Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 6 (Aug 4 2012)

Today was a day dedicated to getting rid of bizillions of ctenophores out of our mesocosms.  Ctenophores grow fast and eat everything.  We'd have no experiment left if we left them in the bags.  This required special techniques for either removing or destroying them without doing harm to anything else.  At least they are quite a bit bigger than phytoplankton and copepods (the larger zooplankton that we'd like to stick around).

We also had to "fish" for copepods and set them up in an aquarium to be ready to add back to some of the mesocosms the evening before we start the experiment.  This involved doing vertical hauls in the bay with a plankton net, towing a plankton net behind the boat, and really "basically everything it was possible to do with a plankton net short of wear it as a dress" (so spoke Morten).  The end result.... we very very very very possibly now have in the wetlab downstairs the 1.2 million copepods we need.  And, as Morten pointed out, with the ctenophores fished out (the ctenophores will eat copepods) but, in the bags we would like to become copepod-dominated, the copepods not, we have created little safe havens for copepods.  Copepod sanctuaries, if you will.  We're feeding the phytoplankton nutrients, so they will grow, so there is plenty of food for the copepods.  And, yes, the ctenophores are gone.  Copepod heaven.

Aug 4 2012a-  For the last few days, Rudolph has been setting big stuff up in the labs for us, like the pure water system and (pictured here) the nutrient autoanalyzer.  The nutrient autoanalyzer has not been behaving and had eaten up a lot of Rudolph's time (at some point we were expecting to look out from the downstairs lab and see it going past the window).  "Eighteen years I have been bringing it out on expeditions with me, and it has ALWAYS worked," Rudolph said.  "I don't know what is wrong with it."  But, eventually, after he opened it up for the umpteenth time and just looked around and then shut the door, it started to work properly.  "I don't like it," he told me.  "I don't understand why it has now started working.  I'd feel better if I had figured out what the problem was."

Aug 4 2012b-  It would be unfair to say that Rudolph has been alone in his struggles with the autoanalyzer.  Manon has been there the entire time, providing support.

Aug 4 2012c-  Look!  I'm in a car!  And we're going shopping!!!!  After not even a week of being here at this isolated location, I almost forgot to bring money with me.  Money?  What is money for???

Aug 4 2012d-  The cash register at the hardward store.  It even still works.  The nice man gave us a demonstration.

Aug 4 2012e-  Supplies to keep up troop morale.

Aug 4 2012f-  It had been ten years since my last sunglasses purchase (the red, sparkly pair bit the dust last summer), and we do sometimes spend all day outside on the water, so I thought, why not?  They were less than €10.

Aug 4 2012g-  Carboys for Rudolph and Manon.

Aug 4 2012h-  Richard with some of the goodies he bought: a spiffy new knife, a strainer, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and a box cutter.

Aug 4 2012i-  Richard, very excited about his spiffy new knife, brought it with him to lunch.  It was very useful for getting through that salad he is eating.

 Aug 4 2012j-  After lunch and on into the late evening, Briva fished the evil ctenophore Bolinopsis out of the bags from which we have not removed any zooplankton.

Aug 4 2012k- They are so beautiful, it was a shame to destroy them (being gelatinous, they are incredibly fragile, and it is virtually impossible to remove them without them falling into 30 different pieces).  She had to settle for taking pictures of them, but, alas, my little Coolpix camera is not clever enough to do that very well.

Aug 4 2012l- Another one of the many voracious Bolinopsis.

Aug 4 2012m-  One in the process of being scooped up by the deadly kitchen strainer.

 Aug 4 2012n-  At the same time, Morgane and Morten dragged Marja's plankton net behind the boat to collect copepods to add to the mesocosms that we want to be dominated by copepods.   as you can see, it was hard work to hang on to the net!

Aug 4 2012o-  Heave ho!  Morten starting to haul the net in after they have stopped.

Aug 4 2012p-  Here it comes.

Aug 4 2012q-  Hauling it up "on deck".

Aug 4 2012r-  Letting the water drain out so they can see what they've collected.

Aug 4 2012s-  Looks like it may be a little bit difficult to get the cod end off.

Aug 4 2012t-  Really, that is full of very tiny copepods, probably Oithona.

Aug 4 2012u-  Morgane is not covinced.

Aug 4 2012v-  Going for another tow.  I think quite a number of tows were done, in fact, to collect the necessary amount of copepods.

Aug 4 2012w-  A grim discovery.  A very young and very freshly dead harbor porpoise has appeared in the bay.

Aug 4 2012x-  While they were all out having fun with zooplankton, I did my laundry.  In Norwegian.  Slightly daunting, but the clothes did survive the ordeal.  And if they are slightly smaller now than they were a week ago, at least this way I don't have to blame that on the cook's excellent cooking, right?

 Aug 4 2012za-  Ultra high tech garbage can lids used as Secchi disks.  Briva decided this could be used to get rid of the Bolinopsis in the bags.

Aug 4 2012zb-  The 96 biological oxygen demand (BOD) bottles are sitting in the lab leering at me, daring me to get around to figuring out what to do with them.

Aug 4 2012zc-  Richard, in the meantime, has picked up needle, thread, duck tape, and screen and is going to fashion himself what I have decided is a Bolinopsinator, a net that can be used to fish out only the evil, plankton-munching Bolinopsis out of the mesocosm bags.  And I really must remember to take only horizontal shots with the Canon, if I want to load them up on the blog.  *shakes fist*

Aug 4 2012zd-  The pile of consumables we will plow through during the next three weeks, and this is merely the biggest pile of stuff we brought from Brest.  We're trying not to think about how much work this represents.

Aug 4 2012ze-  The aquarium set up and cooled and waiting for the 1.2 million copepods to arrive.

Aug 4 2012zf-  Plankton sieves lurking in the corner.

Aug 4 2012zg- The Bolinopsinator begins to take shape.

Aug 4 2012zh-  Hah!  When you have lots of oceanographers around, this is how doors get propped open.

 Aug 4 2012zi-  Further progress on the Bolinopsinator.

Aug 4 2012zj-  Mouths of mesocosms.  But are those..... hula hoops?

Aug 4 2012zk-  Richard maintains that all real men make their own plankton nets, even if it involves sewing.

Aug 4 2012zl- Almost finished!

Aug 4 2012zm-  Voilà!  The Bolinopsinator.

Aug 4 2012zn-  Damn!  Another vertical shot from the Canon.  Anyway, hopefully you can still see that the added beauty of the Bolinopsinator is that it doubles as a witchy hat.  For when the mood strikes.

Aug 4 2012zo-  Those really are hula hoops!  Herwig admitted that he has had trouble getting the orders for 30 hula hoops past the accounts people at his university.

Aug 4 2012zp-  Hula hoops are congtagious.  At least if you are a double X.  The XYs merely looked nonchalantly on while sipping coffee.  Cowards.

Aug 4 2012zq-  The aquarium after we added 1.2 million copepods.

Aug 4 2012zr-  After dinner, when the tide had gone out, we say that the poor little dead baby porpoise had settled on a shelf not far from the seawater intake pipe.  This seawater is pumped up to the lab and will be used later in experiments incubating zooplankton.  The last thing we need is death and decay adding lots of dissolved organic matter and little chunks of particulate organic matter to the intake water.  Speaking of which, you should have seen the mass of crabs that scuttled away when I stepped out of the rowboat.  Sorry, crabs!  I am about to tow your free lunch away.

Aug 4 2012zs-  Herwig and Thomas were off duty.  Mia, Briva, Morgane, and Richard were adding nutrients to mesocosms and/or removing Bolinopsis from the mesocosms, Juli and Sari were frantically making the last 13 mesocosm bags before the equipment disappeared back to Munich, and Manon and Rudolph were still playing with the nutrient autoanalyzer.  This left the job of towing the poor dead baby porpoise to another part of the bay to Morten and I and the rowboat.

Aug 4 2012zt-  The porpoise at its new resting place.  I had never seen the underside of one of these beasts before.  So beautiful.  And it had the cutest little teeth.  What a wonder the little thing must have been when it was alive.  If you want some idea of how small this little baby porpoise was, squint closely at the picture.  My European size 36/US size 6 foot is in a wetsuit bootie right there next to it in the lower right hand corner of the photo.  And you are seeing the overwhelming bulk of the animal.  On the tail fin, the very uppermost portion of the torso, and the snub-nosed  head are not in the photo.

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