The sampling transect begins

Manta Net Critter

Today we approached our first station of sampling for our 15-station sampling schedule from 5 degrees north of the equator to 5 degrees south. Everyone is pitching in to help collect and process water samples from the CTDs, deploy the plankton net and manta net, and run the Stayfish (also known as a diaphragm pump). 

The Stayfish is an instrument that pumps unfiltered seawater through tubes that are deployed off the side of the ship and collects water that is free of any trace metals (which is important to some projects). This is used instead of the CTD because the CTD, as well as the boat itself, can contaminate the water with trace metals. The water collected from the Stayfish is also important for those working on incubation experiments because the phytoplankton they are incubating are sensitive to trace metals and any presence of metals can affect their growth.

Amrita and I deployed a phytoplankton net off the back of the ship and the rain and wind decided to pick up - we got pretty soaked and my hat flew off my head, but we got the job done. Our journey toward the equator is brewing up some warmer temps, and the phytoplankton are very happy and productive. As the incubation team was running their water samples through the chlorophyll filter it got pretty clogged, so the phytoplankton are a little too happy and the pumps can’t keep up with their productivity. Good news for marine life but not so good news for those that need to processes these samples. Wishing them the best as they work through these issues!

A lot of people thought that the crew was going to fish for some big fish when we saw them put out a large fishing pole that was mounted on the back of the ship. Turns out they were just using it to deploy an underway CTD which actually kind of looks like a fish itself. 

Overall, all of the watches today have been very productive, and a lot of data is being collected and analyzed. Even though I am not going to be using any of this data for my project, I can’t wait to see the data that everyone collects and I am looking forward to helping them more!

Science rocks - Heather