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Ed Carpenter speaks from experience

05/29/2010, 1:08 PM by Edward Carpenter
Ed at the epifluorescence microscope<br/><br/>Credit: T. Yager
Ed at the epifluorescence microscope
Photo Credit: T. Yager

The KNORR was launched in 1969, the same year that I came to WHOI for a postdoc. I have many fond memories of earlier cruises on the KNORR, but after getting on in Barbados I found I kept getting lost as I walked through the maze of rooms and passageways. I think I have it all down now.

One time on a cruise in the 70s in the Sargasso Sea I saw a large tree floating by the ship and asked that it be hauled on board. The tree was loaded with shipworms and they were actively fixing nitrogen!

My day is spent at the microscope. I count and identify the larger N2 fixing cyanobacteria such as Trichodesmium and the DDAs (diatom diazotroph symbioses) in six levels of the water column from surface to 100 m. I also count the very small (< 1 µm) Synechococcus and the larger diatom and dinoflagellate population. I’m sort of the “eyes” of the group and tell everyone what is abundant and where. I have to work in the dark in a lab below the main lab, so, except for breaks for more tea, I tend to be hidden from the rest of the scientific group for much of the day.

The KNORR rides really smoothly and has a gentle rocking motion in these waters. The crew has been super in accommodation all of our needs and so far (keep fingers crossed!) everything has been working well!

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Question of the Day

  • Do the bacteria in the water make us sick?

    Only a few of them.  Bacteria are in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, hot springs, radioactive waste, water, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. Bacteria recycle nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as nitrogen fixation.