T21 has been that magic number for the OA students since we learned that it was going to be our last day a week ago. After three weeks, it seems like we’ve been doing this forever – waking up and being on the dock by 8:30, rain or shine. We’d laugh at the (sometimes ridiculous) LICOR readings, chat around the sampler, exclaim over the weather, look for sea creatures around the dock, and try to catch photos of our tech, Barbara, and her seriously awesome sunglasses.
In some ways, I’ll really miss that – the familiarity of it all, how we’ve bonded over this experience and each found a bit of a niche in the early-morning dock environment. But I won’t miss waking up at 7:30 every morning, regardless of the day of the week. I’m looking forward to having weekends again. I’m also excited to begin looking at the data we’ve been gathering for the last 22 days, where before I’ve been too busy processing samples to truly look at and analyze the data we’ve been collecting.
Ever since Amy and I rowed to town and saw a small waterfall, we’ve wanted to find the source. We began our expedition with Natsuko and Collin after dinner. Walking toward the entrance to Friday Harbor Labs we searched for a path to lead us to our destination. After a bit of walking we found a path and began to explore.
Natsuko looking out over the Harbor
Initially, we tried to head down toward the water, but the path was steep and we didn’t want to risk getting caught at the bottom when sunset arrived, so we took a path heading in the opposite direction. This path happened to be a pleasant surprise. We found a bunch of young Madrona and the majority of an animal skeleton before heading back.
Our experiment began 20 days ago with dry clothes and warm hands. Our final sampling days are now upon us and we have learned to deal with numb limbs and wet clothes. Most of us can hardly believe that only 20 days ago our knowledge of mesocosm studies was diminutive. Now as the experiment draws to a close we find ourselves engaged in conversations planning additional mesocosm experiments, commenting on ways to improve our protocol, and saying farewell to our international colleagues. The apprenticeship provided critical training in experimental design, best practices in ocean acidification research and interdisciplinary collaboration with experts in the ocean acidification field.
As we launch into May we were eager to start the analysis and piece together our story. Most of our time will be spent getting caught up on processing samples, comparing our data for statistical differences, and composing the first draft of our manuscripts (coming soon to the new Ocean Acidification Journal!). Throughout the experiment we were aware of the daily chemical trends (i.e., chlorophyll, pCO2, alkalinity, nutrients) taking place within each treatment. However, after spending the past 3 weeks hidden away in a dark room illuminated only by a small night light I am excited to see if any changes have taken place among the biological communities. Soon I will be able to determine if high CO2 has an effect on the abundance and biomass of the microzooplankton. Continue reading
The end is near! It has been a long few weeks but I’m going to miss sampling once it’s over. I wont miss the cold or the rain but I will miss the gorgeous scenery and eccentric discussions with my OA team on the dock.
Phytoplankton counts have gone up since we removed the mesh caps. I’m especially happy because it has made counting phytoplankton under the microscope more exciting. With my spare time, I’ve decided to go back and count more volume to get a more accurate picture of the phytoplankton community. The near empty slides from T0 make me appreciate the diverse and abundant community we have now even more.
To continue my trend of sharing what I see under the microscope, I’m sharing the perfect ciliate that I found while counting T16 today.
Yesterday was a bittersweet day here at Friday Harbor Laboratory. We are three sampling days away from finishing the experiment, but we also said goodbye to the visiting Korean scientists from Dr. Kitack Lee’s group in Pohang, Korea. It has been really interesting to learn about Dr. Kitae Park’s previous work with DMS (and DMSP), a sulfur compound emitted by phytoplankton. DMS is also believed to be what gives the ocean it’s distinct aroma. Dr. Park along with techs Bokyung Kong and Miok Kim have been with us since prior to the mescosm experiment’s start. Yesterday, as they were packing up their lab equipment, Dr. Park gave Andrew and me each a pack of Korean packaged KimWipes.
I sample biogenic silica from the Niskin bottle every other day. The group working with samples from the Niskin is small compared with the integrated samplers. Dr. Park and Miok were down there every morning to sample for DMSP and DMS. Andrew, Amanda, and Barbara are also Niskin samplers. Andrew and Kitae became fast friends down on the dock. During a field trip to Limekiln State Park, I snapped a picture of Dr. Park and Andrew enjoying a conversation by the water.
Dr. Park came down for sampling this morning to help the Niskin group, and taught me how to properly use the bottle. Lab 2 felt a bit empty without their group. We wish them safe travels and look forward to reading more about their research in the future!
One of the benefits of conducting research at a world class facility such as Friday Harbor Labs is meeting visitors staying at the Whiteley Center. Advertised as a refuge for established scholars, it is a lovely retreat for those needing space to work. The benefit to the students is the opportunity to meet interesting people from many disciplines. While I have been here I have had the pleasure of dining with poets, writers, a philosopher and, today, a paleontologist from the University of Montana. George Stanley, Jr. is on sabbatical and is staying at the Whiteley Center for a week. He took the time out of his day to speak with our research team about sea chemistry changes and biotic consequences using ancient reef ecosystems as a model. He is the originator of the ‘naked coral hypothesis’ which states under acidic ocean conditions it may be possible for codrals to change and lose their skeleton and evolve to grow it again when the pH increases once more. Continue reading
Yesterday, we met as a group to discuss our plans for the coming month. As of now, Tuesday, T21, will be the final sampling day of our experiment. This decision was made based on the prediction that the nitrate levels will drop to zero at this time and we only have enough supplies for 22 days total. It is interesting that sometimes the lack of supplies limits the duration of an experiment. However, we will still get enough data to successfully write our research papers. Once sampling is done, we will begin analyzing data and writing our papers. All of us will be requiring data from each other, so it will be extremely important to meet as a group to collaborate and discuss our findings. For my dilution project, the phytoplankton and micro-zooplankton counts and biomass (from Amy and Phil’s projects) will be necessary for me to analyze in order to determine reasons for changes in their growth and grazing rates. After the experiment is done, we plan on going on a few field trips and exploring the island more; we definitely deserve to have some fun after all of our hard work.