Final Questions from the Epiphany School

Howdy!  Here’s some more questions from the kids. – Katie
1. Have you found any animals/organisms or results that were surprising?

No real surprises, but lots of great data was collected on the cruise.   One of the the major objectives of the cruise was to confirm that the Great Belt as seen from satellites really was due to massive numbers of coccolithophores.  This has been confirmed.  We will know a lot more of the details as the data analysis is completed.    Please see Rebecca’s blog for more details on the major findings of the cruise.

2. Does the cold weather affect your testing?

It is always more pleasant working on deck when the water and air is warm.  Once we got above 30 degrees south the weather was very nice.  The rosette was also on a track that pulled the sample bottles into the aft hanger of the ship and out of the weather for sampling.  Once the samples get into the lab the weather doesn’t have a big impact on the analysis.   We do need to be aware of the temperature of the samples when they were collected.  For some measurements, like pH, the measured value changes with temperature.   This is particularly true of anything that changes with time.  Rates of chemical and biological reactions are very temperature dependent.

3. Why is phosphate limiting is freshwater?

The limiting reagent is what runs out first.   In lakes some species of algae can fix nitrogen from the air to meet their nitrogen requirements as nitrate gets low.  Phosphate only comes from runoff into the lakes, and so it is usually limiting.   In many parts of the ocean iron is limiting because the very low solubility of iron in seawater.

4. Do you get tired of the ocean?

Yes, we were all very excited to get to Cape Town.   We miss our friends and families, and have lots of other non-cruise things that we must attend to back on land.

5. What does WHOI stand for? ( I know its Wood Hole Oceangraphic Institute, We actually visit in the spring.) Will any of your results be there when we visit?

You are correct that WHOI stands for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  Two WHOI researchers were on the cruise and I am certain that they would be happy to talk to your class if they are at WHOI during your visit.

6. Do people usually get sea sick on the trip?

Yes, we were very lucky that we did not get any really rough weather during the cruise and only a few scientists felt sick for a few days during the cruise.   I get really sea-sick and took the Coast Guard Cocktail for most of the cruise to prevent sea-sickness.

7. Do you ever get tired because of your hours?

Of course, the combination of long hours and no days off can be very tiring.  In the beginning the excitement of the cruise keeps you going.   By the end of 37 days everyone was looking forward to getting of the ship.

8. Why do you filter the water?

The particles in water are made of living and dead organisms and inorganic particles like dust.   The chemistry and biology of these particles can be very different than the dissolved molecules in seawater.   The particles can also sink making then the conveyor belt for moving material from the surface to the deep ocean.

- Whitney

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