Podcast Series: The RRS Discovery – Episode 2

Episode 2: What lies beneath?

Join us again aboard the Royal Research Ship Discovery, cruising towards the mid-Atlantic to an area known as the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. As we heard in the previous episode, this unique cruise brought together researchers from multiple disciplines to apply their specialist skills to collect data in the region. In this episode we hear from scientists bridging the gap between the physical oceanography, the chemistry and primary production, and the ecological roles of cephalopod molluscs.

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Far from land in the mid-Atlantic. Photo: Julie Miller

We begin by hearing from Dr. Igor Belkin, our onboard Oceanographer. Igor talks us through the physical features of the ocean and in particular one of his passions, ocean fronts. Fronts – where two water masses meet – play an important role both in regulating Earth’s climate and in nutrient cycling. Which leads us on to our next team of scientists.

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Oceanographic satellite maps with the Discovery route in red. Credit: Igor Belkin

Dr. Tom Browning and Ali Al-Hashem from GEOMAR worked around the clock in the ship’s laboratories. Their aim: to collect samples of water continually as we cruised. Tom and Ali are interested in the nutrient content of the region. Nutrient availability in the ocean is a limiting factor in the growth of algae (phytoplankton), an indicator of primary productivity and a foundational food source for other organisms further up the food-chain. Ali is also interested in looking at the chemical signature of the guano of seabirds the seabird team catch. Little is known about the role higher apex predators such as seabirds play in nutrient cycling in the oceans.

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Filtration in one of the ship’s laboratories. Photo: Julie Miller

Last, but definitely not least we hear from Dr. Vladimir Laptikhovsky, expert in cephalopod molluscs. Vlad tells us about the importance of cephalopods in the oceans, particularly deep-sea squids, their role in nutrient cycling, and their importance in the diets of apex predators. We also learn how identifying species of squid from a seabird regurgitate sample is a challenging process!

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This podcast series was designed, recorded and narrated by Julie Miller, and edited by Taya Forde.

Feature image: Sunset on board the Royal Research Ship Discovery, courtesy of Julie Miller.

Intro and outro music sampled from: “The Curtain Rises” and “Early RiserKevin MacLeod [CC BY 3.0]

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