Gustavo Ramírez, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Cal State LA, and graduate student Oscar Almacen have headed out to sea to explore the microbiology of seamounts—dark underwater mountains, deep beneath the waves of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. As part of the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) Octopus Odyssey Expedition
, Ramírez and Almacen joined an international multidisciplinary group of marine scientists on board the SOI vessel Falkor (too),
which is carrying a remotely operated submarine vehicle known as Subastian
. With the help of the vehicle, the faculty-student team will work to collect critical data on the ecology of seamount ecosystems. Seamounts serve as hot spots of biological activity in the otherwise barren desert-like sediment plains that dominate the deep ocean seafloor. The team will also look at which microbes inhabit seamounts and what roles they play in weathering rocks and, perhaps, influencing animal health and behaviors. The exploration began on Nov. 29 and will run through Dec. 17. Live updates on the research voyage may be found on the SOI’s YouTube account
. Visit the Ramírez Lab website
for more about their research.