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Images: A Journey to the Ocean's Twilight Zone

To stay awake analyzing as many thorium isotope samples as possible, Ken Buesseler and colleagues brought espresso makers and good coffee out to sea, earning his laboratory the nickname ?Cafe Thorium.? (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Particles sinking from sunlit surface waters through the ocean?s dimly lit twilight zone are swept sideways by currents. Conventional moored or tethered traps designed to catch the particles are like ?rain gauges in hurricanes,? said WHOI biogeochemist Ken Buesseler. He and engineer Jim Valdes are designing a new-generation neutrally buoyant untethered vehicle called the Twilight Zone Explorer, which will be swept along with the currents. It will surface periodically to relay data via satellite. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This "quilt" of microscopic ocean organisms collected during the 2005 VERTIGO cruise to the North Pacific was created by Mary Wilcox Silver, professor of oceanography at the University of California, Santa Cruz. (Mary Wilcox Silver, University of California, Santa Cruz)