September 2011

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BioLINCS Cruise Blog

photo of Kim Fulton-Bennett and CTDRead a daily blog by Kim Fulton-Bennett about two dozen researchers who are searching for marine microbes in the Pacific Ocean north of O‘ahu.



photo of Jessica disassembling incubation chamber Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It’s about six thirty in the evening here on the Kilo Moana. To starboard, the sun is setting, a small gleam of fire peering between cauliflower heads of cloud. Just off the port bow, we can see land for the first time in 13 days. It’s just a darker gray silhouette beneath lighter gray clouds, but it has a certain… continued here.

photo of John watching SID from KM bow Monday, September 19, 2011

This morning, after breakfast, we fished our last bit of drifting equipment out of the water. This was the mooring containing Craig Taylor’s Incubating Productivity Systems (IPS) and Submersible Incubation Device (SID). I walked from the galley up on the bow to watch the beautiful cloud formations, and… continued here.

photo of small inflatable boat and ESP float Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today started off pretty quiet, with most of the sediment trap team still walking around a little zombie-like, while finishing up their analyses and preparation of the samples they collected yesterday morning. But others, such as Kendra, Julie, and the MIT team, were busy with new incubation experiments… continued here.

photo of Blake in lab Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last night was a big Friday night on the Kilo Moana, but not in the way you might think. The team from the University of Hawai‘i (UH) pulled off what I’m calling “The Night of the Living Sediment Traps.” The marathon started at around three this morning. As I write this, around 7:30 in the evening… continued here.

photo of Ariel and Peter prepping gas arrays Friday, September 16, 2011

This morning started out showery, but we’ve gotten back into pleasant sailing weather this afternoon, with trade winds of about 12 to 18 knots—enough to make picturesque whitecaps, but not enough to “rock the boat” or make it difficult to work on deck. Although one of the motion sensors on the… continued here.

photo of Julie and Kendra with incubators Thursday, September 15, 2011

We’ve had amazingly calm, sunny weather for the last eight days, and we knew it couldn’t last. We had hints of a change yesterday, as a few squalls blew through periodically during the day. Nonetheless, it was a little disappointing to look out my stateroom window this morning and see… continued here.

photo of Julie and Kendra with incubators Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In yesterday’s blog, I described how a lot of the seawater we bring up from the depths ends up being used for chemical analysis and filtered by the researchers to extract microbes. Another major use of this water is for “incubation experiments,” during which researchers allow the microbes… continued here.

photo of Kendra and Deniz scheduling Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yesterday we conducted five CTD casts in one day— a record for this cruise. There were casts at roughly 02:00, 07:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00, each lasting an hour more. I asked Tara Clemente, who has been on a lot of cruises, why the researchers, some of whom are already putting 20-hour days, would want… continued here.

photo of Ger van den Engh in lab Monday, September 12, 2011

Yesterday I talked a little bit about how we can identify different marine bacteria using “molecular biology” techniques and DNA analyses. In this blog, I’ll focus on an amazing instrument we have on board the ship called the influx flow cytometer (IFC). The IFC can help identify microbes based on their size and.… continued here.

photo of mahi Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today we took a little break from babysitting the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), and headed back to the spot where we launched the ESP, in hopes that microbes would be more abundant there. We motored down to the spot, took a CTD cast, and collected water samples this morning. As I write… continued here.

graphic of Kilo Moana's track Saturday, September 10, 2011

I was lucky and got to “sleep in” this morning, while my roommate, Peter Alpert, ran the 0600 CTD cast. Peter has also taken on the sometimes thankless task of negotiating which scientists get water samples from each of the 24 “Niskin bottles” that are brought up during each CTD cast. Apparently… continued here.

photo of CTD array on deck Friday, September 9, 2011

At dawn this morning, the ocean surface had a bit more texture than we’ve seen over the last few days, and the seas were a bit lumpy, but not uncomfortable. The sun worked its way slowly up into the pale sky, dodging piles of gray clouds that lay like discarded pillows around the horizon. I know all this because… continued here.

photo of Craig Taylor in lab Thursday, September 8, 2011

Last night was a busy night for many of the science crew here on the Kilo Moana. After the deployment of the ESP (described in yesterday’s blog), there was a CTD cast, and then a drifting incubation experiment called a “gas array” was deployed. I think the gas array was deployed around 2 AM, but … continued here.

photo of Kilo Moana bow Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I awoke this morning to bright tropical sunshine sneaking between the curtains in my stateroom. Outside, the sea was glass smooth and very blue. From my window I could see the wake of the ship as a series of undulating azure waves flowing out behind us. We’d been steaming north at about 12 knots… continued here.

photo of loading gear Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One of the most exciting (and stressful) parts of a research cruise is the day of departure. It culminates months of preparation, during which researchers must plan their experiments, get their paperwork in order, and ship their fragile scientific equipment across countries and oceans, hoping that…. continued here.



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