At this point we’re running on autopilot a bit. As one of the Georgia students pointed out earlier today, we’ve become incredibly efficient at the protocols, just in time to start heading home tomorrow.
People have also had time to start analyzing their data from the first round of experiments. Interestingly, the phytoplankton community has changed significantly in our little patch of ocean over just the short time we’ve been here. Brian commented “I always assume, incorrectly, that the system will be static throughout the cruise. But it’s not, it’s surprisingly dynamic every year”.
A stormy beginning makes for a busy end. We spent the day prepping for a couple of experiments that will happen tomorrow while we’re all awake for the second round of the diel experiment. We sent a go-flow, typically used to collect data on trace minerals in the water, overboard to gracefully collect and filter seawater to be used for growth medium in an incubation experiment. It’s hard to think about treating seawater nicely, but apparently the go-flow apparatus is designed to not split any cells upon entry or exit. This ensures that the phytoplankton we’re trying to grow and measure will have the most realistic experience in their little containers as possible tomorrow.
We’d all been staring at the weather forecast in disbelief for the last couple of days. We had plenty of warning it was coming, but even in the midst of a storm, I don’t believe it’s happening. Why? Because it’s sunny out. However, there are gale force winds outside causing 12-14 foot swells and rocking the boat every which way.
After 6 long hours processing the phytoplankton profile from last night’s CTD, we decided to stay on this station for the remainder of our trip. The profile showed a distinct (and stable) maximum of phytoplankton. Interestingly, this maximum isn’t at the top as you might expect for sun-loving organisms.