Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Splitting the Strait

View of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington state.
Tatoosh Island is on the right.

We woke up to stillness.  As luck would have it, we missed the anticipated bad weather as it stayed offshore.   The R/V Melville slowly sailed on the glass-like Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Washington state was on the starboard side, while Vancouver Island was on our port side, blanketed in mist.  

Joselynn Wallace (URI), Rachel Vander Giessen (UW-APL)
and Hannah Glover (NOAA-PMEL) are processing their collections.

We were on station for our one and only CTD cast of the day at 08:00.  As the Rosette was cast over the side, many scientists inside of the lab used the time to get caught up with their data.  Everywhere I looked, it seemed like someone was transferring data from a notebook onto a laptop.  During a cruise, most of the collected data is recorded into lab notebooks.  Due to the attention devoted to running the experiments, there's not a lot of time to transfer the data into spreadsheets and other data processing programs. Sometimes, usually late at night, I might find someone entering data into their computers.  When I say at night, I mean at 22:00 to 00:00...after the normal 14 to 16 hour work day. 

Andrew Schellenbach is inputting data from the "FIRe" Fluorometer.
Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU) is 

reviewing data from her plastic 

pollution experiment.

Julian Herndon (RTC-SFSU) was up early this morning to run his LACHAT nutrient analyzer.  Even though the CTD casts are winding down, he was still running samples.  He spent most of his day, monitoring the robotic siphon that drew and deposited fluids into channels that process and reveal the nutrient concentrations of each sample.  Maribel Albarran (RTC-SFSU) assisted Julian by making the solutions required for the analyzer.  This is a time consuming process, which requires steady hands and a lot of patience.   

Julian Herndon (RTC-SFSU) analyzes samples or nutrient concentrations.
Maribel Albarran (RTC-SFSU)
prepares solutions for

nutrient analysis.

L to R: Dr. Charles Trick (Western Univ.),
Chris Ikeda (RTC-SFSU) and
Maribel Albarran (RTC-SFSU).
Vancouver Island is in the background.

Today was also the last day for our third acidification batch collection.  By the time Chris Ikeda (RTC-SFSU), along with Maribel Albarran, and Dr. Charles Trick (Western Univ.) gathered around the on-deck incubator, the morning haze burned off and fully revealed the sun for the fist time in days.  There was a sense of relief as they removed the experimental water from the incubator one last time.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this has never been done at sea.  Even though it will take months before all of the data can be processed, the hard part was done.  The final samples were taken inside where Trey (Normal Park Museum Magnet) filtered them, while I read chlorophyll samples from the previous day.  

The last time I get to don
the life vest.
We had our last fire drill at 12:30.  Unlike the last time the bells sounded, there was relief in knowing that this was just a drill.  We mustered in the main lab as the R/V Melville's ResTech, Keith Shadle, reminded us to stay safe and remain aware of the dangers that still exist while working on a ship. Even though we are near the end, most accidents tend to happen when people are tired. While we were all gathered in the same spot and time,  Dr. Cochlan (RTC-SFSU) took the opportunity to let the group know that we will disembark in Seattle only after the ship's cabins and lab spaces were left cleaner than when we found them.  After the all clear was sounded (three straight bells), Chris Ikeda and Dr. Trick headed back out on the aft deck to start emptying and cleaning the incubator.

L to R: Keith Shadle (R/V Melville),
Dr. Wells (Univ of Maine) and
Trey Joyner (NPMM).

With some extra time to spare, Dr. Wells (Univ. of Maine) and Trey decided to send his GoPro camera down the GoFlo's line.  By then, water was clear and the sun was almost overhead -- a perfect time to try to film the process of deploying a messenger weight down the line.  They sent his camera down twice... The first time, the camera was attached directly to the weight, the second time, Trey and Dr. Wells attached an L-shaped frame to the GoFlo bottle for a side shot video.  Keith Shadle was there to help with the process while I operated the A-frame.  According to Trey, he was pleased with the footage that was recorded. I hope to link his videos to my blog after we return to shore--most likely during the summer.

Dr. Cochlan (RTC-SFSU) is
filtering for lipids.
As the evening draws to a close, there is still a lot of action going on inside the lab.  Dr. Cochlan has been filtering for lipids for the past two hours.  Brian Bill has been filtering for carbon and nitrogen for more than an hour.  Alongside Brian, is Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU), who is filtering for domoic acid, saxitoxin, and okadaic acid. Dr. Wells is back at his laptop, where he was earlier this morning, entering data. Julian Herndon is still running nutrient samples on his analyzer and Rachel Vander Giessen (UW-APL) is in front of the CTD computer, reviewing cast data, planning for tomorrow. Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU) is checking on the beads of her plastic pollution experiment while Trey is sitting beside me, going through thousands of movie and picture files. 

Dr. Wells (Univ. of Maine) is
reviewing his data.

The plan for tomorrow has yet to go up on the board.  As we continue into the Strait, we will start to clean and pack equipment for unloading on Friday.  Even though I find it hard to believe that the cruise is almost over, I find it even harder to believe the amount of time that will be spent after the cruise--processing data, inventorying chemicals, and returning lab equipment back to their respective homes in California, Maine and Ontario.  Somehow in all of that happening, time is also needed to piece all the data together, to help us better understand what is happening to our ocean.  

Thanks for reading.  We hope to have you come back tomorrow!  

Three more days until we reach Seattle!  

Chief scientist Dr. William Cochlan 

and his research associate Julian 

Herndon (RTC-SFSU)
Maribel Albarran (RTC-SFSU) and
Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU)
on the deck of the R/V Melville.

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