23 March 2004
Tuesday, 23 March 2004
This morning at 7.00am we arrived at Taiaroa Heads off Dunedin to meet a ship’s pilot to take Tangaroa into Port Chalmers. We have had to come into port as an instrument critical to our experiment has broken down and we have had to pick up a replacement from the University of Otago. I think quite a few of the scientific crew are pleased to be in port as it was pretty rough at sea yesterday a quite a few people were sea sick and stayed in their bunks most of the day. Today the weather is even worse so it is a good day to have to spend time in port. We do need to leave as soon as possible though, otherwise we will run out of time to complete our experiment before we have to return to Wellington.
The biology group on the research cruise is a multinational group with team members from New Zealand, England, Finland, Australia and the USA. The group is focused on measuring the growth of bacteria, phytoplankton (small free-floating single-cell plants), and also the zooplankton (small animal plankton) that feed on the bacteria and phytoplankton and who also eat each other. Together these critters play a crucial role in controlling the concentration in the ocean of climatically important gases like CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Farfetched as it may seem, microbes are essential modulators of our atmosphere. For instance they create the high oxygen levels in our planet’s atmosphere that we rely on. By stimulating the growth of the phytoplankton, we expect to see effects on the food web and the production or consumption of gases such as CO2 that are important in the atmosphere.
The members of the biology team are
- Julie Hall, NIWA
- Karl Safi, NIWA
- Stu Pickmere, NIWA
- Jill Peloquin, Virginia Institiute of Marine Science, USA
- Steve Archer, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK
- Jorma Kuparinen, University of Helsinki, Finland
- Graham Jones, Southern Cross University, Australia
Julie Hall, NIWA