Hi everyone! Wanted to say thank you for reading and that this is the last entry. I have one last bundle of pictures that I’ll throw up there and then I’m signing off.
I know, it’s been awhile. I’ve been plugging away at the experiment everyday in a regular routine. Wake up, breakfast 1, a few milliseconds of yoga with David, folks from the lab stop at the house before they go in, breakfast 2. Braving the gale force winds and rain down to the lab, collect eggs. Brave the drizzle and cold wind, while dodging 4 inch long black slugs and speeding mopeds/cars of Norwegian technicians for ~1/4 mile to sample the tanks. Then heading to the house for lunch of great meats and 1 slice of bread (Norwegian way). After lunch I go into a dark microscope room to sort, photograph and then process the copepods for dry weights and carbon/hydrogen/nitrogen analysis. That usually takes about 4-5 hours. Dinner is at 6-7, and then catching up on transcribing my notes to log sheets, a movie and then bed. Repeat.
I find this trip is remarkably like being on a cruise (read research open ocean trip- NOT pleasure cruise) because you are focused on your work and forget what day and time it is. What IS different is the lack of sea sickness, being able to sleep on a non-moving comfortable bed (still as narrow as the ships bunk though) and having normal working hours.
TODAY however was different. The sun came out- ALL DAY! I finished my work at a decent hour and after pizza for dinner went kayaking for the first time here. Very nice boats are available to drag out at our leisure. I took off the the right and went under an overpass through a narrow inlet to another fjord. Was nice but the cool part was as I headed back to the overpass to leave I noticed blankets of anemones coating the overhangs of the large boulders in the current, really spectacular. It looked to me like what I’ve seen in photos of the Pacific Northwest tidal pools. I also saw a Great blue heron (Purpurhegre in Norwegian) and some sort of merganser that was backlit so I couldn’t see details.
Here are the photos I took:
PS- Here’s a picture of the sun at 21:00… still a loooonnnnngggg way to go.
Days are starting to blur together. We are deep in the heart of starting the sampling of the copepods that have been put in the different tanks, slowly inoculating the other tanks and developing the routine that we will follow. There’s a lot to remember and I keep taking little notes that need more work to transcribe into legible notes…you get the picture.
Anyway, yesterday (I think) we were down on the dock to pull traps that we had forgotten in the water for a few days. As we were watching the new salmon smolts jumping around in their new pens, I noticed that there were fish jumping outside of the pens. They were wild young cod!!! A whole bunch of them hanging around feeding on something right there at the surface, possibly the feed the new salmon were getting. Cool!!!
After sorting one bucket of two plankton samples for live Calanus finmarchicus females for over 8 hours, I finished with 514 females. Have to say I was pretty brain dead. David and I cooked up some Norwegian farm raised salmon, rice, veggies and salad and then off to finish work. We didn’t go off to sleep until about 10:30. Long day!
Needless to say this morning I slept late and didn’t drag down to the lab until about 9. Our females were snug in their new egg laying containers, gently bubbling and at 12C. One female that I had separated as she was in mid-egg lay had deposited 35 eggs. If we use that as an “average” number of eggs per female we would hope to acquire ~18,000 eggs total. In reality though, not all the females are in the same gonadal development stage so we’re not sure what will be deposited daily. Hopefully, at least several thousand eggs will come of a 24 hour period so we can inoculate a couple of our experimental tanks at once. We need to stagger the tank inoculation so that not all of them need sampling at the same time.
After 17 hours I changed the water and fed all 4 containers holding the females with lovely red Rhodomonas and filtered out the eggs. My egg count came to 4k! Wahoo! Let the experiment begin!
Yesterday I worked more on setting up our wild caught female egg laying tank and trying to catch more females. I set the light trap again in the morning, rummaged around in the workshop area for various parts, mesh and such and attempted to sew mesh tubes to cover the outflow pipe holes.
Dr. David Fields arrived from the Bigelow Laboratory in Boothbay, Maine yesterday afternoon. It’s truly amazing I haven’t met him before! He is a wonderful, warm, and jovial creature and I look forward to the little bit of time we have in putting our heads together. The poor guy did a bang up job in remaining chipper up until about 9-10 PM he started to fall asleep at the microscope while helping me sort out Calanus females. I was cooked on the first day by 6 PM!
To date, we have a few wild Calanus finmarchicus females laying eggs for us. We have to be careful when separating them out from the catch because there is another species that is so similar you have to put the animals temporarily asleep to slow them down enough to look at the structure of one pair of their legs. After we get the numbers of eggs we need from them, these females will then go into the field stations brood stock.
Before bed, I set the trap again but deeper. I had hopes that overnight I will catch gobs of females. No such luck! I went out around 6 AM to pull the trap. No wind wahoo! There were a total of 8 keepable females! Just after I was done and back in the apartment, another ice pellet squall hit. These past few days have been full of squalls. Later on after lunch, David and I were going out to set three traps and I was telling him the forecast was calling for 19 knot winds and rain but it was gorgeous, sunny and calm. Then as we were at the end of the long dock a big ice pellet squall went through that hurt! David says, “It’s Norway! You don’t like the weather wait a minute! If you have 8 hours of rain, wait because you may get 8 more of sun!”
This afternoon Reidun came by with her two beautiful kids and took us for an adventure to the far west, open North Sea side of the island. Spectacular!
More on that tomorrow with pictures. Now is time for bed, it’s already 11PM!
I arrived after a long travel that started at noon May 2 in Portsmouth, NH on a bus and then ended after two planes, a ferry and a nice Volvo ended in Austevoll, Norway on May 3 at the Institute of Marine Research around noon. I made myself stay awake until Norway sleep time to get on their schedule, so that meant I was awake for 48 hours (stinky and greasy too)
Dr. Jeffrey Runge and I, who are from the University of Maine, were part of a team that was awarded a grant to study Calanus with Dr. Howard Browman at the IMR. I’m here to start setting up the experiment. There are a few logistical hurdles to overcome but I feel strongly that we’ll be successful.
The IMR is a fantastic water front field station for the University of Bergen. The station is most well known for the advancements they have made in aquaculture of salmon, halibut and cod. Their facility is quite impressive with huge tanks of halibut and cod broodstock and various halls built for the support of rearing these fish. They also have a resident “broodstock” of Calanus that has been thriving for approximately 13 generations. Moreover, they have great labs that house state of the art equipment for microbiology, plankton, and various other topics.
Not to ignore the location! They can catch Calanus right off their dock with a little dipnet! I was amazed at the diversity of the gelatinous and echinoderm zooplankton. The copepod species diversity consisted of only 5 species,Calanus, Oithina, Temora, Acartia and Oithona. How easy is that?
I’m falling in love with the country as well. Everything is Eco-friendly; lightbulbs are all CFL, recycling is mandatory, you get a tax break for a two-seater car, radiant floor heat is predominant, meat is normally hormone free, ice cream is fantastic, dairy products are more abundant (more cheese varieties, yogurt and such), salmon is not raised in awful tank conditions but out between islands in big net pens, a kid can chose to go to a farming or a maritime high school, there are magpies, one of the most important business people in the country is a woman that runs the government energy department, they were Vikings! (my favorite history topis of all), the people are all amazingly nice so far and not lastly, the country has the best habitat of all, where the mountains meet the sea. I only wish I had the time to go to the Viking museum I heard about…
So today was my first day wandering around gearing up for tomorrow. I have to do some sewing (they can make their own plankton nets!!!!!), pull a light trap that we set overnight, finish setting up our temporary tank for collecting eggs from 300 wild-caught female Calanus, collect those aforementioned Calanus females while making sure they are indeed the species of Calanus we want…ohh and do the egg count from the females the station has already. That should do it.
AND take a walk to enjoy where I am. I’ll post pictures taken from my real camera. The iPad 2 camera is not very good.
Tusen takk for visiting!