SQF leaving the port in Honolulu.
First day of our research cruise to Station Aloha. We got underway at 9am this morning and we have been making our way up the western coast of Oahu. We just past the most western point of the island and are heading north leaving the land behind us. What a beautiful day! I wish I could take a picture that captured how blue the water is! Our day started with safety training and drills with the captain of the R/V Kilo Moana. Later in the morning we did a test CTD deployment and cast. The CTD is a submersible instrument that measures Conductivity (salinity), Temperature, and Depth as it is lowered through the water column. Attached to the CTD are other sensors that measure light, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and fluorescence (measure of chlorophyll a which is a proxy for phytoplankton biomass). After the cast, my group ("The Kraken") prepped the sediment trap tubes (see the second pic). These will deployed tonight at midnight and they will be collected in 5 days. They will capture the "stuff" (sometimes referred to as marine snow) that falls through the water column. We can measure the carbon and nutrient content of this material and it will give us a sense of what type of material is being transported from the upper part of the water column to the lower depths. This is important because the marine snow is a food source for many sea creatures. A very small portion of these particles may make it to the bottom of the sea where it may be consumed or buried. The movement of carbon (found in marine snow) from the surface of the ocean to the interior of the sea is called the biological pump. This pump plays an important role in global carbon cycle.
Today we spent moving supplies to the R/V Kilo Moana and setting up the labs. Our new home for the next 10 days! The research vessel (R/V) Kilo Moana is a 186 foot, twin hull vessel. Tomorrow morning we will steam out to Station Aloha which is about 115 kilometers (~71.5 miles) off the North Shore coast of Oahu. We will leave from the Univ. of Hawaii Marine Center in Honolulu and steam around Oahu and up to Station Aloha. It should take us about 10 hours to get to station. Once we are on station we will begin our measurements and rotations. All of the C-MORE students are broken up into 5 groups of 3 students and we will rotate between 5 different types of measurements; Biomass, Metabolism, Diversity and Enumeration of the Microbial Community, Flow Cytometry, Optics and deck work. I will describe these in more detail once I do the rotations. Now it is time for me to get some sleep before the departure tomorrow morning at 7am!
Aloha from the middle of the Pacific Ocean! This week concluded Part I of the summer Microbial Ecology course I am taking at the world renowned Center for Microbial Ecology Research and Education (C-MORE) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It is hard to believe that I have been in Hawaii for 2 weeks! The course is taught by a group of local and visiting faculty directed by Dave Karl.
The first week was broadly focused on "The Ocean as a Habitat". The visiting faculty included Ginger Armbrust (Univ. of Washington), John Cullen (Dalhousie Univ.), Ken Johnson (MBARI) and Dan Repeta (WHOI). We had 3 to 4 lectures/discussions per day with topics including a general introduction and history of microbial ecology; nutrients, light and primary productivity; nutrient cycling; observations of biogeochemistry with robotics; modeling; functional and taxonomic diversity of phytoplankton; and carbon cycling. It was an incredibly dynamic and interesting week. Check out this review on signaling interactions between diatoms and bacteria: http://mmbr.asm.org/content/76/3/667.short
And also check out the awesome MBARI database of data from deployed floats across the ocean: http://www.mbari.org/chemsensor/floatviz.htm
The second week of the class was titled "From Genomes to Biomes" and was led by Ed DeLong (MIT). The lectures covered general marine microbial 'omics and the cutting edge methods and technology being used. The visiting faculty included Eric Allen (Scripps Institution, UCSD), Elizabeth Costello (Stanford Univ.), Scott Gifford (MIT) and Nikos Krypides (JGI, DOE). We also had lectures from local C-MORE faculty Mike Rappe, Grieg Stewart and Benedetto Barone. We were introduced to genomic software tools including IMG/ER, CAMERA, and Qiime.
What a full and exciting couple of weeks! Now we will temporarily leave C-MORE Hale (LEED Platinum certified) and head to the big blue! In Part II of the course we will conduct research on a research cruise to Station ALOHA (A Long-Term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment, 22deg 45'N, 158deg 00'W). We will be at sea for a total of 10 days. This will be my first open ocean cruise... I can't wait.
Sarah Q. Foster
Sarah is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Fulweiler Lab. This blog documents her experience taking a summer course "Microbial Oceanography: From genome to biome" at C-MORE at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.