Now that our presentations have come and gone, we are eagerly finishing our research papers. However, that doesn’t mean that we only have time for work. Sometimes important opportunities interrupt our studies. This morning, Kelly and I were working on our papers when we got a message from Jen saying J-pod (resident killer whale population around San Juan island) was spotted heading north towards Lime Kiln State Park. Within minutes, we were on the road towards J-pod. Imagine the movie Twister, except we were chasing orcas and not tornadoes.
Rounding the corner to Lime Kiln, we spotted J-pod off a bluff and pulled over to the parking lot immediately. We ran down the hill towards the water to get a closer look. Once we realized they were heading more towards Lime Kiln, we ran back up the hill and drove to the lighthouse so we could catch them pass by again. It was a really amazing sight. With only my smartphone in hand, I wasn’t able to capture the complete essence of J-pod. These were some of the ‘best’ photos of the orcas. I can’t think of a better memory to have during our final days at Friday Harbor Labs!
Last Saturday Phil, Jen, and I went on a day trip to American Camp. It was nice to get out and enjoy the sunshine instead of working on processing our data and writing our papers. When San Juan Island was occupied by both English and American settlers, they agreed to set up their camps on opposite ends of the island. American Camp offers nice trails, beautiful views, and plenty of birds that kept Jennifer happy. As we walked, it was fun to stop and read the signs that gave a bit of history about how life was for the American military who resided there in the mid 1800’s. Our favorite bit of history was that a war was almost started because an American settler shot a pig that belonged to an Irishman who worked for the Hudson Bay Company.
Jen brought her binoculars and showed us the variety of birds she found. My favorite was the red-winged black bird. The trails here were nice and lovely, and I’m excited to see what British camp looks like on the north end of the island. Until then, we have a lot of work to do. Our presentations are sneaking up on us, we only have about 2 more weeks to finish our data analysis!
Jen looking at a hawk
Phil getting in on some birding action
While we were all happy to be done sampling, I think we underestimated the amount of work required to properly analyze our data. Most of us have no prior training in statistics (other than Phil, our statistics resource) which makes this process even lengthier and more daunting. We currently have less than three weeks until our presentations. This is a very important time to get work done.
Last night we met as a group to discuss our preliminary results. This is when the work gets exciting as we tread on toward writing our Results section of our papers. It’s been very interesting to see how different data sets correlate between the mesocosm treatments. Slowly but surely, we’ll be able to piece together our stories for our final papers and presentations.
After a month of early mornings and long days, life after sampling has been a joy. Yesterday we (Kelly, Daneil, Amy & Natsuko) woke up bright and early for a different reason – catching a ferry. We decided to come back to Seattle for a weekend visit. Being at Friday Harbor is almost entirely opposite of the hustle and bustle in the city. While it has been nice to sleep in a real bed, take a bath, and see my friends, I’m excited to get back to the labs to finish analyzing my data and make progress on my research paper. It’s a little hard to believe that we only have 4 short weeks until the end of the quarter! We’ll be back Monday, and I can only speak for myself when I say that I’m surprised at how much I’m missing FHL. Leaving in June is going to be much harder than I thought. Who would want to leave such a beautiful setting and awesome peers?
Goodbye for now, FHL
The vessel taking us to Anacortes, WA
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!
Diatoms are an extremely common group of phytoplankton and especially important in marine ecosystems. Other than being arguably the most important primary producers in ocean and freshwater systems, diatoms are also thought to be important in carbon export to the deep. With cell walls composed of silica, diatoms are efficient ‘sinkers.’ Sinking within the euphotic zone is beneficial for two reasons: phytoplankton do not want to be burned by the sun and sinking to the ocean bottom is vital for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. My project at Friday Harbor Labs involves studying how silicification in diatoms may change in acidified waters through measuring biogenic silica (silica produced by biology from dissolved silica in the water column) directly and by attempting to measure these changes using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Continue reading
It’s been almost two weeks since we’ve been at the labs and although it’s beautiful here, a few of us have gotten a little stir crazy. What better cure than to enjoy a night out in the small Friday Harbor town? Even though it’s Friday night and that doesn’t mean much in the middle of a mescosm experiment, our group (minus Andrew) enjoyed a nice dinner at Cask & Schooner Public House & Restaurant tonight. While we love the dining hall at the labs, eating here was a great treat.
While I can’t speak for all of us, I can say that studying at the labs has been nothing short of beautiful. Even though the weather hasn’t been exactly perfect, the setting is ideal for studying and socializing with people who share your interests. Whether it’s hiking the trails, sharing a meal, or working together on the experiment, we’re enjoying each other’s company! We all stay very busy in the lab so it helps to be working on such a beautiful campus.
A view of the Fernald building at Friday Harbor Labs
A double rainbow viewed from the Shore Trail off of the lab’s campus
I plan on sharing more of what I’m working on in my next post. I thought I would break it up by sharing what we do and what we get to see in our off-time. I will be firing up the scanning electron microscope (SEM) on Sunday! Working with the SEM has been a dream of mine for a few years so I’m beyond excited to get to work with one. I can’t wait to share more of my personal experiment!