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Current Sea Conditions
July 14th, 2011
1. Position: Lat:33-32.6N Long:121-10.5W
2. Course: 000 T
3. Speed: 9.1 kts
4. Distance: 114.2 nm
5. Steaming Time: 12 h 36 m
6. Station Time: 11 h 24 m
7. Fuel: 2315 gallons
8. Sky: Overcast, St, Sc 8/8
9. Wind: 330 -T 15 kts
10. Sea: 330 -T 3-5ft
11. Swell: 340 -T 4-6ft
12. Barometer:1018.1 mb
13. Temp: Air: 17.1 c, Sea: 16.1c
14. Equipment Status: Normal
15. Comments: Proceeding north of HARMEX Live Fire Zone.
Scripps Pelagic Invertebrates collection to any of the teachers who would be interested after we return. Just for curiosity sake, Are there any indications that pollution is causing mutations in the live samples you have been collecting? They have not been looking for any mutations and are not seeing any signs of pollution out here. What is the typical temperature difference between the upper and lower gradient of a “front”? The temperature gradient across the front is small, 1 degree C or so, but the real difference across the front is a combination of temperature and salinity that when combined makes different densities of water parcels.How do they plan to use this Seasor data and is it shared with many different research groups at SIO or only the group who has sponsored it? I also notice most of your sampling is done at night… is there a reason for this? The Mocness and Oozeki sampling for the zooplankton and mesoplankton is done once during the day and once during the night. Zooplanton are vertical migrators, and many feed on phytoplankton which live in the euphotic zone ( they need light because they are plants) but light also means that predators can see you…and eat you. So, the zooplankton go down below the photic zone to hide during the day and come up (vertically migrate during the night). The two daily samples allow the scientists to see the daytime biomass and compare it to the night time biomass. They are also looking at diurnal patterns, (when are they migrating) to asses daily rhythymns of grazing. Also, one of the big parts of this research is looking at the different nutrients in the system out here and where and when they are being used. So, the groups looking at silicate, nitrate and C14 uptake need to do their sampling at night and set up their experiments and get them back in the water before dawn. They want to measure the usage of nutrients in the natural system and any light, will affect the rates. So, much of the sampling and collection is done using opaque or dark bottles, the silica experiments are set up and put back out during the night and with all the lights turned off so that when it"s dawn and the sun comes up only the natural light is affecting the rate at which silica is converted to silicate. Dr. Krause is looking at silica uptake and the measurements he is taking are so precise that any change (such as light in the lab on the organisms) that could affect uptake and conversion rates would skew his data. So, even in the isotope van when they are treating the samples with a tracer they have red lights that are not usable by the plankton, so as not to affect the rates. The same is true for the nitrate and C14 sampling which are affected by light. Even when processing some of the samples as in Dr. Landry’s experiments on grazing rates, he needs to use dark bottles and he covers some of his bottles while filtering so that unnatural light does not affect the experiments. What exactly is happening in the “storm” fronts? Is it animal activity, increase in numbers of animals, or actual water moving around instead of air? Great question, and the answer is: all of the above ( don’t your kids just hate it when you say stuff like that? ) But, you have the idea. The “front” is an area where different water masses with different densities (based on temp and salinity) meet and mix, there is a gradient across this area. We are making measurements to determine whether dissolved nutrients (needed by phytoplankton) are elevated at the front because of increased mixing from below the euphotic zone. We are also assessing whether ocean currents at the front cause plankton to aggregate (or disperse), whether zooplankton grazing on phytoplankton is enhanced there, and whether mid-water fish and seabirds are affected. When they analyze the krill is it with the naked eye or under a microscope? What are they looking for? On the ship we are just labeling and preserving them as we take samples. The samples will the analysed ( identified and counted) back at Scripps using the microscope. We are doing some experiments with a couple of species of copepods that I mentioned in an earlier blog. Dr. Ohman offered to give a tour of the
We are doing surveying on the 13 with the MVP , then we have to travel a bit to get out of the military zone that the Navy is using for missile testing and the night of the 13th we will start sampling for Cycle 6.We had dolphins come up next to the ship as we brought the MOCNESS onboard this afternoon, they followed it as we towed it in and they circled around right next to the ship as we worked with the nets. They were Pacific white-sided dolphins and very curious. Still cloudy out here, thick marine layer. We are on the far side of the front right now and the nets don’t have as much in them as before. Everyone is tired and after 4 weeks at sea, we are now counting the days until we get home. There is still the excitement about what we have seen and the data collected and enthusiasm for being able to go back to the lab and start to look over the data and put the pieces together. Although out here the scientists do look at each others data and discuss what they see, it will take time to look over everything and put it in perspective. I am including some diagrams from Dr. Krause this time, one is a basic biological pump that shows the parts of the ecosystem out here and how nutrients cycle through it. The second diagram shows how Silicon (Si) cycles through the ecosystem, as its taken up by diatoms, radiolarians and silicaflagellates. This is to give some idea of just one of the elements they are looking at out here and how it moves through the system. Since we have been looking for plankton while we were out here, I thought I would get everyone excited when I informed them I had brought plankton along…..well My little plankton ( of Spongebob fame), who is modeled after…yes, everybody’s favorite, a copepod. So little plankton is hung in the main lab to remind us of our goal. Last sampling tonight and then clean up tomorrow and we start to head home.
We are starting another sampling cycle after moving to another site along the front. In each cycle samples were taken to measure the net rates of change in the ambient physical and chemical environment and the biological community. Also experimental studies were done to assess the contributions of phytoplankton, bacterial growth, micro- and meso- zooplankton grazing and active vertical migrations to particle export and net community change. Much of the data will be analyzed back in the lab, some of the experiments were processed at sea. The plankton samples were preserved and will be looked at back in the lab. It will be really interesting to see what picture can be put together about biological processes across the front after all the data has been analyzed and compared. Everyone is getting a bit tired, but still enthusiastic about what we are looking at.We will be surveying with the MVP and looking for our last sampling site tonight. The military is doing some practice missile launches and we have to leave the area Tuesday night and Wed until about 5pm. Then we will go to our sampling site and start our next cycle at midnight. The Oozeki brought up some really interesting fish, including a beautiful specimen of a Gulper Eel. Very strange looking critter. He is also the symbol for MBARI ( Monterey Bay Research Institute). They also got a really nice Viper fish and some more dragons. Which I have included in the pictures. The cups were shrunk Tuesday morning and look great. I am also including an example of our sampling schedule. It varies slightly, but not much. Each instrument has to be put in the water by itself, so in order to get all the sampling done for all the groups it’s a pretty full schedule. And the gaps in time are usually used to process stuff in the lab.
Another busy night sampling. Those night CTD casts make for some sleepy scientists. Dr. Mike Stukel seems to always be sampling or processing, sosometimes he has to catch a nap between samples. Jeff Krause and Andrew Taylor are sharing the Analytical Lab, which has now been christened the “Man Cave”… I think that’s because in between those long sections of processing they are watching old episodes of Seinfeld, Taladega Nights and a few others …..sometimes the laughter from the “mancave” is loud enough to hear at the other end of the main lab over all the pumps ! We are beginning to come to the end of the cruise and at least with the plankton samples we can see some differences in the biomass across the 'Front'. Mark Ohman is still excited about the pyrosomes we keep getting, not sure what depth they are coming from, but we keep seeing them.
We towed Seasoar all day on the 5th and finished about noon on the 6th. Kind of quiet while everyone finished some analysis, or read, worked on other work. Scientists had a meeting to determine where to start the new cycle. There have been quite a few small sea birds coming on board at night. They just fly in , land on the deck and look for a place to tuckthemselves in. We put out a box to keep them in until morning, then release them. The restech doesn’t want them to get into any of the equipment and hurt the birds or the equipment. Once they land on deck they are easy to pick up and place in the box. We have seen quite a few whales out here as well, from far aways so we are not sure what type, probably fins, perhaps blues. During the MOCNESS late last night there was a sea lion swimming around just trying see if we had anything interesting. But plankton is not on his menu. The seasoar plot is a 3 dimensional picture of temperature, salinity, fluorescence, and density. This gives an overview of water masses, conditions and biomass. Fluorescence is a measurement of chlorophyll in the water which is an indicator of phytoplankton. Follow this series of photographs. Can you describe the characteristics of the water mass they are surveying? Please send us a comment...