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Hesperides Science -

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Two hundred and fifty scientists are circumnavigating the globe aboard two Spanish naval vessels to
assess the effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems and to explore their rich diversity.
Graham Phillips recently joined the crew and scientists aboard the Hesperides between Sydney and
Auckland.

NARRATION

The Hesperides is a science research ship. One of the most sophisticated in the world. Surfacing
now is one of its work horse instruments, the rosette. It takes water samples from the shallowest
depths to the very deepest.

Dr Graham Phillips

They can take samples up to seven kilometres down, that's the very bottom of the deepest oceans.

NARRATION

Each of those tubes holds a single , collected in an ingenious way.

Dr Graham Phillips

Before the instrument goes in the top and the bottom of these tubes are open, so as it goes down
through the sea. water just rushes through. When it gets to the depth they want to take a sample,
they're automatically snapped shut.

NARRATION

The rosette allows the microscopic life of the deep to be studied.

Prof Carlos Duarte

We have a very superficial knowledge of the ocean because most of our research therefore has
focused on the two, on the top two hundred metres of the ocean.

NARRATION

The deep ocean has life adapted to an extreme world of high pressure and low light.

Prof Carlos Duarte

Also it contains the oldest organisms on earth and a broad diversity of different ways to resolve
the problems of becoming a life.

NARRATION

Shallow water samples are also important.

Sarah-Jeanne Royer

Now I am sampling water from a ten metre depth.

NARRATION

Sarah's looking at the gasses given off by microscopic sea plants, phytoplankton.

Sarah-Jeanne Royer

Potentially have an impact on cloud formation and regulated climate.

NARRATION

The gas is called dimethyl sulphide, its released into the atmosphere where it back scatters
sunlight and so can affect the climate. Laura and Gemma are fishing.

Dr Graham Phillips

What are you going to catch in the nets?

Laura Morales Perez

We're going to catch some plankton.

NARRATION

The nets are lowered deep into the water. As they're pulled up they act like very fine tea
strainers trapping plankton from a column of water.

Gemma Caballero Rodriguez

We're collecting the samples for analysing in the lab for organic pollutants.

NARRATION

They're going to examine the sea going plankton to see how much air pollution they've absorbed,
because even out here far from cities there are pollutants.

Laura Morales Perez

Yeah there are. There are. It seems incredible but we find.

NARRATION

By sampling the air they can see how many of the pollutants get into the sea food chain.

Laura Morales Perez

We compare the ones from the air with the water and plankton and we, we see the equilibrium and
transport between air and water.

NARRATION

In the very top five centimetres of the sea is a unique ecosystem. This net skims along sampling
it.

Prof Miquel Alcaraz

It is like a glider that just filters on the surface of the sea water and captures all the, the
organisms that live in the interface between water and the sphere.

NARRATION

Miquel's had a good catch today.

Prof Miquel Alcaraz

I must clean up all that stuff and see what we have captured.

NARRATION

There's a water strider that eke out their existence walking on the surface of the ocean and
remarkable collection of other creatures. Like in Malaspina's day, Miquel likes to hand draw his
samples. But nowadays of course there's also digital photography. This is just some of what's been
dragged up. The oceans are vital to all life on earth. For us land lovers more than half of the
oxygen we breathe for example comes from plankton in the seas. So research vessels like the
Hesperides play a crucial role in our future.

Topics: Nature

Reporter: Dr Graham Phillips

Producer: Dr Graham Phillips

Researcher: Nicky Ruscoe

Camera: Peter Sinclair

Sound: Stephen Ravich

Editor: Lile Judickas

Story Contacts

Professor Carlos Duarte

The UWA Oceans Institute

Sarah-Jeanne Royer

Institute of Marine Sciences, Barcelona

Gemma Caballero Rodriguez

University of Barcelona

Laura Morales Pérez

University of Barcelona

Professor Miquel Alcaraz

Institute of Marine Sciences, Barcelona

Related Info

Malaspina 2010, the biggest ever expedition on global change, sets sail

Malaspina expedition 2010

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