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Backyard Cruises

posted Dec 8, 2012, 2:32 PM by Kirk Sato   [ updated Dec 8, 2012, 10:12 PM ]

What motivated us to take the initiative to put these cruises together? Many of us had been discussing the option to apply for ship time via UC Ship Funds for a couple years.  It wasn’t until a year ago now, that we buckled down and set a plan into action.  The motivation for me was that (1) the work would be local, (2) I’d build collaborations among fellow graduate students to last a career, and (3) the science objectives of these cruises would not only augment my dissertation but also take me into a new realm of research, the role of Oxygen Minimum Zones in structuring biological communities.

A cirratulid polychaete from one of the multicore stations.

Working locally has been a decision I made since the beginning of my dissertation, five years now. I felt that there was something to be said about furthering our understanding of local communities, both human and nature. San Diego’s coastal ecosystems offer aesthetic, ecological and economic value to the city. Even though our waters are chilly, San Diego supports a strong diving community, included myself. The kelp forests and canyons support diverse and productive ecosystems. And, San Diego supports many fisheries including California’s largest, the market squid fishery. There’s also something to be said about the ease of access and limited logistics involved with local work.  We don’t have to be concerned with shipping, foreign clearances, customs, airfare, and costs associated with all of the above.  It has also seemed that leaving port in and out of San Diego allows more opportunities for fellow grad students and colleagues to participate in the cruise. Thus providing the opportunity to many early-career scientists who would likely not go to sea during their Ph.D. are now able to participate.

  SDCoastEx view of the SIO campus. July 5, 2012.

Collaborations with other graduate students were set at the onset of cruise planning, but they have solidified and taken shape since the first cruise.  I’ve been able to regularly interact with the marine chemists, Yui Takeshita and John Ballard, and physical oceanographer, SungHyun Nam, to enhance our understanding of oxygen and carbonate chemistry dynamics over the San Diego margin. The first component of my dissertation research is to characterize high-frequency oxygen and pCO2 dynamics in nearshore settings, particularly kelp forests. By incorporating the work being done on this cruise it is enhancing my dissertation by identifying the oxygen and carbonate chemistry setting that is influencing my study sites. In addition, I’ve been expanding my current suite of research projects to understand what drives biological community patterns along shelves and slopes that experience sharp gradients in oxygen and pCO2. On this cruise I will collect a second set of seafloor sediment samples with the multicore to characterize macrofaunal (animals > 0.3 mm) communities.  We have added on many new collaborations and research projects aimed at the seafloor sediment in low oxygen settings.  Sigrid Katz, post-doc at SIO, is interested in siboglinids (long-skinny worms) we collected during the last cruise and will hopefully collect during this cruise. We also have scientists from UC Davis, Sarah Moffit and Kate Davis, as well as Harvard post-doc, Erik Sperling, that are interested in the same question of oxygen-controls on biology  but over geological timescales – from thousands of years to hundreds of millions of years.

-  Christina Frieder, PhD Candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography