This is Ben again. Unfortunately this will be my last blog post, as my internship has come to its end. I’ve had a great time this semester and learned a whole new valuable skillset while working with some great people. I would also like to thank everyone who read these blogs over the last several months. While the internship is over, thankfully the science continues. I am fortunately able to stay on in the sorting lab over the summer. I get to continue this interesting work as well as help out on the upcoming research cruise.
Now I’m sure that there are at least a few of you that, like my family, get the wrong idea when I use the word “cruise”. Let’s just take a minute to look at what happens on these research cruises so we can dispel any of the pleasure cruise comparisons. The cruise will take place later this month and over the two weeks at sea we are going to revisit many of the previously sampled sites to try to determine how the area is dealing with the impacts of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. There will be a large group of scientists onboard utilizing a diverse array of research techniques to study the effects of the spill. Researchers will be working around the clock, likely in 12 hour shifts, to collect and initially process samples as they come on board. Sampling procedures, just to list a few, include:
• CTD and water bottle rosette cast to collect
- Water column environmental information such as salinity, temperature and dissolved oxygen
- Water chemistry
- Water column microbe samples
- microbial communities
- sediment chemistry
- macrofauna communities
- Oil degradation experiments
- Isotope dating
• Camera tows for bottom exploration and characterization.
We’ll be working rain or shine, night and day, to collect the data needed to perform high quality science and while it’s called a “cruise” I can assure you that no one will be sipping a fruity cocktail by the pool.
Ben LaBelle, Florida State University