Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Do We Have Here?

We're not the only ones interested in science.
After a day of rolling waves, we rose to a much calmer sea state.  We were eager to start the day by sampling from our experiments.  Although it is still early to report any findings, we still have to obtain data in order piece everything together.    

Today, I was behind the controls 
of firing bottles on the CTD.
Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU) sampled from her plastic pollution experiment.  She explained to me that her experiment could last for the entire time of the cruise.  According to the scientific papers she is using, she may not be able to see any biofilm growth until a week after the start of the experiment.   She's interested in researching how toxic metals can be carried by plastic debris in the ocean -- becoming concentrated in organisms within the food web.  Birds such as the albatross, can mistake plastic debris for food and end up very ill, possibly resulting in death.  She expects to see some growth in about a week, followed by a spike in weeks three and four of the experiment.  The tough part is waiting and hoping that it will work.  In the meantime, she will continue to observe and record her data.

Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC) and I are filtering
samples from our daily morning CTD cast.
During our daily morning chlorophyll sampling, Trey and I noticed that our filters were not as green as they had been two days ago.  I wonder if that might have something to do with the wave action that we've experienced in the past two days.  We'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if the readings support what we saw on our filters.  Every night, Dr. Cochlan, our chief scientist, looks at the data we've collected to get a picture of what the biomass for this station might be.  This is a part of the blueprint for which our next sampling time is based on.

Hannah Glover 
(Univ. of Washington/NOAA-PMEL) 
is seen here sampling for 
dissolved inorganic carbon,
also known as DIC.

Morning CTD sampling with Dr. William 
Cochlan (RTC-SFSU) supervising the process.

Joselynn Wallace (University of Rhode Island), found a small creature during her filtration.  In the middle of the filter, was a fairly large copepod.  Copepods are small crustaceans that are commonly found in seawater.  Most people don't realize that they have probably swallowed a few of these little critters during their summer trips to the beach.  Not to worry though, they are harmless.   Check them out online...they are often overlooked and play an important role in the marine food web.

Can you see the copepod on the filter?  
Test tubes with samples of chlorophyll. 
They will have 90% acetone added to 
them and will be read within the 
next twenty hours.

Trey Joyner 
(Normal Park Museum

is inspecting 
under the microscope.
I am adding 90% acetone
to our samples.
The acetone 
is used to extract
Laura Filliger is a PhD student
from the Univ. of Rhode Island.
Here she is filtering seawater.
Her samples will be frozen and
transported back URI
for DNA analysis.

These graphs represent four variables we look at during a CTD cast. 
We look for fluorescence (green), salinity (orange), temperature (red) and 
oxygen (blue).  They give us a profile of the water column.
After lunch, Trey and I were asked to help Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) and Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU) with their pH/domoic acid experiment.  They needed their samples filtered and stored for analysis.  Brian and Kathryn are interested in researching the effects of pH on domoic acid production in diatoms such as Pseudo-nitzschia.  Domoic acid is a neurotoxin that is commonly taken in by filter feeders and is known to cause people to get sick and die.  Both of these scientists spend most of their days looking into a microscope, identifying and calculating the abundance of these potentially toxic diatoms.  This is the third cruise in which I have worked with Brian--the previous two involving research on harmful algal blooms in the Pacific Northwest.  Kathryn is originally from Florida, but has also lived in Maryland.  The path she has taken to this type of research was born out of her love for the ocean.  She is a Hollings Scholar from Florida State University, but is working on this project with NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

We expect tomorrow to be a very busy day.  Many experiments will be tested, which means that Trey and I will be called on to filter, store and process all of their samples.  We work well together and have found a rhythm when it comes to running samples.  This may be his first cruise, but he has done a great job and has fit right in with the science party.  

Please be sure to stop by again for more updates.
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You can also follow us on Twitter:  @SoCalCostello and @t3joyner.

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