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Plankton Soup

09/14/2011, 12:00 AM by Lollie Garay
An eel poses for the camera.<br/><br/>Credit: Adriane Colburn
An eel poses for the camera.
Photo Credit: Adriane Colburn


Lat 6.39 N Lon 48.33W

 The ship finally got to the right salinity (32) that they needed and found the nitrogen fixers they were looking for! However, they’re not in the large quantities they expected.

 What we can see in abundance is the plankton! Deb Steinberg and her team are working with two plankton nets on this cruise and the images of the plankton samples are very cool! Adriane has taken pictures of them through the lens of the microscope.

The Steinberg Lab team (Virginia Institute of Marine Science) includes Brandon Conroy, Joe Cope, Josh Stone, and Jason Landrum.

 One surprise of the voyage right now is how dynamic the plume is in its salinity. Apparently there is a very fast and strong current running under the plume that wasn't a factor last spring. That makes the location of the plume and salinity of the water very difficult to predict. When they try to get to a certain type of water based on the satellite images (which are about a week old), the water turns out to be different than expected. The unpredictability makes it difficult to find the DDAs they are looking for.

 Chief Scientist Tish adds” Yesterday we went to an area that we thought would be at a salinity of 32 where we expected to find DDAs. We did, but in low numbers. And each time we sampled, the salinity was fluctuating from 32-33 due to the shifting currents.  There was an unexpected mix of organisms, most likely because the water hadn't been at that salinity for very long. (The idea being that the water gets mixed up and ends up with a different salinity, and the organism best suited to that water wins out over time. If not enough time has lapsed you are bound to have a greater diversity of types of critters.) So currents and time are both making things complex, and there is no way to measure how long a part of the water column has been at a specific salinity. “

  “Despite this unpredictability, once we actually get the salinity we need, what we know about the plume seems to be holding true and we find the organisms we are looking for. “

 All for now,


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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.