Week 6: Field Report

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Week 7, September 12-September 18, 2011, written by Joe GrzymskiYou may ask (as I am doing right now), why write a field report every week when you are doing the same thing over and over again? That’s a good question. Imagine me one year from now sitting in my office in Reno, analyzing data and trying to decide what samples to perform transcriptome sequencing; I’ll have to reconstruct the weather, the ice conditions, the species composition of the water and how well the cells were doing. As well I’ll have to know if anything went wrong in the lab while we were processing samples or if anything unusual happened while collecting the sample. That is where all the notes, logs, and field reports come in…they help us reconstruct the field season when we are working back home, writing papers or deciding what to do next.  And so, reluctantly but necessarily I report on last week. It doesn’t even feel like a week since we’ve been going straight since last Sunday; this was an intense 8 days.

Monday- Still stymied by ice inside the barrier of Bonaparte Point and Torgeson Island (Insert Map here) we continued to sample at Station A. Monday was a pile everyone in the Zodiac day as the entire B-466 group was out on the water enjoying being away from station.

Tuesday- Was more of the same (see what I mean). But Joe and Deneb went and left the rest of the group behind to work on lab stuff. We anxiously awaited open water so Austin, Bethany and Iva could learn boating 2 and be able to go out with us.

Wednesday was a catch up in the lab day…Joe coded analysis schemes for the fluorometer and even spent time thinking about data and what the story was so far for this field season. Deneb, prodded by Joe for stats on who was in the water and in what number, was constantly on the microscope trying to catch up with her samples. Austin and Bethany ran chlorophyll samples, updated logs, cleaned, set up a new experiment in the outdoor aquarium tank, made movies for education and outreach and started learning how to do cell counts with Deneb so they could monitor some lab experiments we started running. Iva continued her mastery of the molecular lab by generating incredible amounts of high quality RNA for sequencing.

Thursday the weather got nasty and there were high hopes for open water when we woke up Friday morning. On Thursday Deneb, Austin and Bethany rigged a new net to cover our outdoor tank for a large volume experiment that was thwarted last week by too much snow and Ice.

Friday was a great, full day. We woke up to open water and immediately went into full gear. Joe and Deneb packed the Zodiac for a complete sampling run at Station E. We collected water at 5, 10, 20 and 40m. We towed the plankton net at three discrete depths, made light measurements and did a CTD profile. While we were doing that the rest of the gang was off in another Zodiac with Neal and Gram completing the requirements of the boating 2 course so they could sample without us. (There must be at least two people in a zodiac who have completed boating two.) In the boating two course you learn to drive a zodiac, perform man overboard exercises (Gram was kind enough to get in the water with an immersion suit on), drive around the various islands in the Palmer boating area to become familiar with emergency caches, landing sites and places to seek refuge if the weather or ice gets bad. Now it is time to put Austin, Bethany and Iva to work on the Zodiacs! Hooray!  We returned after a day on the water to complete our house mouse duties and enjoy a well-deserved night of relaxation.