of different life on Earth – and that includes microscopic life as well! But how do you get information about things so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye?

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  • Sustainable Use of Ocean Resources: Blue Economy of Seeps

    September 27, 2020 | By Dr. Andrew Thurber

    Seeps are home to many animals, increasing biodiversity in the deep by creating food from chemical energy and structure for deep-sea animals to lay their eggs on. For example, this image shows a mass of snails (gastropods called Neptunea) and their egg masses (the yellow towers) using clumps of tubeworms as a place to anchor them in the otherwise soft sediment of the deep.

    The ocean has been an economic resource and critical component of society throughout human history, and yet it is also an area that faces increased use and economic growth. The decision to use a resource involves a combination of technology, economics, and societal will. Seeps are no different, and exploration and discovery of them will inform management decisions as we decide the future economy of the deep ocean.

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  • Seeps as Part of the Ocean and Society

    September 26, 2020 | By Dr. Andrew Thurber

    The diversity of animals that live at seeps is inspiring. On this cluster of Vestimentiferan tube worms, there are snail egg cases, an octopus, and a diversity of small organisms tucked in every crevice possible.

    Methane seeps are areas where methane leaks from vast reservoirs deep in the ocean mud. If that leak is big enough, it provides an energy source for microbes who can capture it, use it, and pass it on to other organisms.

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  • An Unexpected Discovery: Connecting Habitats and Teams

    September 25, 2020 | By Lila Ardor Bellucci

    This aggregation of clams is fueled by the release of methane from the seafloor. It provides a great example of how widespread methane seeps are along the Washington Margin.

    A mere five minutes after gawking at huge meter-wide pink bubblegum corals, the lights of remotely operated vehicle Hercules began glinting off bright white clam shells and knotty bushes of tube worms. We knew this could only mean one thing... methane seeps.

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