Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Today with the help of Katlin and Lisa I was able to finish up my incubation experiments and begin packing up all of my samples for the night. Since most of my samples are frozen to prevent further demethylation and methylation of mercury from the time they were collected the most important thing I have to do tonight is organize my bottles in the freezer. When I get back to WSU I will test the incubation samples for rate of methylation/demethylation of mercury, and I will also test water samples taken at various depths at each station to show NO3, DOC, MMHg, Dissolved Trace Metals. The incubation water will also be tested for TOC, Fe, and bacteria count.

Tonight I watched my last sunset at sea as we deployed the mini rosette for the last time. I will miss the experiences at sea, but I am glad to be done because the mini rosette gets a little heavy after a while.

I would like to thank NSF for funding the cruise and experiments. Also a big thank you to the crew of the R/V Endeavor for keeping the ship on track, helping collect our samples, and providing fabulous meals. Thank you Mercury Team for teaching me more lab procedures in 11 days than I ever would learn in a class room. Thank you Dr. Hammerschmidt for allowing me to work with you while I work on my masters. Lastly, thank you Tristan for helping filter the water I will use in my experiments/analysis.


The Mercury Team!

Back row left to right: Dr. William Fitzgerald, Dr. Chad Hammerschmidt, Will Ehresman, Allan Hutchins, Prentiss Balcom, Tristan Kading
Front row left to right: Lisa Romas, Katlin Bowman, Michael Finiguerra, Amina Schartup, Lynne Butler, Dr. Maria Andersson

What an Experience

What an experience this has been! Tonight I watched one last sunset on the bow of the ship, surrounded by nothing but ocean and it felt amazing. For an undergraduate from Ohio, this has been quite an opportunity. I feel that I have learned so much about the ocean, things I had never even given thought to before. The beauty of it all is that the discovery has just begun. We will be bringing back coolers full of water samples and sediment samples, and carboys full of sea water to analzye and learn more about mercury in the ocean. Life at sea has been an adventure! Now I am going to end my last flux chamber experiment, then the rest of the evening will be spent packing up. We should arrive at port tomorrow around 1pm, back in Ohio Thursday.



This evening, we have reached our final station (#15). I have had an amazing adventure thus far. In fact, this experience has totally surpassed any expectations I had formulated prior to the cruise. I never imagined how exhilarating it would be out on the ocean completing research! I honestly do not want to return to land! This is especially ironic for myself, because I have long had a personal battle with motion sickness; however, it the same respect this cruise is truly meaningful to me because I have made significant achievements, both scientifically and personally.

Thank you to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for funding this research cruise on the biogeochemistry of mercury in the oceans!!!

If it were not for this organization, we could never have afforded to conduct such unprecedented research. The data that we have collected from this research cruise promise to further advance the current state of knowledge on (methyl)mercury in the Atlantic Ocean and its sediments.

I also want to thank all of the crew members, whom have been so very helpful and kind throughout our trip. Thank you for working so hard and sharing your stories with us! Perhaps we will see you again on another cruise in the future.

Thank you to the entire scientific party. It has been incredible getting to know some of the most intelligent and proficient scientists in the mercury field. Everyone has been so caring and I have had a blast conducting research with you all. We must keep in touch!

Finally, I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Chad Hammerschmidt and Dr. William Fitzgerald. Both of you did a phenomenal job with logistics, guidance, and enabling us to efficiently and effectively collect samples. I, as I am sure everyone else, recognize the tremendous amount of time and effort you put in to make this a very successful research cruise!

All too soon we will be back at port in RI…tomorrow afternoon! We have a lot of packing to do and our final station to complete before we can return home.

My sincerest gratitude to you all,

Station 12

This was one of the last cores we took from station 12. The depth was 3200 meters which was our deepest core yet, and one of our most successful. We were able to collect eight cores from just the one box.

Michael spent the better part of last night when we were on station trying to catch a squid. After a few hours of failed attempts he finally caught one in a net he got from the crew. After a few pictures he finally let Mr. Inky (the squid) go unharmed.


Yesterday, we spent the majority of our day at station 12. By the time we finally obtained a successful sediment core, we decided to have some fun with the mud. We painted our faces with deep sea mud!

Next, we cleaned up while the boat was repositioning so we could deploy the rosette a few more times. While we were out collecting water samples, we could see the amazing nocturnal sea creatures. We saw tons of squid. These agile organisms were under about one foot in length and changed brilliant colors (deep red, purple and white) as they gracefully darted through the water, chasing their prey. There were flying fish, as well! Never before have I seen such awesome creatures!

Monday, August 25, 2008

We have been sending Styrofoam cups down with the box corer and rosettes in a mesh bag. The high pressure (about 320 atmospheres or 4700 psi where we sampled from) near the ocean floor pushes all of the air out of the Styrofoam and shrinks the cup; so the cup on the left was the size of the cup on the right when we started! We write and decorate the cups before they go down. This one is for you Bowman family, it went down 3176 meters :)