Hello again from the R/V Atlantic Explorer.
It's been a busy few days for the PEL group. Yesterday we had a two hour delay in getting started due to problems with the winch. Luckily we have a very skilled crew who where able to take it to pieces and fix it. It was a real team effort, even the Captain joined in.
When the winch got fixed we were able to collect water for our project looking at Nitrogen use in marine phytoplankton. We collected water from three different depths and added a variety of nutrients to the samples, then incubated them for four hours. This gives the phytoplankton time to use the nutrients we added. The water is then filtered and collected, some of this will then be analyzed by our lab and part of it will be sent to our colleagues at William and Mary for analysis.
Yesterday's weather was terrible, with torrential rain at one point. This didn't seem to put the birds off though as the first sighting of an Arctic Turn this year was recorded.
Today was spent collecting water for three linked projects looking at the DNA of phytoplankton. This work investigates the differences in DNA of phytoplankton living at different depths in an environment with a limited supply of nutrients. This work is a collaboration with group from UCI.
Both these projects get carried out once a month on the BATS cruise. The rest of the people on the cruise are mainly working on the hydrographic, chemical and biological parameters that get measured every month. This includes collecting zooplankton, measuring the oxygen and carbon in the water and also the salinity or saltiness of the water.
We finished all our cruise sampling today so tomorrow we are going to make a start on preparing some samples for analysis once we get back to the lab.
Today is the Captains birthday and our two excellent chefs made a delicious cake to celebrate. I had a large piece, possibly a bit too large given the two pieces of amazing baklava I have already eaten today. It's hard work though being at sea so I feel we need all the cake and good food to keep our energy up.
Our hard work is more or less over but the BATS team will be working through the night sampling the water and collecting the PITS tubes.