Edit: we're done! Thank you so much for talking with us!

The Antarctic continental shelf is one of the most remote and understudied marine ecosystems on earth. The seafloor here is teeming with invertebrate life: worm species large and small, microscopic molluscs, sea spiders, sea stars, and sea cucumbers, all together on the vast muddy bottom.

Most invertebrates in the Southern Ocean are unknown to science, and every expedition uncovers troves of new species and unique body types. Using new DNA sequencing technologies, scientists are also trying to piece together the unique evolutionary history of Antarctic ecosystems, and understand how polar invertebrates may be related to species in other ocean regions.

Join me and a dream team of invertebrate taxonomists and evolutionary biologists searching for new species around Eastern Antarctica. We'll start at 2pm US Eastern Time and answer your questions for the rest of the day, or until we get too tired.

  • Live updates via WhatsApp throughout our journey: https://t.co/jk1sQELdaX
  • Folks who answered questions today: Virginia (running this AMA- all answers are from me unless signed with someone else's name), Holly (my best friend and a neat scientist, who thought of doing an AMA), Candace, Jake, Alejandro, Andy, Nick, Emily, Chandler, Jessica, Ken, Kevin, Kyle, Will, and Victoria
  • Scientist roster: https://www.icyinverts.com/participants1.html

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 638 • Responses: 111  • Date: 

Stinky_Eastwood455 karma

If you have a free day, could you please travel to the ice wall and let us know if you can see the edge of the flat earth, or if there is more land beyond?

DeepSeaBiologist430 karma

There are only unicorns beyond

68rouge342 karma

What are your thoughts on hitting golf balls into the ocean? I know an amateur marine biologist that saved a whale that had a golf ball in its blow hole. The sea was angry that day

DeepSeaBiologist341 karma

I KNEW IT- 22 minutes in!! I knew we'd get one of these questions within a half hour of opening up this AMA 🤦‍♀️

The sea *was* angry that day, my friends

deafballboy43 karma

This episode was one of my "compatibility indicators" that I used when I was dating. Many watched it beside me, only one proved to have the proper shiksappeal.

DeepSeaBiologist36 karma

About 38,000 people always fill our AMAs with "questions" about Costanza 🥰

Root_Clock955217 karma

Which of the following deep sea adventure movies released in 1989 was your favorite?

The Abyss, DeepStar Six or Leviathan?

DeepSeaBiologist214 karma

Hi nobody awake yet (its 7:22 am here) is old enough to know those movies (please don't downvote this answer 😬)

and198426 karma

You should do an Amazon order for these DVDs. They are fantastic movies!!! I'm sure Amazon delivers to the south pole. 😋

DeepSeaBiologist54 karma

The ship has a library of movies so we don't have to fill our suitcases. It's very convenient!

Girl--Gone-Mild22 karma

I’m old enough - but I don’t know any of those movies either! So don’t feel bad.

DeepSeaBiologist36 karma


DeepSeaBiologist188 karma

I asked again at 9:28am and Andy answers for sure The Abyss. Nick agrees and is now getting lots of grief from Will now for having watched every scifi movie that remotely relates to Antarctica

houstondad132 karma

My son wants to become a marine biologist. Any tips / suggestions / lessons learned?

DeepSeaBiologist233 karma

A great question! A few of us are awake and answering questions now- here's what came to mind first:
- Get to the ocean if you're landlocked! And start volunteering, interning, or working there to get experience and figure out what you like
- Ask researchers how you can get involved as early as you know you want to get involved- learning research culture is helpful no matter what
- There are scholarships and fellowships available- don't get discouraged by financial stuff!
- We didn't all travel here linearly- multiple of us took years off or started elsewhere (one of us was in HR for 10+ years! another people did neuroscience and industry and premed first)
- Candace, Emily, Jacob, Virginia

Herbstrabe71 karma

Scholar-Ships and their fellow ships should be helpful in marine research.

DeepSeaBiologist53 karma


juska80191 karma

Why is it that area is so under studied? I realize it's cold there, but we've had people in that area for years, no?

DeepSeaBiologist139 karma

This is the first time a US research ship has been to this area for 22 years!! There's much more US infrastructure for this kind of research for ships that leave from Chile, and Antarctica is a lot closer to the southern tip of South America than New Zealand, so it's just easier to do stuff around there instead.

Obryk29 karma

first time a US research ship has been to this area for 22 years!!

Do you mean part of a federal program or something? This university research vessel from California went there in 2013

DeepSeaBiologist75 karma

They went to a different part of Antarctica. Our ship is going to East Antarctica, where no US gov-funded ship has been for a few decades

Me0fCourse30 karma

East Antarctica as a concept seems very weird to me.

DeepSeaBiologist69 karma

ikr?? "East" to whom?? (this is from Virginia)

Andy says it's called East and West Antarctica because there are 2 landmasses under all the ice that are connected (no ocean in there, just ice) but they're separated by a mountain range, and so things like drainage, etc. are different for the two areas

4aliknaa9926 karma

I’m curious in how your sampling method is conducted, do you just dredge shelves and sift through the slop afterwords?

DeepSeaBiologist58 karma

That's the basic idea! But there are a few different ways we collect the slop, depending on what people want. Some folks are interested in what's living on top, some people need what's living down in the mud, so we have a few different types of slop grabbers (I'm totally stealing that name for our stuff)

ButteryFarts42013 karma

Do you have an ROV on board with a team?

DeepSeaBiologist29 karma

We do not have an ROV- they're expensive, require specialized operators, and take up lots of deck space, so they'd make us do less of the science we want to do. But we have GoPros on all our equipment, so we'll still get some videos.

redditknees78 karma

whats it like to set foot on Antarctica and do you feel more or less connected to the planet?

DeepSeaBiologist193 karma

We haven't gotten there yet! And won't ever set foot on the continent, just on the ice if we're lucky. We're going around Antarctica for it's ocean, not on Antarctica for the land.

But GOOD GRACIOUS YES it's incredible and weird and hard to go somewhere so remote. Space will have better internet than us and Holly and I (Virginia) and others left behind small kids to come here, but seeing things that nobody has ever seen ever in the history of the world before is part of the thrill of doing this kind of work.

bullintheheather23 karma

You should take a day to go on the land just to say you've done it.

DeepSeaBiologist18 karma

We want to! Will depend on the weather and other things

kingdazy63 karma

Are you excited to discover something, and name it after yourself? I would be.

DeepSeaBiologist178 karma

Excited to discover, not excited to name it after us. Many of the species named after people are super problematic now and we don't need that drama

motoxjake43 karma

Excited to discover, not excited to name it after us. Many of the species named after people are super problematic now and we don't need that drama

Can you expound why naming a species after oneself can be problematic, please?

DeepSeaBiologist147 karma

Holly and Andy say the international zoology nomenclature group prohibits naming species after yourself. We generally agree- it feels arrogant, especially because it's so easy to see who went through the process of describing something. We've seen people sell off the rights to name something, which we have feelings about. We also know of someone who named a horrible parasite that causes diarrhea after someone they didn't like, which we have different feelings about : )

Nitro11437 karma

Would you name a new species after a book charakter or something similar? Iirc there are a few animals named after Harry potter characters.

DeepSeaBiologist64 karma

Emily says she's doing that right now! It's still getting published so it's not online yet, and it's based on the book "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell"

roguestate29 karma

Obviously being professional is the right way to go, but the diarrhea parasite.... That's objectively funny. (hopefully the person was deserving!)

DeepSeaBiologist22 karma

Sounds like they were 😬

Haploid-life42 karma

This is a dream job to me! Will you have assistants to help you go through the sheer volume of samples?

DeepSeaBiologist104 karma

We don't like to think of trainees as "assistants" because we're all constantly learning more (that's the point of being a scientist!), but yes there are 5 teams on this expedition, each of which has a team leader and other people. Some of the trainees are PhD students, some are undergrads, some are postdocs, one is a curator at a museum, and I (Virginia, hi, I'm typing everything here) am a science communicator- my full-time job is to make stuff for the internet (tho I have a PhD in ecology, but I'm not doing science for this trip, I'm doing media). Science is best with a team!

improveyourfuture31 karma

What kind of ‘mind’ does a worm have? What signs of intelligence do they show?

I’ve always seen them like as if they’re just amoebas or something but the natural world never ceases to amaze me so curious

DeepSeaBiologist57 karma

There are so many different types of worms that they have very different minds depending on exactly what kind you're looking at. But they do have basic nervous sytems and the complexity of those systems differs depending on type. Worms like c elegans (a nematode- my favorite) have similar neural pathways and proteins to human brains, even though they're so simple. So it doesn't have a brain like ours, but enough of the connections and structures are similar that that's why it's used as a model organism to study human diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
- Holly

oscar_w29 karma

Do you feel that Screech's character was underused in Saved By The Bell?

DeepSeaBiologist25 karma

I was a tine babe when SBtB was on tv and my house in rural KY just had 3 channels from an antenna on the roof growing up soooooo.... whatever you think, I'm sure it's the best opinion!

houstondad18 karma

Oh snap, I grew up in a stop light town in Western Kentucky, so I know those feels lol

DeepSeaBiologist19 karma

WHAT HIIIiiiiii!!!!!

klausfu8 karma

Paducah! What’s uppppp

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

Morehead!! (from Virginia yeaaahhhh)

destinationlalaland14 karma

I’ve always assumed a deep sea biologist from Kentucky would preserve his specimens in oak casks filled with bourbon. Is this accurate?

DeepSeaBiologist39 karma

ExCUSE me, I am a HER

SHE preserves HER specimens in oak casks filled with bourbon 💅

f1r3starter27 karma

Are you guys headed to McM or palmer or staying on board the LMG/NBP? Once upon a time I used to sail on both ships.

DeepSeaBiologist34 karma

The NBP- hiiii!!! It's such a special ship (but still hard to see the fancy upgrades that the privately funded ships are getting right now!)

FirstForBurgers25 karma

Hey! I’m about to graduate with my Biology B.S. and I’m hoping to go into deep sea sciences in my PhD! I’d love to ask about the process of you going into the program your doing this study with? How were you able to network with PI’s to secure the opportunity?

DeepSeaBiologist33 karma

There are 7 faculty scientists from 5 universities leading projects on this one expedition, so there are lots of people out there- ask! Write emails! Push through your impostor syndrome! Candace met someone at a conference years ago and had the courage to talk to the. Alejandro sauntered into Holly's office without any warning and then he started doing research with her as an undergrad.

h4xxor22 karma

Did you read or watch The Swarm? It has deep-sea ice worms in it.

DeepSeaBiologist21 karma

Only Nick has- says it's the worst thing he's ever seen in their entire life

AlanIsNotEvil21 karma

Very cool! What's your favorite invert that you/your team has come across so far?

DeepSeaBiologist41 karma

We're not actually "there" yet- space will have better internet than us so we had to do this AMA before we got down to the ice. But from past cruises: everyone loves sea pigs! And sea cucumbers! They're both very squishy and cute rules, even among invertebrate scientists. And sea spiders glow! Which is also very cool.

Sweetreg21 karma

Ever had an honor to work with George Costanza?

MybklynWndy14 karma

I wonder if the sea was angry that day.

DeepSeaBiologist17 karma

We did. It was.

fasttrackxf19 karma

How do you feel about tourists visiting Antarctica?

DeepSeaBiologist36 karma

We ALWAYS want people to RESPONSIBLY share in the beautiful places that we're fortunate enough to experience. As long as it's well-regulated and monitored so folks follow Antarctic treaties, then it's fine. But as scientists, we're generally VERY concerned about environmental impact with insufficient regulations, like invasive species being brought in.
- Holly, Virginia, Andy

Zazaya18 karma

This September my daughter will start university studying Marine Bio. She is fascinated by jelly fish. Any advice?

DeepSeaBiologist19 karma

Encourage that passion! Other advice on becoming a marine biologist is above, in answer to another question

oppapoocow17 karma

What's at the edge of the ice sheets? Do you guys see the giant turtle carrying our planet?

DeepSeaBiologist24 karma

Unbridled joy is at the edge of the ice sheets

DoctorStacy16 karma

What’s the scariest moment you’ve had on your work adventures? Any kraken?

DeepSeaBiologist45 karma

No kraken. We are 120% concerned about safety for everybody, so there's not much to say.
Candace and Andy are telling me about a fire alarm on a ship at 3am, caused by a short in a wire, but it got sorted fairly quickly and undramatically. The worst consequence from that was someone showing up to their muster station wearing their Lilo & Stich onesie pajamas backwards.

FirstForBurgers16 karma

Second question: You mentioned using new DNA sequencing technologies. Are you using Qubit, nano pore or other technologies to do this? And do you sequence your samples while in the field or take them to a home lab area for sequencing?

DeepSeaBiologist21 karma

We take all of the samples home- we don't have the equipment onboard to do the actual stuff here plus ALL our time is spent collecting stuff to sequence. Illumina and PacBio. Microscopy is super important to complement the sequencing, says Holly

FirstForBurgers8 karma

Wow that sounds like such an adventurous trip!

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

It is we're all sooooo excited!!!!!

Toohardtofindswarc16 karma

Did you go to Central Michigan? If so what path do they offer that led you to such an interesting job? My son loves octonauts and wants to be a marine biologist someday, any advice??

DeepSeaBiologist15 karma

There are multiple people here from C Mich! Andy Mahon, the lead scientist for this expedition, recommends getting a strong biology degree with math involved, and Holly adds (and Andy agrees) that you don't need to specialize in marine biology too early. They both think that exploring in terms of classes and degrees gives you a broader base of thought if you decide you want marine bio later in your career.

geschtonkenflapped11 karma

Tell Franzi a nice and warm "SERVUS" from Germany

DeepSeaBiologist12 karma

Message relayed

UggWantFire15 karma

Did you have to have your appendix out? It was it already out?

DeepSeaBiologist12 karma

No and no

tossitallyouguys13 karma

Questions from the fam:

Are their any worms that look like tiny jellyfish?

What’s the average number of new species you find per trip?

What favorite foods will you all miss while you’re gone?

What other research besides finding new ones are these worms being studied for?

DeepSeaBiologist18 karma

Hi fam!
- Jellyfish: Maybe? They're all squishy and tube-shaped, but also not really. Jellyfish are so not-tubes, kind of. Kyle sassily asks: what really IS a jellyfish? Now everyone is arguing about how the worms are OG and the jellyfish are the imitators
- New species: Hundreds to thousands. 99% of what we expect to find from this trip we expect to be new. Most of what we will study that has been described has probably been described by people from teams on this ship.
- Foods: milk (Virginia). Vegetables (Victoria).
- Other research: All of us onboard are generally looking at evolution and how the things we see on this trip fit in with the rest of what we know about life, from life elsewhere, which tells us about why life is the way it is, everywhere. We're also looking at how far this stuff can move, around Antarctica and outside of the Antarctic area, since there's so much interest in how isolated these ecosystems are.

Major_Recommendation12 karma

Did you see the X-Files episode about this?

DeepSeaBiologist19 karma

We're not who we are

Corporation_tshirt12 karma

A family member was in Antarctica several months ago and went viral with a video of his doing the Dolphins Waddle in front of a bunch of penguins while wearing a Dolphins jersey over his parka. Do you plan to do a dance as well? Perhaps to call attention to your research? (To be clear, I think your project sounds very interesting and I wish you much success with your research.)

DeepSeaBiologist16 karma

Thank you! There are several of us who are having a meme battle in our group chat. Jacob and I (Virginia, hi) are really excited to gesture to penguins and tell people to look at all those chickens. Nick and Jacob may Witerally Hit The Gwiddy

Corporation_tshirt11 karma

That’s just the kind of (and I mean this with respect) nerd humor I was hoping for from a group of scientists :D I hope you’ll keep us up to date on your progress and of course post some memes!

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

We could sense the mutual respect : ) Happy to!!

squishbuish12 karma

What's the coolest underwater thing you have ever seen?

DeepSeaBiologist29 karma

Multiple of us are saying whale fall- they attract so much stuff to the feast that it's always fun, plus it's jumpscare-type visuals when the giant shape emerges from the dark.
Specific animals like giant isopods and fireworms
Holly says the mud is all the cool she needs 😐
- Emily, Nick, Virginia, Candace, Holly

Vilvos11 karma

How are microplastics and pollutants like PFAs affecting benthic ecosystems?

DeepSeaBiologist15 karma

We don't know, exactly. Holly says those are classed as "emerging contaminants" and there's lots of active research on this. The worry is that things like worms will see little plastic particles as food and fill up on them and then starve to death. There are also lots of effects we don't know enough about yet to give a great answer. Jacob and Virginia think they've read things about heavy metals coming into the body when microplastics are eaten, and now Holly's mentioning that chemicals in general mess with biology and reproduction and sensory systems.

In short: not in great ways!

MrsBonsai17111 karma

My 7 year old daughter is obsessed with marine biology! This is what she wants to know: how do you find the worms in the mud?

DeepSeaBiologist16 karma

We pull up big boxes and tubes of mud first. Some of them go into a giant sifting sable where we use hoses to spray off the mud and we catch all the living things. Some others get cut into tiny mud cubes, like ice cubes, that are frozen and then we can use microscopes to find the tiny stuff when they're unfrozen later, once we get home. Go marine biology!

pro-user10 karma

If I’m not mistaken, earthworms can regenerate if parts of them are cut off. Is that the same for seaworms (pardon my uneducated French)? Theoretically, if you would cut one in half, do both parts regenerate another half, and are they then clones at that point? Would that also work if split in more parts? And does that affect biodiversity for the species in a way?

DeepSeaBiologist13 karma

From Holly: wound healing is not the same as regeneration- they're different genetic pathways. Very few things can actually regenerate. Nematodes have wound-healing capabilities, but it's very unclear if they can do this like you're thinking of.
Emily says polychaetes can probably do this like you're thinking of, but it depends on species for whether they can do this for all body parts.
Nick says the same is true for annelids.

acoustical10 karma

Will you be diving to collect samples or using some sort of remote collection? I'm a scuba diver myself and your kind of critter sounds like what we find in "muck diving". I was just in Antarctica and regretted not setting up a dive while there. Have fun!

DeepSeaBiologist14 karma

Remote! Diving is more dangerous and way less efficient than pulling up gobs of mud and processing stuff on the ship

BasedBlasturbator10 karma

I knew a guy studying Marine biology who had to quit after getting severly depressed from the state of our oceans with and their rapidly dissapearing ecosystems.

What do you think is the most hopeful and the most depressive marine fact you know?

DeepSeaBiologist19 karma

- Virginia (me, hi) is an eternal optimist, and falls back on the activist version of hope: hope is not something you just wake up and feel each day, it takes commitment and sometimes it takes work, but it's worth making hope your anchor.
- Holly focuses on the joy, and says that the pure joy of being privileged to visit these places can keep her going a long time.

- Hopeful: If there are human-based problems, there are human-based solutions! We can act now (and people are acting now) to make things better!!
- Depressing: plastics are everywhere. It sucks to see them everywhere.

Mister-Grumpy9 karma

What do you plan to do when you are bored? Did you bring books or anything to watch or maybe video games?

DeepSeaBiologist15 karma

Video games, movies, books, knitting, Virginia does logic problems in an activity book, Nick says "magic the gathering" is a popular card game but Virginia is too old to know that one, Holly is giggling a lot and says she's going to get ripped abs

arcshiki9 karma

What is the temperature and pressure there where they live? Will they survive if brought up to less pressurized depth? Would they expand and pop like baloon?

DeepSeaBiologist11 karma

Temp: nearly freezing. Pressure: a lot. Some things survive for a little. It's less the pressure change that kills them and more the temperature change

benchomacha8 karma

Is the water there pristine or do you find plastics or other pollutants?

DeepSeaBiologist24 karma

Every marine biologist sees trash everywhere. Andy has seen a floating gas can on the surface, others of us have seen toilets and aluminum cans on the bottom, microplastics are in most water samples. Our human footprint extends well beyond our feet and we're all connected

Ok-Feedback56047 karma

Any journal releated to marine biology where we all can learn recent discovered species?

DeepSeaBiologist9 karma

Zootaxa, ZooKeys, others- it all depends on the journal that meets the requirements we have and if they accept our paper, says Jessica. It takes months to years to officially get a new species described, published, and widely accepted

cedley19697 karma

Do you expect to find anything unusual? Perhaps something really primitive like the worm missing link?

DeepSeaBiologist23 karma

It's more like the platypus version of the worm that we would find (instead of the missing link)- Antarctica has been isolated for so long that weird evolutionary things happen there
- Holly

eddie_koala7 karma

What's the level of danger on a mission like this?

DeepSeaBiologist17 karma

Actually not much- the people who run the ship are paid to not let us die and our ops are fairly risk-free


Not a scientist, however I’ve landed on a few glaciers via helicopter. While on top, it was sounds of the glacier that blew my mind. While on the ice shelf, do you hear the ice transitioning/cracking?

What type of indoctrination from old hands does a newbie scientist get when it’s their first time on Antarctic?

Tks from Florida

DeepSeaBiologist13 karma

From Andy: we're on a ship, but we will absolutely hear ice 24/7. Pushing through ice sounds like a giant snow cone, ice cracks if we have to push through big pieces. Alex (ship crew): we hear stuff bouncing off the hull a lot. Says that the stations on land, like McMurdo, are purposely built in stable places so they're quieter.

The senior scientist says "we don't talk about fight club"

Ok-Feedback56046 karma

Explain me in simple and easy: What tests(physical and other)you went through to make it into Antarctica mission?

DeepSeaBiologist8 karma

We didn't have to do any tests, we just had to submit TONS of paperwork

EvenAH276 karma

Also by any chance going to study psychrophiles embedded in Antarctic ice?

DeepSeaBiologist5 karma

Nah, we're doing deep-sea stuff

CommissarGaunt6 karma

Wow, looking at that roster, I don’t think I’ve seen so many Central Michigan people in one place since I went there (I’m old, ‘02 grad). Then again, I’m from Illinois so it’s rare for me to see much any CMU presence here.

Anyway, all of this stuff is really fascinating. Is climate change impacting the way things are done on this trip? Would you be able to tell of a species was previously locked away and unreachable until now?

DeepSeaBiologist8 karma

From Andy: Yes it's impacting how we're approaching this trip- we have one of the lowest ice years in decades so we can go places we couldn't if there were more ice cover. Locked up species doesn't really apply to our stuff, since we're looking at stuff on the bottom of the ocean and not frozen into the ice.

confusionmatrix6 karma

How do you dress / what gear do you need for science in Antarctica?

Can you take a picture of your tools, clothes, diving gear, etc?

DeepSeaBiologist14 karma

Yep! This is our standard, go be outside but not muddy or in an emergency gear https://imgur.com/a/vJdzB5q

confusionmatrix8 karma

Huh, cool. It's weird I think I've worn warmer stuff in Alaska. I recall finding out -40 was the same in F and C there by watching the local weather.

Don't scrimp on the sunscreen!

DeepSeaBiologist8 karma

We all brought lots of sunscreen! It's the end of summer down here right now, so we expect not to have to deal with temps too far below freezing. It's the wind and the wet that may get us later in the fall, we think

ColdPeasMyGooch6 karma

what would you actually be fearful of discovering? and what has been your greatest?

DeepSeaBiologist12 karma

Andy: Every time we go to this kind of place we find new things, which are all the greatest.
Jacob: I am afraid to discover I am very easily seasick.

Nadie_Amalgamous6 karma

How do you get the samples home? Do you fly them with you or ship them with FedEx or something?

DeepSeaBiologist7 karma

The samples will stay with the boat when the scientists get off in South Africa. The crew will take them to Chile, their next stop, and they'll go by air (the same planes as frozen seafood) or ship freight. This whole process takes several months.

mamapootis6 karma

Hey AMA team! Thanks for doing this, such a dream job of mine that you all have! I really enjoyed the answer about the worm which is used as a model for studying alzheimers and parkinsons. Are there any other examples these unique worm-related discoveries? Thank you!

DeepSeaBiologist11 karma

From Nick: It's not worms, but plenty of sponges, including those that are undescribed, produce a lot of chemicals (secondary metabolites) that have potential anti-cancer benefits. Metabolism and aging work real differently in the deep sea.

From Holly: nematodes are used to figure out how humans will be affected by different chemical pollutants in the environment too

and19846 karma

I have a PhD in applied math and am the resident problem solver/data scientist in my engineering department at my university. Do you know of any short term sabbatical appointments in Antarctica or how to get them?

DeepSeaBiologist11 karma

Short answer: no. Virginia knows of past artist residencies but that program has been shut down. Andy says get in touch with people who could use your expertise and start collaborations with them.

xadiant6 karma

I want every team member to tell me an interesting worm fact if possible. I heard that nematodes are actually everywhere. What else?

DeepSeaBiologist11 karma

Holly is mad that that's your most interesting nematode fact. Andy (who studies sea spiders) says sea spiders eat nematodes. Holly says that some nematodes have Princess Leia buns on the side of their heads- they're jelly-filled all-purpose sensory things called amphids

xadiant9 karma

Thanks! Sea spiders look terrifying. But not as terrifying as Antarctic scale worms. I've joined your WhatsApp group; I hope y'all will post some weird looking creatures that'll make me audibly go "what the fuck?"

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

Assignment accepted

N7_MintberryCrunch6 karma

What are you hoping to discover from studying antarctic deep-sea worms?

DeepSeaBiologist11 karma

They're so isolated in Antarctica that it's like an alternate timeline. Piecing together what happens there tells us about how life works everywhere, like fitting a piece into a puzzle and seeing the bigger picture. I know that's vague, I can get more specific if you want

gone_internal6 karma

If you guys could be attacked by an unknown undersea horror, how would you describe it and who would survive?

Really though, what kind of work keeps you busy en route to your site?

DeepSeaBiologist12 karma

Everyone is saying "not me" at once except for Nick, who has watched every scifi movie ever and says this is his dream scenario- he knows exactly what to do. He'd sacrifice someone to the maw and they'd yell "go on without me!" and he'd yell back "I am!"

Watching movies : )

Dyanpanda5 karma

Hello explorers of the deep! I love the strange alienness of the ocean, and am an avid recreational diver. Thank you for everything you do, I am a bit envious :)

What sea creature keeps you up at night? Either from horror, mystery, or just uniqueness,

DeepSeaBiologist7 karma

Tongue-eating isopods (LOOK THEM UP OR ASK ME ABOUT THEM)- Will and Virginia both said this animal in response to this question. Victoria thinks about how sea stars eject their stomachs onto things to eat them. Andy thinks about how his study organisms slurp up things like they're drinking them through a straw. Holly's worms have 3 jaws like the T-rex chompers on a stick we all had as kids, only they're full of razor-sharp teeth. But really small

Choice-Cat-59885 karma

Are you nervous about the drake straight? Are the specific Antarctic works in question near deep sea volcanic vents or are thy another kind of extremophile?

DeepSeaBiologist8 karma

We're not doing the Drake passage, we're going to East Antarctica from New Zealand : )

We're not doing volcanic vents at all- most known vents are around West Antarctica. Our worms are special because they're isolated and in this specific location- we don't really think of them as extremophiles

RobMaple5 karma

Are you going to take any core samples of the mud and if so, how deep into the mud will you go?

DeepSeaBiologist8 karma

Yes. Our biggest cores will go 20-30 cm into the mud- we're very interested in what happens mostly at the top

tRoNz3665 karma

Hello! This is so cool. I’ve been thinking about becoming a marine biologist myself. Graduating this May with my bachelors in a science program and thinking about getting my masters in Marine Science. Do you know any schools that offer a good marine science program? Do you have any tips on which research path I should go down on?

DeepSeaBiologist5 karma

Both the responses below are from folks on this trip. It's great advice!

beckk_uh5 karma

What made you choose this career path?

DeepSeaBiologist24 karma

- Andy: I didn't want to be a medical doctor and my grandparents took me to the ocean when I was 12, plus they bought me a Cousteau picture book. After that it was always something I wanted to do
- Holly: It's like a compulsion- I've always been drawn to the ocean. It makes me happy
- Candace: I was snorkeling one time and someone brought up a fireworm without wearing gloves. I thought that was cool
- Alejandro: I was a political science major with no idea what I wanted to do. Then I met nematodes in Holly's lab and decided it was all really cool
- Emily: There were a bunch of priming factors early on in life- I loved a Nat Geo special on vampire squid and in middle school I had a science teacher that told us about tube worms at hydrothermal vents
- Virginia: I read A Ring of Endless Light and wanted to talk to dolphins with my mind

KamikazeFox_4 karma

Do they pay you well? I've always dreamed of working with animals and marine life. Documenting, observing, collecting data to better understand species. It's hard to imagine doing something I love that also pays well. Just curious. Also, invasive and rude question, but im curious.

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

From Will: Depends on where you work- we could make bank working for an oil company, but we're not
From Holly: I list specific salaries for typical academic positions on my website, go to https://www.hollybik.com/faqs and search for "Can you explain the typical academic career path?"
From Virginia: People think professors are really rich but only some really famous ones with side jobs generally are, and most trainees (what most folks are on this ship) won't go on to be professors

TylerJWhit4 karma

What is something that social media has gotten wrong about marine biology that you think would be good to clear up?

DeepSeaBiologist9 karma

Holly: Only 1% of marine biologists actually get to swim with dolphins in clear, tropical waters
Virginia: I am that 1%
Holly is now yelling at me about the amount of work that is done in the cold and mud and dark

JACKAL00133 karma

How do you get your deep sea ocean mud if drilling platforms (like oil platforms) are banned by the Madrid Protocol? Do you have your own method of extracting this mud? Is it frozen? Do your mud critters come from the bottom of Lake Whillans (I know you stated 'deep sea ocean mud', but figured I'd ask anyway) or somewhere else?

Since you are searching for species in the Eastern part of Antarctica will you be using any of the equipment set up by the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling Project by Montana State University?

DeepSeaBiologist6 karma

Ocean drilling is made to drill way, waaaay deep, like into the rock under the mud. We just need a few centimeters of the mud on top. Also our permit applications have been through sooooo many reviews at this point that we've already passed any protocols that apply to us

curlywurlyonmetummy3 karma

If you pooped right on the South Pole would that technically mean the whole world is now balanced on your poop?

DeepSeaBiologist4 karma

No, it would mean we are unhygienic

datboi61093 karma

what would your advice to someone going into college for marine biology be?

DeepSeaBiologist5 karma

Answered in a few places above, but there are some new people around now. Here's what they say:
- Kyle: don't go in with the expectation that you already know what you want to study most. The ocean is big and full of amazing things!
- Chandler: take any opportunity and say yes often if you can! You never know what you'll be really excited about
- Jessica: There's lots of competition to study the charismatic megafauna, but our inverts are much less of a pigeonhole and they're still amazing!
- Nick: Computer science!
- Will: I came in wanting to study sharks and look where I am (happily) now- be flexible!
- Victoria: go where the expertise is more than following an organism- she got into this because of a jellyfish expert

We are now all ranting about how mean and terrible dolphins are

1_U_Lock_The_Target2 karma

Drake Passage? How rough are the seas?

DeepSeaBiologist3 karma

Quite, says Nick. Andy says the last few passings for him have been flat/glassy, which he feels very lucky about. He knows someone who said people were thrown out of their bunks during one of their crossings! (years ago)

glenninator2 karma

Will you eat this worm once you find it?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma


TreeB72 karma

When you say unique body types what do you mean by that? Can you elaborate?

Do you take live samples with you back home in order to study them?

Whats the weirdest invertebrate types that you have found in the past?

DeepSeaBiologist3 karma

Unique body types: From Andy: polar gigantism is really common in Antarctica (caused by temperatures? slowing of metabolism?). Holly says that she thinks of the body types we'll see as remixes of other species
Weirdest invert: giant isopods

Michigan_Forged2 karma

What is their primary source of carbon?

DeepSeaBiologist3 karma

Will has seen whale falls and marine snow as obvious answers. Victoria says dead organic material for cumaceans (comma shrimp), and Holly seconds that for nematodes (marine snow is gunk that falls from the surface back into the deep sea).

mienshin1 karma

What do the worms taste like, and where are they a delicacy?

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

Holly says worms taste like dirt because they have so much mud inside them on average

Ok-Feedback56041 karma

How much trining period does it require to make an ordinary person to get control over it's breath underwater?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

Depends on how good you want to be at it! A lot for freedivers. We're not diving on this expedition so we don't know much about that

FlorgBlorggins1 karma

Have you ever considered a career as a latex salesman?

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

Vandalay Industries moved into the marine biology field

chess_tears1 karma

Do you have any cool suggestion on books about octopuses?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

How old is the person reading? Holly says here are lots of books about octopuses and consciousness, but we haven't read them because we don't do octopuses

Psychological-Job4581 karma

Were you in George Constanza’s class in college?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

Only some of us are that old

Org_Chemist1 karma

Are you prepared for the maximum gravity earth has to offer?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

well, we WOULD be if we were going to the ARCTIC, where gravity is highest : )

hashter1 karma

How many aliens have you seen down there?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

So far just ourselves

stuff1001 karma

Have you seen that episode of X files with the Antarctic worms? Season 1 episode 8

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

No and we are all mad now. Wait Nick has! Says it's a cool episode but doesn't have much else to say. Oh he says they all kill each other because of a parasite in the ice. Andy is unimpressed- he thinks it's a direct copy of the movie The Thing

Compass_Needle1 karma

My son is mad about sea animals and he loves the idea of going into marine biology when he's older. How did you get into your career and do you have any tips on what subjects at school might be beneficial? Thanks and stay warm.

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

Broad subjects! And more advice has been written above

Neknoh1 karma

If I am not a scientist, nor rich

Is there a way for me to travel to antarctica or the arctic on some sort of expedition?

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

I mean, none of us are rich and we're here : ) (side note: people think professors are rich but only some really famous ones with side jobs generally are. We'd all be a lot richer if we were scientists with natural resource extraction or biomedical companies.) There are lots of fellowships for storytelling, science, art expeditions, etc.- don't get discouraged and network for help!

tragedyfish1 karma

Are you regretting not adding the word 'Serious' to the title of this post?

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

Ha! Nope, it's not accurate, we're not serious : )

sketchisawesome12340 karma

Thoughts on r/BatmanArkham ?

DeepSeaBiologist2 karma

Nice try

breakbeats573-1 karma

Are you gay?

DeepSeaBiologist1 karma

We haven't asked each other yet bc we don't know each other that well yet, but Virginia (typing all these answers, hi) is not : )

josephusflav-17 karma

Do you ever consider getting a actual job?

DeepSeaBiologist10 karma

Do you ever consider asking an actual question?

(oh no I'm afraid now that this answer is mean- imagine that I'm smiling as I answer this? Like in a "we're all friends here hahaha kind of way have a nice day good sir/madam/gentlethem!" kind of way?)