Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trophic BATS: Post # 4 (Day 2)

With our first full day out at sea, the Trophic BATS research team began our first full suite of experiments and measurements. Each day and with occasional edits, the “Science Schedule” is posted on the ship’s white board so that crew and colleagues can see the daily event order of science. Today, it looked something like this:

Time – Event Type – Measurements (Scientist in Charge)
0100 – CTD 500m – Pigments (Goldman)
0230 – CTD 200m – Production/Grazing Cast (Richardson/Neuer)
0500 – Deploy Production Array (Richardson/Neuer)
0600 – Deploy 24hr Sediment Trap Array (Bell)
0800 – CTD 500m – Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (Condon)
1000 – Net Tows x2 – Zooplankton (Condon)
1200 – CTD 1000m – Core Cast (Nutrient stocks, pigments, Thorium) (Bell/Lomas)
1400 – In-Situ Pumps – 4hr Large Volume Pumping (Baumann)
1830 – CTD 3000m – Bacteria Experiment (Lomas/Condon)
2200 – Net Tows x2 – Zooplankton (Condon)

Marine Technician Emily Dougan (BIOS) and Able Seaman June Muras (R/V AE) deploy the CTD.

Time at sea is certainly expensive, so scientists must make sure to fully utilize any possible chance for sampling and the collection of data. We may refer to part of this as wire time, which refers to operations such as a CTD deployment, zooplankton tow, or an in-situ pump as an active use of one of the ships hydraulic winches and lines. If we are not moving to and from station, the plan is to have these wires in operation. In between the timing of events, scientists prepare materials for sample collection, sample from the CTD while other events are in progress, and process the collected water/net tows.

Tomorrow, the sequence of events is generally similar, however, instead of beginning production and grazing incubations, we will recover the arrays and the Richardson and Neuer teams will start their long morning of processing all of their samples. Today and tomorrow’s schedule will repeat itself hopefully 4 times total - twice inside of the eddy and twice outside of the eddy, to compare the differences within the water structure.

Personally, days like today, where the workday is full and the ocean and sky are calm and bright are incomparable for a working environment. In the past 3 years, I have likely spent about 4.5 months aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer so it has been somewhat like a second home while working in Bermuda. Getting a chance to work out at sea provides a reminder for much of the research group about their passion for science.

Work seems to not feel so much like “work” and somehow even the occasional leisure time turns into scientific inquiry. Jojo, the ship’s incredible bosun snagged and reeled in a beautiful bonito this afternoon. Shortly after its time on deck, a knife was in the back of the fish’s head. The Condon group, which is investigating the role of zooplankton within the food web, will take a small section of fish meat along with the bonito’s otolith (ear bone, used to determine age) for isotopic analysis to determine the fish’s food source and elucidate its role in the food web. We’ll be providing a Q & A with Dr. Condon on tomorrow’s post, so stay tuned!

Grad Student Eric Lachmeyer (USC) and Research Technician Molly Bogeberg (DISL)

Doug Bell
Research Technician, Phytoplankton Ecology Lab
In need of a fresh pair of socks

1 comment:

  1. awesome that Jojo's fishing skills have come to good use, besides a yummy dinner! Say HI to the crew for me.