Well I was able to get an later start today since the tide was being cooperative. I believe it was a 9 ish low tide. It was very foggy out……you could see maybe 20 ft out from the shore and it was worse on the boat. Luckily, Dr Kidder knew how to navigate in it. It was wild.
I went out today with Ted, Kat, Dr. Disney, Emma and Dr. Kidder to collect water quality information that the DEP required for monitoring the nutrient growth experiment with eel grass. This was an extensive array of tests that needed to done and documented perfectly (or as near as possible) so they could be accurately processed. It took longer then usual to arrive at Barry Cove (the fog) and we started sampling at site 4. We each had a specific role during this outing. It was not predetermined but developed as we started. My primary role at first was to collect water for turbidity work and to help Dr. Disney filter seawater and collect phytoplankton. Each of the others performed their tasks and we gathered a great deal of data and samples. We repeated this at each of the other sites (3 – 1).
After collecting the surface samples we proceeded back to site 4 and Ted, Dr. Disney and myself entered the water to collect pore water. This was my third day in the water with a wet suit and I think I am finally getting the hang of it…..
This round of sample collection as very challenging. We were using a rig they created to draw pore water out of the sediment. This is to help determine what chemicals and nutrients might be accumulating from their work. Their tool seemed to work quite well at first but then we ran into complication after complication. We had to try to problem solve on the fly and tried a variety of things (adding filters, priming the pump first, Trying different methods of probe placement and pumping), until we were able to finally get out samples. It was stressful since the tide was coming in at this time and our window to collect these samples was closing fast. The problem was that these tests are all time sensitive PLUS linked together so to miss a part could mess up the whole thing. Luckily Ted had an idea to try starting in the water column and then lowering into the silt to get the pore water. I caught the flow only after the surface water had cleared the drain tube and it was drain sediment laden water.
These water samples were then carried over to the boat where they were filtered and stored in a cooler to be shipped out to a testing facility.
After we returned there was a great deal of cleaning and testing to do. I assisted with the cleaning first. And later that afternoon I helped ID Phytoplankton from our morning work and assisted Dr Disney with checking some water samples taken the other day for ASP poisons (luckily it turned out to be a negative).
I finished the day out making grids and looking at ways to analyze and report data.
Another early start. I arrived here at 6:30 am so I could get ready to catch the low tide. Today I went out wit Kat and Jane to mark eel grass at all the Barry Cove sites to check for growth. The process is quite simple. Poke a hole in the meristem and after 48 hours record the difference in growth. The hole should leave a visible scar that is easily detectable.
Walking through the silt to each site was very difficult. We saw so many little critters (most moved so fast I could not ID them). There were many shrimp, crabs and flatfish. Cool.
After returning to the lab we cleaned all the gear.
I spent the afternoon learning how to determine the composition of marine sediment at Barry Cove, Thomas Island and Hadley point. Next we examined each sample to determine the macroinvertebrates that were present in each sample as an indicator of the water quality. Later in the day I was also able to observe the process used to check for bacteria content at beach sites. Busy day!
Wow! We started at 6:30 am so that we could be ready to hit the ground running once low tide. I met everyone at the lab and donned my wetsuit. This was my first time in this getup. Not the most comfortable of things.
I rode over to Hadley point and helped upload the truck. We then went to work tieing previously harvested eel grass to the grids. The main thing is the tie the eel grass to that the rhizome is on the bottom and in contact with the soil. That way it will hopefully take root and grow. It was important to make sure that it was tied on in such a way that is did not rub on the rope if it shifted over time. We anchored each the meristem, which is the area of new shoot growth.
We had twenty of these grids to assemble, after which we placed them in the water until we were ready to depart to the restoration site.
We loaded it the grids on to the boat and went over to Barry Cove where we placed the grids in a line. Each grid, was placed approximately once grid length apart. We marked the beginning and ending point of the plot with marked poles and then took GPS coordinates to add to the GIS map. We then boarded the boat and made our way back to the lab to clean up and stow our gear.
After another awesome lunch we spent the afternoon looking at the eel grass to discover what critters call it home. There were a huge variety of critters that could be seen with the dissection scope and compound microscope. The microscope had a camera that enabled us to capture images of the critters. The best results were obtained when we scrapped the gunk off the eel grass blades. We saw a number of two tentacled worms. They were cool.
We wrapped the day up with learning how to take the GPS data and use GIS software to map is to the bay. There were so many ways to use and display this data.
Today was the beginning as my week as an intern. I have done similar work before, but it was always in the lab and in a very controlled setting. After the initial meeting it become clear this would be in the field and much more open then my past experiences. I be began with the initial meeting where we planned the week and met everyone else on the team. There was myself, Dr. Disney, Dr. Kidder, a teacher mentor Ted (from Bangor) and John and his four students from Waterville Highschool.
After the meeting we toured the campus and the aquarium. We went to the newest building on campus and spent a little time learning more about the life cycle of eel grass and the research Dr Disney and Dr. Kidder had been doing.
After a wonderful lunch we learned how to test for water dissolved oxygen using the Winkler titration test. I have done this test before, but it was interesting to see how they did it. We also tested the the salinity of the water using a salinity refractometer(http://youtu.be/nMApg9fqqDA).
It was really interesting to so how the students reacted to this. So engaged.
We ended the day tieing grids so that, come morning, we could begin setting up a restoration plot for Waterville High School. These grids were unique in that they were 100% biodegradable. The advantage of these is that they did not have to be removed and would required the disturbance of the newly planted eel grass.