Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Bodega Line

My alarm started chirping at me just before 6am.   My state room was dark and Trey already headed upstairs to the lab so that he could finish his blog entry.  I just laid there...and listened to the water slap up against the side of the ship.  It was so rhythmic that I just wanted to lay in my bunk and time the crashing of the waves. Even in the dark, my eyes were sore, and tired from staying up late the night before.  Then I started to think about home, my family, and how much I miss them.  I am sure that everyone on board--the scientists and the ship's crew alike, feel the same way.  Then, my alarm went off again.  Today was going to be a big day and it was time to get after it.  As of today, we've been at sea for a week.  We're not just colleagues, we've become a family aboard the R/V Melville.  

Early morning whale watching.

 I got dressed, and made my way up to the aft deck for some fresh air.  That's when Tom Brown, an OS on the R/V Melville, showed Trey and some pictures he took this morning of a humpback whale.  Perfectly timed, they showed the whale breaching off of the starboard side of the ship.  The news spread about the sighting, and quickly, scientists assembled on the deck to look for it.  

Kit Angeloff, a volunteer
is collected samples for
dissolve inorganic carbon.
Dr. Cochlan and Chris Ikeda
(RTC-SFSU) are monitoring thier
ocean acidification experiment.
Today's plan was to sample the "Bodega Line," an area just north of San Francisco.   This location is considered to be a high iron area, with cold nutrient rich water upelling to the the surface.   We started the line in deeper water, past the continental shelf where the water is cold and very blue.  By 8am, we Rosette in the water and all samples collected.  Thirty minutes later, we casted once again.  One of first people on deck to sample from the Rosette is Charles Wingert (RTC-SFSU).  Charles spends most of his days in the rad van, wearing a white lab coat and blue booties.  He uses radioactive tracers to test the photosynthetic efficiency of algal cells. One area of particular interest in this project, is to learn more about how carbon is taken up my phytoplankton with respect to various environmental factors such as pH, temperature, and nutrient availability.  

Charles Wingert (RTC-SFSU) is working
in the rad van.
Hannah Glover (Univ. of Washington/
NOAA-PMEL) and Kathryn Ferguson
(NOAA-NWFSC/FSU) are pouring
samples from the domoic acid experiment.
We then moved away from the deeper water, toward shore.  By noon, we were sampling again.  There was a flurry of activity in the lab with samples being collected and processed, along with the testing of ongoing time sensitive lab experiments.  

Trey spent most of his day helping with deck-board tasks such as operating the winch and recovering the Rosette.  I was inside the lab, filtering and reading chlorophylls.    I was surprised at how many I processed during that time -- especially considering how much the ship was rocking .  When I was finished, I had to sit outside to get some fresh air.  The combination of the ship moving, reading samples in the dark and the smell of acetone had left me feeling queasy.  I was not alone in getting some fresh air...

I am collecting samples
for chlorophyll analysis.
We steamed further in toward shore and finished the line with a third station positioned over the continental shelf, with a depth of about 100 meters.  Most of us were done with our sampling  by 8pm.  

As I reflect on my day, I've determined that I read 48 chlorophyll test tubes in 52 minutes and  filtered almost 100 samples in ten hours.  While I am done with the work day, others have started preparing for tomorrow morning.  It's now a quarter to midnight, and Julian Herndon (RTC-SFSU) is still making solutions for his nutrient analyzer.  He's been working since breakfast.

A view from Julian Herndon's  workspace.
We are currently steaming toward Cape Mendocino.  The winds are expected to pick up, thus making the ride even more turbulent.  Tonight, we've already had one heavy door slam shut, twice.  Inside of the door, there is a sign that warns of the door closing when due to the ship's motion -- that we should watch our fingers.  We've decided to secure that door shut...just in case.  

Be sure to check back here again tomorrow.  Also make sure to check out Trey Joyner's blog at http://scienceshorts.blogspot.com.  You can read up on how is doing after losing a tooth as sea.  
Unfortunately, we don't have a dentist on board!

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