Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Echinoblog In Japan 2015: A Visit to JAMSTEC!!

Greetings to everyone from Japan! Yes. I missed last week.. transit and jet lag just wiped me out..but this week.. something a little longer and .. SPECIAL!!

An exclusive look at specimens and technology at JAMSTEC, the Japanese Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology!! 

I'm here visiting the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan's equivalent to its Smithsonian or National Museum of Natural History, where I am studying Japanese starfishes and trying to identify the total number of species in the region. This includes the discovery of new species, clarifying the taxonmy and relationships of known species and etc..

Some of my earlier efforts in Japan from 2014 included some stuff from here and stuff here  and even more here.

Fortunately, the NMNS has some ties with the oceanographic institution JAMSTEC, which is sort of the Japanese version of Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution or NOAA...  and so, a visit!

My gratitude to Dr. Toshihiko Fujita for arranging the visit! And my thanks to his student Miki for making sure that I did not get lost in the THREE hour trip via the Japanese rail system to get there!

Deep-Sea Invertebrates!! 
The JAMSTEC collections had many interesting specimens.....

In addition to my research, I also got to see some unusual species I don't ordinarily get to see.. for example the armored snail, Cyrsomallon sp. , which you can read about here... 
Along side a 500 yen coin for scale...

Later that day, we got a fantastic opportunity to tour the two JAMSTEC research vessels! 

Shinkai 6500!! 
Most famous of course is the world famous Shinkai 6500, one of the few manned subs left in the world... which was being refit.. 
but still VERY impressive! 
You may remember that the Shinkai recently returned from a world tour in 2013!! ! during the Quelle 2013 expedition

The Research Vessels! 
the R/V Kairei (Japanese for ridge), which operates the research ROV Kaiko 7000.  I've never seen what shipboard life has been like on board vessels in other countries, so this was pretty neat! 
The ROV Kaiko 7000 was not on board the Kairei.. but you could see that its a HUGE submarine robot!!  That blue carrige on the left?? THAT is where the Kaiko usually sits before being deployed by the crane on the right...

Here's the Bridge
Here is their ROV control room.. normally completely darkened with big computer/TV screens... NOTE how clean the floor is.. The WHOLE computer and video room is IMMACULATE...
It is kept SO clean, that you actually take your shoes off before entering INTO the control/video ROV room!!!  Which frankly.. was a first for me...

MESS HALL! Yes. they have a rice cooker...

In the Mess Hall, one of the things I loved was that ALL of their tea pots, cups, etc. have the JAMSTEC logo on them!!! How cool is that??

The bathrooms were different compared to a western ship, which typically only use showers. Here's the men's common area bathing room.. two showers PLUS a BATH TUB!  Its customary to take a nice hot bath in Japan.. but still, a shift from what I'm accustomed to...
Still... a bathtub at sea?? Sure. I'd try it!

And of course, a highly sophisticated Japanese electric toilet!!!

The R/V Kaiyo (Japanese for ocean)
Is a bit different..a catamoran with twin hulls... which is similar in overall morphology to the R/V Western Flyer operated by MBARI.. The Kaiyo is a bit older and due to be retired next year..

But is a VERY stable platform...
Aft View...

Miscellanous Fun Stuff seen around JAMSTEC

1.  Deep-Sea Origami Invertebrates: (Giant Isopod, Dumbo octopus and crab below)

2.Deep Sea chemosynthetic clams on display in the JAMSTEC exhibition halll

3. A life size reproduction of the Shinkai observation module!!
4. Cool Gift Shop stuff including pencils with CORE sample markings!!   
Note that the R/V Chikyu is yet ANOTHER one of the JAMSTEC research vessels, which is the platform for the Ocean Drilling Project! 

I am EXTREMELY grateful to my JAMSTEC hosts: Dr. Katsunori Fujikura, who provided the tour as well as Dr. Takashi Hosono and Marika Ichiyanagi of the JAMSTEC data management group!! 

No comments: