This is my third cruise aboard the R/V Pelican since I joined UTMSI in April 2013. My research is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) through the consortium on the Dispersion Research on Oil: Physics and Plankton Studies (DROPPS) and focuses on understanding the fate of oil following the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. My goal in joining this cruise is to obtain surface water and seafloor sediment. Back in the laboratory, I will incubate surface water with crude oil and 13C-labeled hexadecane as a representative aliphatic hydrocarbon, or 13C-labeled phenanthrene as a representative of the more toxic aromatic hydrocarbons. I use DNA- Stable Isotope Probing (SIP), a molecular technique that can identify what bacterial groups assimilated the amended substrates. I will do the same procedure for the sediment samples but the incubation period will be longer and the temperature will be around 5℃.
It was my first time being sea sick, mostly due to the bad weather the first two days of the cruise. But that is how nature works and science can be fun despite rough seas. We have an amazing science team aboard from whom I have learned many new techniques, such as isolation of anaerobic bacteria, particle analysis, sample preservation, and handling sediment cores. While waiting for the sediment core and the CTD cast, it was great to learn about each other’s research projects and plan for future collaboration. 1
Quick mention, but the food has been great all trip! My favorite had to be when the chef made delicious Cajun food when served with rice. I hope to be back soon!
To end our research interviews, I will be introducing Ellen Roosen from WHOI. She has been maintaining and working with the camera system attached to the multi-corer that collected the sediment samples. The camera system is called MISO and belongs to Dr. Dan Fornari. It was brought aboard due to Dr. Hamdan’s need to see the ocean floor before multi-coring; need to get sediment, not parts of the shipwreck.
The system has been working great all week! Its best point is the fact that we’re getting real time imaging of the sea floor when it was down there on the multi-corer. Images have been clear enough to see tubeworm boroughs, fish, and detailed topography of the floor. The system was designed to aid scientists conducting deep-sea research. Dr. Fornari would love to get the word out about it so its use can spread and benefit more research projects.