Saturday, July 23, 2011

Food Web Cruise - Day 2

Hi, I am Claire and I am interning in the Phytoplankton Ecology Lab for the summer as part of the Bermuda Programme. In the lab, I mainly help to prepare Particle Inceptor Trap (PITS) filters for analysis by removing the zooplankton from the filters. I also assist with cleaning, which involves washing the many bottles that are used to collect seawater on research cruises.

I am currently on a two week research cruise onboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer. The goal of the cruise is to collect data to understand plankton food web interactions in oligotrophic ocean regions and the role of plankton in sequestering atmospheric carbon to the ocean interior.

We departed the dock yesterday at 0800 and headed towards Hydrostation S to do our first CTD (connectivity, temperature and depth) cast. We had a slow start as the CTD array was not commutating with the ship so the cast was delayed for a few hours. After the cast, a few plankton net tows were done and then we set out towards an eddy located to the southwest of Bermuda.

Work is done around the clock so there are rarely times when no one is deploying or recovering apparatus, sampling from the CTD or filtering water. And if no science equipment is in the water then the fishing rods go in! We almost had mahi-mahi for dinner, as there were a few circling the ship, but they just wouldn’t bite... maybe tomorrow.

The first deployment of PITS was this morning. The traps will stay suspended at 150, 200 and 300m for 48 to 72 hours before being recovered. The plan is to have four deployments during this cruise; that means we will be kept busy with dismantling, cleaning and rebuilding PITS tubes over the next two weeks.

Hopefully hurricanes and tropical storms will avoid this region of ocean for the next two weeks. I will be quite happy if the sea remains as flat calm as it is now. And even happier if the temperature would drop 10 degrees or so. I think the latter is too much to hope for though!
Doug and Mike with the first PITS deployment

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