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Sampling in the sun

Apr 5, 2013 | Gulf of Alaska Project | 0 comments

By Morgan Ostendorf, University of Washington, on the vessel Oscar Dyson

We left port around 1330 today (that is 1:30 pm for all you landlubbers) and the weather couldn’t have been better. As we made our way to the first station, we saw some Dall’s porpoises.

Leaving port in Seward (Photo credit: M. Ostendorf)
Dall’s porpoise (Photo credit: M. Frydrych)

We decided to do a test CTD cast at a station we call GAK1, where scientists have been taking measurements since 1970. We launched the CTD rosette, which measures conductivity, temperature, depth, (hence CTD) as well as oxygen concentration, light transmission and PAR (photosynthetically active radiation). Niskin bottles mounted on the rosette collected water samples. The rosette was lowered into the water until it was about 10 meters from the bottom. As the rosette was brought back to the surface, Niskin bottles were closed electronically by an operator at certain depths. Once the rosette was back on the deck, scientists took all the samples they needed. I was able to help take some water samples for measuring chlorophyll, which is related to the amount of phytoplankton in the water.

Suzanne collects a chlorophyll sample (Photo credit: M. Ostendorf)

Deploying the CTD at the GAK1 station (Photo credit: M. Ostendorf)

Since this is my first time ever being out at sea, I have been pretty excited. Thankfully, the weather and the seas have been cooperating so far. I quickly learned that the ship has no bias with the direction that it rolls; sometimes it feels like it is rolling in a circle. I am still in the process of getting my sea legs, but everyone has been nice and they have given me helpful hints about how to stand and walk on the ship. Personally, I like to employ the philosophy of holding onto the ship with at least one hand at all times. So far I have felt fine and have enjoyed my time so far, but we will see if that changes when the weather isn’t so nice.


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