Auburn University
Academic Departments Student Services Alumni Research Outreach Diversity
Auburn University
 

Questions to Research Crew

 

 

10/07/09

This page contains answers to questions submitted by students from Drake Middle School in Auburn, Alabama as well as participants in the COSAM Getting Under the Surface (G.U.T.S.) monthly evening program aimed at first-sixth grade students and a parent/grandparent. Questions were emailed directly to the scientists aboard the ship and their answers posted to this website by Ms. Erin Edmondson, the Education Outreach Specialist traveling with the scientific team.

Question 1: How many rooms does the ship have?

Answer: The ship has 20 staterooms (rooms the crew sleeps in). -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Taylor
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 2: Is there a bathroom on the submersible?

Answer: The submersible does not have a bathroom on-board. Those who are traveling in the submersible should not drink a lot of fluids before their trip and they should definitely take a trip to the restroom before they leave! Luckily for the scientists, the entire trip is only about three-and-a-half hours long. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Beth
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 3: How deep can the submersible actually go? How deep are you going?

Answer: The Johnson Sea-Link II is the submersible we are taking on this trip. The submersible has the capability of traveling to a depth of 3,000 feet. We are staying within the Gulf of Mexico where the ocean is not that deep. Our depth each day will vary between 1,400-1,800 feet. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Sally
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 4: How do the tube worms eat if they can't move?

Answer: Tubeworms are sessile organisms. A sessile organism is one that does not move. Another group of sessile organisms are plants. Plants are autotrophic. This means that they can make their own food (energy) from the sun! Tubeworms, on the other hand, get energy in a slightly different way. They have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. Symbiotic relationships occur when two organisms of a different species rely on each other for survival. In this particular relationship, the tubeworms provide a home for the bacteria in their gut and the bacteria provide the food for the tubeworm. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Hunter B.
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

 

10/08-09/09

Question 5: How do tube worms reproduce?

Answer: Each tube worm releases either egg or sperm into the water column. The egg and sperm meet in the water and a new tube worm develops. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Alec
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 6: Are you going to touch the tube worms with your bare hands?

Answer: Yes, in order to get the worms out of their protective tubes, we have to break the tube. The tube itself is very strong and made of calcium carbonate. It is easier to break the tube with a pair of scissors and pull the worms out with ones hands than it is to use gloves. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Anna Claire, Michael B., and Liam
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 7: What is your main goal for this trip?

Answer: The purpose of this trip is to collect many different species of tubeworms from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Then, the research team will look at the relationship between the tubeworm and the bacteria found inside it. Many researchers have studied this relationship before. However, most researchers focus on what the bacteria get from the relationship. This team is focusing on what the tubeworm gets out of this relationship. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Anne Claire, Michael B., and Liam
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 8: How big is the submersible?

Answer: The submersible is 23.6 feet long, 10.9 feet tall. It has two compartments. The front compartment has a large, clear sphere that one scientist and a pilot can see out of. The back compartment is tiny, has two windows and can hold another scientist and a pilot laying down. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Shala Yancey
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 9: Will your ears pop when you are at the bottom of the ocean?

Answer: Actually, like an airplane, the submersible is pressurized. In fact, it does not feel any different at the surface of the ocean compared to the bottom of the ocean. The only time some researchers have to pop their ears is when they open the hatch for the researcher to exit the submersible. Even then, the pressure difference is very little and does not bother most people. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Mary Clare, Michael B., and Liam
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 10: Where does the waste go when you use the bathroom?

Answer: While on the ship, the waste is transferred to a holding tank, then it is processed and made biodegradable. Finally, assuming we are in international waters it is released into the water. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Adam Furman
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

 

10/10/09

Question 11: Is the water cold?

Answer: Yes, as the submersible gets deeper the water gets colder. In fact, at about 2,000 feet under the ocean the water can be as cold as 7.0 degrees Celsius. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Kennedie
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 12: On the way down can you see any other marine life and if so, what, and how deep were you when you saw it?

Answer: On the way down in the submersible it is actually traveling quite quickly. In fact, it is traveling so quickly that you reach the bottom in about twenty minutes! It is fairly difficult to see much marine life on the way down. However, on the way to the surface the pilots turn off ALL of the submersible lights. It is the darkest place any of the researchers have ever been! Your eyes don't even adjust after a while! The only thing you can see are flickers of light outside the submersible. This light is created by many marine organisms through a process called bioluminescence. This is the same process that lightning bugs use to glow. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Austin
7th grade
Harmony Middle School
Overland Park, KS

Question 13: Who is the head scientist?

Answer: On this particular research project there are actually three primary investigators, Drs. Fielman, Halanych, and Thornhill. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Susanna, Anisa, Taylor, and DeShaun
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama

Question 14: How many feet down are the scientists going?

Answer: In general, the submersible will be traveling between 1,400 and 1,800 feet deep. However, one dive will be around 2,000 feet. -Ms. Erin Edmondson

Submitted by:
Brennan and Loren
7th grade
J.F. Drake Middle School
Auburn, Alabama