Pteropod experiments on board of a cruise ship

9 June 2016

Lisette Mekkes is a student of the MSc programme Limnology&Oceanography at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics. To get into marine science has been her dream since she was very little. 'Oceans cover most of our Earth, while so much needs to be discovered yet!' wrote Lisette on her blog. She started to work with pteropods during the first MSc project under supervision of Dr. Katja Peijnenburg, at Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden.

Lisette takes part in the West Coast Ocean Acidification cruise part of the The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) on board of NOAA research vessel 'Ronald H. Brown'. The setup and experiments are lead by Nina Bednarsek, NOAA.

Experiment set up

During this cruise, Lisette will assist Nina with Styliola pteropod collection and her shipboard experiments. They will look at the effects of future ocean chemistry on these organisms. Moreover, this MSc project will be a first collaboration between Nina Bednarsek and Katja Peijnenburg, Naturalis. Katja received a grant from KNAW Ecology Fund to make it possible for Lisette to collect pteropods along the cross-shore transect in order to obtain predictive understanding of the potential of pteropods to adapt to changing ocean acidification. Lisette also received a Graduate Grant from the Malacological Society of London to support this project.

Lisette talks about her research experience

'Days like weeks and weeks like days. It is difficult to maintain awareness of time during the West Coast Ocean Acidification cruise on the largest NOAA research ship 'Ronald H. Brown'. Every day brings a new environment; deep blue, flat ocean, to fierce storms with high waves, up to beautiful views once we get closer to the coast; mountains, uninhabited islands and cliffs. Not a day passed that I realise how special this experience is. There are a total of 58 people on board, including many scientists, but also the boatmen, cooks, engineers and NOAA crew members. A hugely varied and interesting team that besides catching pteropoden, workon different scietific tasks such as: collecting water from different ocean depths, analysing everything oxygen levels, alkalinity and DOC.'

Pteropods-Lisette-MSc L&O

One of the catches; Heliconoides inflata, copepod, shrimp, baby octopus

From Mexico to Canada

The work will be done along the west coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The cruise began on 5 May in San Diego. Once the cruise started, they created on the ship their 'floating laboratory' in order to capture during the cruise pteropoden and exposing it to CO2 and temperature differences, related to climate change and ocean acidification. 'How do you combine the use of the right materials, with scientific issues and continuously moving boat? Finally the experiments run now.' Lisette said.

By now they passed Mexico, zigzagging along the coast up to San Francisco, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge and continued their way up on the line of Crescent City, California, and now coming in Limacina paradise.

We thank Lisette for sharing with us the beginning of her amazing story on board of this scientific cruise ship.

NOAA vessel

A powerful storm on the ocean along Northern California on the board of the NOAA research vessel 'Ronald H. Brown'

Source: Katja Peijnenburg, Naturalis

Published by  IBED