Last Thursday, Gavin, Austin, Brandon, Steven, and Hayden were fortunate enough to get out of class to venture out onto one of the University of Washington’s research vessels. During our field trip we researched and analyzed the planktonic species in the San Juan Islands. First, we calculated the velocity of the boat to get a consistent speed. The slowest the boat (slower means more efficient catch rate) went was 60 meters per minute. This means that after ten minutes of trawling, the net traveled 600 meters. After reaching our site, we released the planktonic net and took turns holding it in the water for a total of 10 minutes. The net was made out of microscopic mesh that would trap the plankton into the end of the net where water would be expelled out the back. After the time expired, we pulled the net back up and released the concentrated mass of plankton into a glass bottle. Our group of students and teachers then boated back to the dock and into the labs. We were amazed of the diversity of the plankton species and the non-ordinary behavior of all of the different organisms. We came across a ctenophore known as a Sea Gooseberry. This ctenophore does not have Nematocysts but does have bioluminescent organs (photophores) as well as hair-like structures known as cilia used for locomotion. The most abundant species are copepods and phytoplankton such as diatoms and some dinoflagellates. It was surprising of the amount of mass of plankton in the 57 cubic meters of water that was filtered. This was an informative field trip that was both spectacular in the technology aspects of research as well as the new biological facts that were learned from all of us. The following are pictures of the species that were observed during the trip.
from FHHS Oceanography http://bit.ly/I7bwjK
via tumblr http://genefish.tumblr.com/post/21729691650