Hello! My name is Trisha, and I am a graduate student in oceanography at the University of Hawaii. I am participating in the E-Flux cruises because I am interested in how physical processes interact with and affect biological processes in the ocean. Life at sea is a lot fun, but it is also a lot of hard work.
I run experiments that have to be sampled each morning before the sun rises.
Because of this, a typical day for me begins at 2:45am. I wake up, brush my teeth, throw on some clothes and head upstairs to my lab.
Here, I make sure I have all of the bottles, chemicals, tubing and equipment I need to take my samples.
By 4 am, I am ready to remove my samples from the incubator. This incubator has fresh seawater running through it at all times so the samples are kept at the same temperature as the water. It is blue on the outside because I have to filter the sunlight that enters the incubator. The organisms in my samples cannot survive in direct sunlight--it's too bright!
It takes me about two hours to do all of my sampling. I sample nutrients, pigments and oxygen. The oxygen samples are used to measure primary production (how much material organisms make) and have to sit in the incubator for 24 hours.
At 7am, it's time for breakfast. We have a cook on-board the ship who prepares all of our meals for us.
For the rest of the morning, I analyze my samples. Specifically, I measure oxygen and chlorophyll (pigment) concentrations. Oxygen is measured by doing a Winkler titration. Fortunately, this does not require me to wink while I work! I have a machine that adds chemicals to the sample and determines the oxygen concentration based on a color change in the water.
Chlorophyll concentration is measured using a fluorometer. A fluorometer flashes a light at the sample. This causes the pigments in the water to fluoresce (or glow). The machine gives me a number based on the intensity of the fluorescence (glow), which I then use to calculate the total amount of chlorophyll in my sample. By the time I do all this, it's time to eat again. Lunch on the ship is served around 11:30am.
After lunch, I finish my oxygen titrations and begin putting the results into a spreadsheet on my computer.
By 2:30pm, I have been awake for 12 hours and its time for a break. I am a long distance runner and being out at sea does not mean I get to take a break from training. I jump rope or ride an exercise bike and do pushups and sit-ups to keep myself strong. If the sea is rough and the ship is rocking, sometimes it is very difficult to keep my balance, but I try my best!
The cast for my second set of experiments goes into the water at 4pm. For these experiments, I take water from two different depths, add carbon-14, a radioisotope, and expose the water to a variety of light of varying intensity. This allows me to examine how primary production changes with light intensity. The samples are exposed to light for one hour.
While my experiments are running, I head to the galley to eat dinner. The day always seems to go by based on meals.
After dinner, I filter my radioactive samples and store the filters in the freezer so that I can analyze them when I get back to land.
Now, it is 7:30 or 8pm, and after a full day of work, I am a little bit tired! At this point, I relax and watch a movie or just head straight to bed, so I can do it all again tomorrow!
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