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.
After the stormy start this quarter graced us with, the past few days have been an absolute pleasure. After deciding to lower the mesh surrounding the mesocosm bags, things have been looking up – the weather, our moods, the chlorophyll counts! After spending hours in “The Cave” (the dark-room in lab 6), I decided I needed some sun. I was walking along the shore with a friend when we noticed something: empty shore(?) crab exoskeletons, handfuls of them, floating in the waves. There were quite a few of them bobbing back and forth, so as bored science students are wont to do, we decided to collect and compare them. We noticed that they were all sorts of colours and had slightly variable patterns on their backs. Excited, I took them with me and arranged them all sorts of silly ways in a white wheelbarrow, snapping a few photos before sending them back on their way.
Empty carapices. No crabs were harmed in the making of this photo!
Today is T14, meaning we are almost three fourths of the way to our original end date. There is some talk of possibly going a few days longer if trends are being seen, but we won’t know till we reach T20. After fifteen solid days of sampling early in the morning, I’ve started to lose track of the date and am functioning simply on the recorded experiment day. I’ve talked to others and they seem to be experiencing the same. When you work regularly on a schedule that involves weekends and suddenly you switch to a schedule where Saturday and Sunday are no different from the rest of the week it’s a little disorienting. The days of the week begin to blend together so it becomes hard to figure out whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday. Continue reading
Happy Earth Day! Our second week of sampling has come to an end and today we start T13. The week was full of exciting discoveries, data collection, interactive paper discussions, and additional media interviews (new article to come out Friday…stay tuned!). The team has mastered the sampling procedures and is efficiently processing the samples. Our efficient sampling has allowed us to carefully monitor our pCO2 levels daily. As a result, we have successfully maintained the dissolved CO2 within each mesocosm to the desired treatment levels. Daily maintenance of our pCO2 levels is critical to identifying the effects of low pH on the biomass of the phyto and microzooplankton communities. Past mesocosm studies have let the CO2 levels decline throughout the various phases of the plankton bloom masking the effects of high CO2 conditions. Continue reading
There was definitely a huge learning curve to be able to identify all the varying genera of phytoplankton in our mesocosms but identifying plankton has become my favorite part of my project thus far. Every individual cell is so intricate, and they come in various shapes and sizes. Since this part of my project is not often seen, I figured I’d share a few photos of what I’m seeing.