Plankton Research

These large deck incubators are located just outside the ship's laboratory in an area where they are protected from rough seas. Outside view of
 Plankton incubators

Inside an ondeck
 incubatorThe deck incubator is a large box filled with seawater that is continually pumped through it from overboard in order to provide an ambient (natural) temperature "water bath." Inside the bath are large cylinders which are holding living plankton used for research during the cruise. On board experiments include measuring the rates of feeding, growth and reproduction of important zooplankton.

Inside the shipboard laboratory In the laboratory inside the ship, two scientists are sorting and studying a fresh plankton sample which was retrieved with a special net. Peter, on the left, and Bob on the right are part of a team from the University of Rhode Island. Various equipment in view includes microscopes and video recorders. Measurements of animals will be taken later from the stored video images; this saves valuable time when the animals are being handled to set up experiments or when fresh specimens are needed for biochemical analysis.

View of plankton on monitorHere in the lab, you can see some planktonic organisms on the video monitor connected to a camera on the microscope.

Larval fish are sorted and identified to species from a fresh plankton sample. The scientists are particularly looking for cod and haddock. Images are taken and recorded so that a specimen can later be measured for length. As quickly as possible, the fresh specimens are placed in liquid nitrogen (-80 degrees Celsius). Those specimens will be chemically analyzed later, in order to assess their growth rate.

Preparing larvae specimens After sorting, individual video images of larvae are recorded by computer. Individuals are then frozen in liquid nitrogen to preserve them for biochemical analysis back on land.

Betsy preparing a specimen Betsy from the Woods Hole Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service works with a specimen.

Examining samples on light
 tables Scientific crew sort fresh larval fish from a live sample brought aboard by MOCNESS nets. To help see the larvae, samples are poured into clear plexiglass trays which are sitting on "light tables" (glass-topped tables with fluorescent bulbs underneath.)

Preparing female copepods for
 incubator Pierre removes adult female copepods, Calanus finmarchicus. He will set them up in an incubator at specific temperature and photoperiod (light:dark cycle) to measure their egg production rates - an important part of understanding copepod production on Georges Bank.

From here, continue with:
  • Return to Cruise Overview
  • Cruise Preparations: Planning a research cruise.
  • Current Meter Mooring: Reporting water data via satellite.
  • Satellite-tracked Drifters: Following water (and plankton) movements.
  • MOCNESS: Multi-level underwater net sampling system for collecting plankton.
  • Conductivity, Temperature, Depth Testing: Obtaining water samples to determine conductivity, temperature, and depth.
  • Links to more research-related sites, as well as detailed, live data from buoys in the Gulf of Maine.

  • On Location Home Page