Sunday, May 18, 2014

Moving from Lopez Point to Davenport

Taking a break before the next round of sampling.

Last night, we had a brief meeting with Dr. Cochlan (RTC-SFSU) to go over some updates on the research.  As the chief scientist of this research cruise, it is his responsibility to decide what we will do next.  Not only does he manage his experiments--he also collaborates with Dr. Wells (Univ. of Maine) and Dr. Trick (Western Univ.) to make sure that all of the other groups are supported, and are on schedule with their own work.  He informed us that we should expect the sampling schedule to get busier as we head north toward Davenport, which is near Santa Cruz, CA.  A friendly reminder was also given to double check our work and to practice proper record keeping.  It's easy to make mistakes when we are tired or not feeling well.  
Dr. William Cochlan
of RTC-SFSU, is the chief
scientist of this cruise. 

At the moment, we are wrapping up our sampling at an area that is considered to be low in iron.  Unlike other cruises in which steam from station to station (taking samples at every half hour), we operate more like a floating biological laboratory.  We take our time to look at the health of the phytoplankton community and obtain data when possible. The work has this far, gone smoothly, and there is good communication between all on board.

I got up before 6am to read our chlorophyll samples with Trey Joyner (Normal Park Museum Magnet). When samples have to be read, they must first be removed from the freezer and allowed to thaw in the dark room.  After our morning coffee, Trey and I moved forward with reading the samples and prepared for the usual morning CTD cast.

Like yesterday morning, I operated the firing of the bottles.  After we performed our normal CTD cast  (at depths between 200 meters and the surface), we collected our samples, and reset the bottles.  

Within a half hour, we sent the Rosette back into the water--this time to take samples at a five meter depth.  The CTD, is an electronic instrument attached to the Rosette, and is used to measure seawater variables such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and fluorescence.  This depth was determined to be important for future sampling, so all groups on board were asked to take samples.

We use these monitors to watch
for activity on deck.  We communicate
with hand held radios.
Prior to sending the Rosette over the side, Trey had a great idea--to secure his Go Pro camera onto the frame for the purpose of recording the underwater sampling process.  Not long after recovering the Rosette, we gathered around his laptop to watch the video. I was fascinated to see how the bottles snapped shut when I triggered them.  I hope to link his video to this blog in the future, so please check back later!

A view of the incubator experiments
from the upper deck.
Shortly after our second CTD cast, Dr. Wells performed a water collection at a depth of seven meters using a GoFlo bottle.  This bottle is triggered when a messenger weight is sent down a Kevlar line.  Dr. Wells is interested in learning more about how iron is used by phytoplankton along the continental shelf.  Within minutes, Trey and I were filtering and processing Dr. Wells' samples for later analysis.

Later in the day, Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) and Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU) continued to collect from their domoic acid study.  Trey and I filtered their samples just as we did with the others earlier in the day.  Brian then worked with Julia Matheson (Western Univ.) to cross reference the population of phytoplankton he identified through his microscope--specifically for the toxic diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia. Brian indicated that this experiment is in a progressive stage.

One of our incubators, the "Terminator."

Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU) also spent time on deck, checking on her plastic pollution study.  I had the opportunity to observe her extract from her experiment.  She is eager to see some biofilm growth on the plastic material, but this experiment is still in its early stages.  

Chris Ikeda (RTC-SFSU) has been working long hours in the bay of the R/V Melville, preparing for a pH experiments that have been months in the making.  Prior to setting sail, Chris worked with Brian Bill to build a water proof barrier for his sensitive equipment.  It is necessary to be outside because the instruments are linked to one of the incubators on deck.  As I am typing this, Chris is still working outside with Julian Herndon (RTC-SFSU) and Dr. Cochlan, setting up the experiment.  It is cold and dark on deck, and the ship is rocking.  

As of right now, the plan is to sail overnight from our current central California position toward northern California.  We have secured all of our equipment and should reach the next station by sunrise.  The new station is expected to be higher in iron.  I'm interested to see how our data will be compared to our first station.

Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC)
and Julia Matheson (Western Univ.)
are cross referencing their findings. 
Kathryn Ferguson 
Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) are
sampling from their domoic
acid experiment.
The yellow-green shade on the white disc 
is what we see on our filtered samples 

for chlorophyll.
Heather Richard and Charles
Wingert (RTC-SFSU) are
inspecting her plastic
pollution experiment.
An overhead view of Heather
Richard's experiment.
Chris Ikdea (RTC-SFSU) is checking
the pH experiment station.

Thank you for visiting.
I hope that you'll be back tomorrow for more updates.

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