Friday, June 4, 2010

Plankton Tow

On the morning of Monday, April 12, the class climbed on board the 20-foot R/V Pugettia and set out for the Pacific Ocean to collect some plankton. Larry Draper, our boat captain, took us about a mile beyond the Coos Bay jetties, turned north to escape the river plume, and then cut the boat engine. We lowered our 153 ┬Ám-mesh plankton net into the water and allowed it to drift for several minutes. After we pulled the net out of the water, we dumped the contents of the cod end into a glass jar. When you held this up to the light, you could easily see thousands of tiny plants and animals floating and zooming around: plankton! We repeated this procedure inside the Coos Bay estuary so that we could compare the plankton between the two sites. The rest of the day was spent in the lab sorting through our catch with microscopes, observing the strange and beautiful creatures of the plankton community.

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