Ol’ Yeller is rightly named because of the prominent bright yellow floats that cap the sophisticated group of water collectors arranged neatly within the sturdy frame. From a distance this apparatus looks extremely complicated. When you get close a close up view, the complexity quadruples. And, Ol’ Yeller really does suck; two rings of syringes are programmed to suck water from a closed system at the sea floor. (Confused? I’ll try to paint the picture)
The team sets it up
push it overboard
The entire thing is spring loaded as it leaves the dock and settles to the bottom. To allow for the settling of any disturbed sediment, its’ two bottomless, otherwise sealed boxes, are programmed to spring into the sea floor one hour after the device reaches the bottom. At that point the environment in each box is closed to outside influences. Now, with the box settled into the sea floor, the water in each box is injected with a tracer and the sucking begins. Samples of water are collected with the help of a series of spring-loaded syringes connected to small plastic tubing. Each syringe is programmed to suck a sample from the box at a precise time during the night. Having the two boxes programmed to take samples at the same time helps with quality control and validity of the samples. (Confused? It took me days to figure this much out.)
Ol’ Yeller, along with the other devises on this cruise are designed to answer questions about how oxygen in its’ many forms are consumed, expelled, and transferred throughout the ocean. The question remains, is the ocean a CO2 sink, takes in more CO2 then it releases, or, is the ocean a CO2 producer, giving off more CO2 then it consumes?