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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 22 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Water

Logs Thrown Into The Ocean Become Hotspots

A team of scientists from the research organization Max Planck in Germany dumped some stuff into the logs-mfile-rjoshEastern Mediterranean Sea in the name of science! They also used underwater robot technology to study the results after dropping four wood logs (Douglas fir) with smaller logs attached on the seafloor at depths of 1,700 meters or over 5,000 feet.

Three of the logs were deployed using the remote operated vehicle (ROV) Quest 4000, the little robot NOAA used back in September of last year to study underwater volcanoes in the Lau Basin. The Max Planck study was conducted in 2006-2007 so the ROV had plenty of time to rest up for NOAA.

The team had to wait a whole year to check on the logs, which were weighed down with cement, and obtain the data needed to prove their hypothesis: that marine microorganisms and invertebrates from hot and cold seeps would flock to the wood due to bacteria activity which produces hydrogen sulfide as the wood is degrading.

Animals that live at seeps need special forms of energy that emerge from the ocean floor like methane and hydrogen sulfide  They carry interdependent bacterial organisms in their bodies that will convert the energy from these compounds into food.

Essentially the researchers wanted to see if deep-sea life were living off the wood until the logs eventually bio-degraded and the marine life had to move on to another stump.

“We were surprised how many animals had populated the wood already after one year. The main colonizers were wood-boring bivalves of the genus Xylophaga, also named ‘shipworms’ after their shallow-water counterparts. The wood-boring Xylophaga essentially constitute the vanguard and prepare the habitat for other followers,”  said the study’s lead author Christina Bienhold, “But they also need assistance from bacteria, namely to make use of the cellulose from the wood, which is difficult to digest.”

To cut a long scientific paper short, eventually every log turned into a bio-diversity hotspot, the scientific term for party. The wood-boring bivalves were living up to their name and acting like little lumberjacks or the official party chef by cutting large parts of the wood into smaller chips which were further degraded by other marine organisms.  

Researchers spotted fish loitering and crabs hiding underneath the log trying to avoid an embarrassing run-in with former significant others while sea urchins preferred to sit on top of the log keeping an eye out for the crabs. Someone invited 150 mussels to one party much to the delight of the researchers. Three groups of small crustaceans were seen at another party but no one got their names so they were left unidentified.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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