Our Data...Organisms

Open Ocean

We had a beautiful day to visit our open ocean station in the Sargasso Sea. The dolphins thought so too!

We even had some time to catch some Mahi Mahi - you know what's on the menu for dinner this evening!

The Sargasso Sea is well known for the floating mats of Sargassum weed (right).

Using a simple mesh net, we grabbed a sample and found a "floating city" full of crabs, small fish and shrimp (below). Poor swimmers must maintain a firm grip on these floating mats or be lost to the ocean depths.

Notice how members of the Sargassum weed ecosystem blend in with the tan Sargassum weed.

Sargassum weed often has a hard, whitish coating that may help protect against predation.

Air sacs and delicate fan-like extensions keep the Sargassum afloat.

Our net tows at the open ocean station seemed pretty empty compared to our upwelling station tows.

One species we did find in our tows was Trichodesmium, a common cyanobacteria ("blue-green algae") in tropical to subtropical waters. It exists as single "filaments"...


... or as colonies (20 - 200 "filaments"). Colonies may be visible to the unaided eye (1-10 mm in length).

Pyrocystis noctiluca is a bioluminescent dinoflagellate (left).

Ceratium is another dinoflagellate that was found in our open ocean net tows (right).



Although infrequently observed, some chain diatoms were discovered in our tows (right).


Unusual blue copepods were sampled... why might copepods that live in the Sargasso Sea have this color? Pictured to the right is a copepod nauplii (next to a Trichodesmium filament), a "favorite food" for larvae-eaters.

Enchinoderm larvae have distinctive shapes (below).

The "snail-like" organism (above, middle) is likely Foraminifera, an amoeba with a calcareous shell. To its right is Tintinnid, a ciliate that feeds on small phytoplankton.

The star-shaped organisms (below) are radiolaria - amoebae that have symbiotic relationships with phytoplankton.

Our slide-making some nanoplankton....

.....and some picoplankton.

In addition to the organisms we were able to photograph, we also saw some squid, some jellyfish, and even some flying fish!


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