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Vida do Rio (River Life) for the ROCA Team

09/18/2011, 6:39 PM by Lollie Garay
The Rio-ROCA team:Christa,Nick, Jeff, Alex,Marcio, Brian, Daimio, Henrique<br/><br/>Credit: Brian Zelinski
The Rio-ROCA team:Christa,Nick, Jeff, Alex,Marcio, Brian, Daimio, Henrique
Photo Credit: Brian Zelinski


ROCA (River Ocean Continuum of the Amazon) is the partner project for ANACONDAS. It builds on the existing work of ANACONDAS , expanding its global implications. This in-river component gives us a better handle on how processes in the river affect the plume.

 Tish explains: “We have also added "omics" - looking at microbes at the genetic level (DNA, RNA) to figure out better what they are doing and what they are capable of doing under changing conditions.  The "continuum" concept of the river and its plume resonates throughout the project.  All things are connected. “  

 “We have also added all of Patricia Medeiros' high-resolution organic matter analyses, and a more microbial-focused modeling effort. “ 

 Ultimately ROCA aims to enhance predictive capabilities regarding the interplay between marine microbial communities, biogeochemical cycling, and carbon sequestration in a major river plume environment.

It will also help us to understand the sensitivity of these interactions to environmental change. The Marine Microbiology Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funds ROCA.  


Brian Zelinsky (USF), who was on the ANACONDAS cruise last year is currently on the river and reports:

 “Hello and welcome to Brazil! The Rio-ROCA team consists of scientists from both the United States and Brazil, working together at three separate ports of the Amazon River for a total of 6 major sampling stations every three months. I have the privilege to be part of the team currently here”

 “We just returned from sampling the south and north channels of Macapa, and everything went very smoothly. They said this was the smoothest Macapa sampling they ever had. We had no problem finishing all the extra tasks. The waves were no problem; no bugs at all; and it was relatively cool compared to what I was expecting. The views here are amazing and I am taking plenty of pictures to share at a later point of time. Guess what it didn’t do in the rainforest- rain!! We had great weather.”

 “Imagine sleeping on a hammock on the boat, nothing gets better than that …until it we get wave action and you’re smacking into a post. Electricity for our main pumps comes from a car battery. A gas generator powers everything else. The showers are so small you can soap up the walls and spin around for a complete cleanup. But, you had to make sure you didn’t trip on the toilet while the river water flowed through the shower!”

"Alex, Marcio, Daimio and Henrique are great hosts. Daimio ( who is almost finished with his PhD and has a great sense of humor) is in charge of the dissolved chemistry analysis. Marcio is a geomorphologist whose main task is to measure the river’s current velocity and to look at sediment concentration distribution. Henrique is looking at the DNA of methane oxidizers (which live in the sediment) to see who is responsible for the different concentrations of methane.”

 Born in the southern tip of Brazil, …”Alex does whatever is necessary to keep the project and sampling on track. When I had trouble getting my Brazilian visa from the Miami consulate, Alex was there. When we needed to transport four carloads of stuff and 6 people as well, Alex was there. And when we need to calculate the carbon budget of the Amazon Basin, you guessed it: Alex is there!”

 “So, the first three day expedition went perfectly as planned, which is not always the case here. I just hope our luck continues as we fly off to sample in Belem.”

  “Vida Brasileira no rio e bom! :) “

 We’ll hear more from Brian after their next stop!




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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.