Thursday, May 15, 2014

Experiment Initiation Day

The Rosette's Niskin bottles
before sampling.  Notice how
they are open.
We've had trouble with some Rosette bottles not capturing samples.  With the help of Keith, the ship's resident technician, we were able to figure out why they were not firing.  Some of the cables used to keep the tops of the Niskin bottles open were getting caught in the frame of the Rosette.  Since we are trying to profile the area that we are working in, we had to make sure that we can reliably obtain samples from various depths between 200 meters and the surface.   

Once the Rosette arrived back on deck, we carried out our normal sampling schedule with various teams collecting samples for dissolved gases, nutrients and chlorophyll.  

Charles Wingert and Maribel Albarran 
(RTC-SFSU) collecting samples
from the Rosette's Niskin bottles.

Trey and I continued our chlorophyll filtering and sample reading responsibilities.  Our readings will give the rest of the science party an idea of the relative biomass in the seawater.  After our samples were filtered, we added acetone to release the chlorophyll from inside the phytoplankton's cells. The test tubes were then placed into a freezer. After about twenty hours, we will read the samples in a "dark room" located in the lab.  Due to sensitivity of  these readings, the dark room prevents our samples from being "shocked" with light.

I am adding a 90% acetone solution to
test tubes containing chlorophyll samples.
Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) peered into his microscope to look for Pseudo-nitzschia, a diatom that is known to produce a toxic chemical known as domoic acid.  Part of this research cruise will focus on the whether the production of this toxin will be affected by the acidification of the ocean.  He was interested in the abundance of these plantlike organisms.

As the day drew to a close, there was a sense of excitement.  All of the months of planning and preparation have finally led to this -- experiment initiation day.  Water samples have been collected and all of the principal investigators have set the parameters for experimentation.  Tomorrow, we will begin testing for the effects of acidification and available iron for this particular upwelling zone, near Lopez Point in California.

With the ship rolling and the day's work complete, many of us practiced our knot tying techniques.  Sheet bends, bowlines and clove hitches were just some of the many of the useful knots we learned.  I'm thinking of using a few of these at the start of the next school year as an icebreaker activity.  

Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) and 
Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU) 
looking for Pseudo-nitzschia.

The "dark room"

Julia Matheson and Dr. Charles Trick
(Western University in London, Ontario, Canada)
are reviewing her template used to plot
the size of organisms found in the water column.

The fluorometer used for
our chlorophyll readings,
located inside the dark room.
Trey Joyner is getting a tutorial from Dr. Mark Wells
(Univ. of Maine) on how to tie a sheet bend.
Thanks for visiting my blog.  Be sure to also check out Trey's blog at: Mr. Joyner's Science Shorts.  Stay tuned in for more updates!

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