Sea Surface Temperature: 47 F Wave Height: 6 Feet
Storm Delay and Point Hope
When I came up to the lab this morning, almost the entire 12:00 AM-12:00 PM shift was asleep on the sofa and the boat was rocking in large swells. What the heck was going on? I hunted around till I found I found Jei taking advantage of the quiet to get some work done. He told me that operations were on hold until the sea settled down.
Luckily at 7:00 AM the sea was less rough and we were able to start back up. This line took us very close to Point Hope. Because the Norseman II is much smaller than the boats usually used for this research, we were able to make measurements close enough to shore to see people driving four wheelers on the beach.
PlanktonPlankton are small or microscopic organisms that float or drift in fresh or salt water, especially at or near the surface, and serve as food for fish and other larger organisms. Tow
Today Nate showed me how to collect plankton with the plankton tow. The official goals of collecting the plankton is to find out what HAB toxins are in the water and what plankton live where.
After we brought the plankton aboard the ship, the real work began. Nate showed me how to prepare the plankton for storage and transport back to the lab in Woods Hole. Each vial of plankton has to be prepared in a different way for each type of analysis that it will undergo, and all of the vials are then stored in a freezer. Some of the plankton will be analyzed for toxins, and other plankton will be analyzed for DNA.
One important question is what toxins are in the water. The plankton will be analyzed back at the lab for three types of toxin:
Saxitoxin- the neurotoxin produced by Alexandrium. Saxitoxin can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Lipophilic Toxins - these are toxins that can be stored in fat tissues. A variety of plankton can produce these. These toxins are concerning because they could be stored in walrus blubber, potentially affecting anyone who eats the blubber.
Domoic Acid – the toxin produced by Pseudo-nitzschia. It causes amnesiac shellfish poisoning.
The toxins in the plankton sample we collect will be compared to the toxins we find in the benthic organisms we are collecting to see if the amount of toxin in the water matches the amount of toxin in the benthic community. This will help us understand how the toxin moves through the food chain.
Back at the lab, the DNA will be extracted from the plankton cells. From the DNA, Evie and other researchers can identify what plankton species are present in the water. They can also compare the DNA from different tows to see what species live where. This can help them answer questions like, “Do the same plankton live near Nome as live near Utqiagvik?”