Week 5: The Science After Dark Edition

This past week was another busy one, and one in which a mystery was solved! I know you were all dying to know how the great chlorophyll mystery would turn out. Well, the verdict is in, and the chlorophyll was not degrading. It was instead being trapped underneath the filter paper in the bottom of the centrifuge tubes. With this problem solved we collected higher quality data, but data that still had some variability in it. We might have to work on this a little more, but it was good to at least identify the major problem, and confirm that we were largely seeing “P” limitation in Yaquina Bay. We probably weren’t noticing our little problem in the first run through of the experiment, because working with chlorophyll often means that you are working in the dark. Which brings us to the theme of this week’s post! Science after dark! Sounds scandalous, but I assure you the discussion that follows is family friendly in its entirety.

Towards the end of the weekend, and our rendezvous in Corvallis to discuss our internships and set up Sea Grant’s DaVinci Days booth, I got a call from my supervisors asking if I was available on Sunday night to collect the samples for the coming week’s experiment. I of course replied in the affirmative, and we met up at the EPA at about 8:30 PM. We finished at about midnight, and needless to say we were pretty tired. It was a fun, if not tiring, little twist to our summer experiment though. Working in the field at night, much like in a dark lab, presents some unique challenges when trying to do science. Mainly, how to juggle your flash light with all of your equipment and notebooks. Which is to say, I should probably invest in a headlamp.

Hopefully, with our earlier collection to start the week, our results will be a little clearer by the time Friday morning rolls around. Something tells me they won’t be though, but everyone keep their fingers crossed! Think positive thoughts. Encourage the phytoplankton from Elk City, Oregon to respond earnestly to our nutrient spikes. That’s all for this week! Until next time!

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