So this is the end!

So Monday was our last sampling day and a lot of people already left Stareso. We have been very busy packing, cleaning and mainly disassembling the 9 mesocosms. The weather was better and we have been able to work quickly being a great team, it is of course very efficient. Jean-Michel,Didier, David and Grigor arrived to reinforce the diving team as a lot has to be done under water. Francis also came back to take care of the logistic on the quay when the mesocosms are being bring back from the mooring. This step really ends the experiment. It was an extraordinary human and scientific adventure and a successful experiment for sure… tiring, yes but hopefully our results are going to meet our expectation,at least, we did our best to make it. As a souvenir, Frederic created nice ‘MedSea’ t-shirts and we are all happy to wear it on the picture! The experiment is over but not this blog, still open for more thoughts and
news…. Until the next experiment!!

From left to right and men (back line) to women (first line): Samir, LoIc, Walter, Thanos, Mauro and Vincent. Raquel, Afrodite, Francesca, Cécile, Anastasia, Martina, Angela, Amélie, Cinzia, Denise, Lisa, Justine and Laure. Missing people: Fred, Andy, Louisa, Tanya, Anggeliki, Karine, Clémence, Eija and Aurélie.

Advertisements

Messing up the mesocosms…all for zooplankton! (by Thanos)

Thanos processing samples after collecting the zooplakton

If you ever find yourself in the middle of a mesocosm experiment somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea and you decide to mess up with it, then you have only one choice. Call us. Call the ZMUT*.

We can do almost anything. We can do cubiing, pumping and sampling all free of charge ;). We collect copepods and their eggs and feed them with the soup from the mesocosms (each soup with different pH flavour), trying to understand how acidification of the seas affects those living creatures.

But the most important…

We are the only ones who can professionally mess up the mesocosms. The only thing that is needed is a net, just a common zooplankton sampling net.

And after that …

No microlayers, no samples, no filtration, no sediment traps.

Simple as that.

PS1: Our best wishes (double for those who are here from the beginning) for a safe return back home and for good results to all cubists of STARESO.

PS2: Thanks all of you for your help!

* Zooplankton Messing Up Team (ISO 2000)

Sediment traps, the best part !!! (by Amélie)

Mesocosms are like iceberg, the big part is underwater, the bottom is around 14m of depth and at the bottom of the bag there are the famous sediment traps.

Underwater view of the meso

I am in charged of sediment traps, they need to be changed everyday! It’s the best part of the mission, every afternoon I go with Sylvain to replace the sediment traps (which consiste in a plastic bottle screwed on the sediment particules manifold). We are totally independent, we go under water from the station to the mesocosms using underwater scooter, it’s so cool!!! It’s very fast around 20 minutes to go, change the nine traps and come back.

Sylvain and Amélie leaving the harbor to change the sediment traps

Under water it’s so calm (even when very windy at the surface), everyday we are welcomed by a multitude of curious fish.

We found a lot of swimmers in sediment traps and sometimes jellyfish!

The plastic bottles which are changed every day.

A jellyfish in the sediment trap!!

The sediment traps collection is done to measure the export of organic and inorganic carbon and see if there are differences between treatments.

I would like to sincerely thank Sylvain who come with me everyday and Alex (the Sunday afternoons) as well as Stephen who took a really nice pictures of mesocosms.

…THE DAILY JOHNATAN’S JOURNEY.. (by Francesca and Cinzia)

I have been spending almost one month in the wonderful Stareso station, working in the mesocosms and it is revealing a really great experience! Some are happier some are less to go back home, however tomorrow will be the last day of the experiments…I did a lot of “in situ” work because my parameter’s analysis can not wait (at least for CDOM). But today I am not going to bore you about my analysis!

I would like to tell you a little story about..our Johnathans (the name we have given to the integrated-sampler-bottles)! Because Cinzia and me we will miss them a lot..

I am in the daily team of 8.30 am with my collegue Cinzia, so every morning we are full of energy (well, coffee is strictly necessary..) to go to the cubis for sampling K3! This the best moment of the day (as far as work is concerned..), because one of the Johnatans is randomly with us 😉

(Cinzia and Francesca at 8.30 team on cubis)

When we approch the mesocosms and we are well attach by ropes (if not the strong SW wind will blow us to Genova or Sardegna) we are ready to prepare our Johnatan for his journey into the so transparent and blue corsican waters…

He will travel in the water-column until reaching 10 m depth: we cast him very constantly, slowly and sweetly by the rope, in order he is able to collect the integrating seawater we need.

Basically is like a big 5 Liters syringe. Thus, is very important to push down the piston before casting again.

Since Samir and Fred smartly discovered the utility of the “push botton” to save time in the meanwhile we are sampling the last bottle (the pressure is higher) we also enjoy with the rest of the team to sing “Me gusta el push!”

The PUSH “moment” standing on knees

The name alludes to seagulls that unfortunately made their dwelling place above the roof of the mesocosms..
“If you love someone, set them free..If they come back they are yours..if they don’t they never were.”

some time for non-scientific activities ;)

During one of the Yoga sessions at Stareso

The wind keeps blowing powerfully and samplings from today were cancelled. Although is bad news, we will surely occupy the time in other activities besides filtering and measuring. Some only want to sleep, others might go for a walk on the beautiful mountains around, plans to get to walk around Calvi might develop, and others plan to join the already established Yoga classes (daily at 18.20).

Cecile, besides on charge of the experiment now, is also in charge of giving those who want to learn, the right description of the Yoga positions in the class. She is telling us to breath, to lead our heads go. Yoga is something half the class hasn´t try before and we are glad to be able to relax our backs after the pulling down and up of the sampling bottles and the carrying of boxes from the harbor to the boats. Fish, candle, warrior, cat, tree…each of us has its favorite.

Yoga sunset

Nutrients sampling

The Mediterranean Sea in general, and the Calvi Bay in particular, are very oligotrophic areas. As a result, organisms living in their waters are adapted to low nutrient concentrations, and even small changes in these concentrations can cause big perturbations of natural communities.

Thanks to the mesocosm experiment, we (Sylvie Gobert from University of Liège, and Loïc Michel, from the Stareso research station) will try to understand if ocean acidification could modify nutrient concentrations in Calvi Bay. To do so, we take daily samples to monitor nitrates and nitrites, ammonium, phosphates and silicates concentrations in each of the mesocosms, as well as an “extra” sample out of the mesocosms. We look forward to seeing which trends emerge from the data, and we hope that they can be useful for other scientists taking part of the experiment too…

Once the water is sampled, we have to condition the samples. This is the most critical part of our jobs, because by this time, it is usually around 11 AM. Since labs are quite crowded, we work directly on the Stareso dock, under the burning Corsican sun. During this dangerous task, the only things that prevent us from baking are 1) our beloved straw hats (see fig. 1) and 2) a very good hydration plan based on refreshing Corsican beer. After conditioning, we place the samples in the freezer (for NO2- + NO3-, NH4+ and PO43-) or in the fridge (for SiO44-).

Nutrient conditioners hard at work under the Corsican sun.

Now the experiment is nearly finished, and nearly all samples are stored, patiently awaiting analysis. On Sunday (July 15th), our colleague Renzo Biondo (also from Lab of Oceanology, University of Liège) will join us, and we will start the analysis step. All nutrient concentrations will be determined at Stareso, using our Skalar automated continuous flow automated analyser. Methods differ for each compound, but all are based on colorimetric detection. When everything runs smoothly, this type of analysis is rather quick, and we hope to be done in about a week… However, the analyser is a whimsical machine, and a lot of things can go wrong. To ensure that the Nutrient God is with us, we consider sacrificing one of the station’s cats to him. Let’s hope it will be enough to please him!

(NOT!) gone with the wind!! (by Cécile)

Sampling with wind conditions at least 15 kt has become very usual for the MedSea mesocosm team and we are now able to work such very difficult conditions. It is amazing and the participants are amazing on their cubi. We have put diving weights in the samples boxes to avoid any flying boxes to the water! Yes, we have been experiencing high winds since several days now and yes, we are ok but most surprisingly, the mesocosms are still in very good shape and no damage were found by our diving team (Amélie and Sylvain) who go to the mesocosms everyday to change the sediment traps. As they go under water from the Stareso station using funny ‘underwater scooter’, they could go to the site, even yesterday. They said it was very nice and calm at 15 m depth! Indeed yesterday, the wind was so strong that we were not able to go out with the boat as the security was concerned. We have been deciding on the sampling strategy by following very carefully the forecast: for those who are used to sail in the Med Sea, they know as the wind can change rapidly, and as it can increase its speed even more rapidly. We have a ‘Special Forecast Warning’ since 4 days now and it seems difficult in the present condition to predict what will really happen in term of wind …. Apparently, the worse has to come as they predict a huge wind event for tomorrow (figure from http://www.lamma.rete.toscana.it/meteo/modelli/vento-e-mare)… Huh, no doubt that tomorrow will be a quiet day in the labs, except for the incubated samples that hopefully we will be able to withdraw quickly with the rubber boat early tomorrow morning!

Here is the forecast map. Corsica is surrounded by red wind areas! This is for tomorrow (Sunday) at 12pm.

Apart from being quite annoying for our daily sampling routine, this event is going to be very interesting in term of results as a specific forcing on the structure of the surface mixed layer, on the air-sea exchanges and on the functioning of the ecosystem.