Final Thoughts: Steve Blatnica Midpark High School

October 2, 2010

On this final day of Cal-echoes research expedition I would like to pull together some final thoughts for my students to consider.

The first is how important and critical it is for all students to have the sense of inquiry and investigation. Some students are intimidated by science. I think some of that comes from the misconception that it is somehow out of reach. My suggestion is to not always accept what you think you know. It is truly something amazing, but true in almost every discipline in science the fact that we have so many gaps in our knowledge of how the world works. Don’t think for a minute that we know even close to everything. Realistically, what’s in your science textbooks may actually turn out to be inaccurate as we uncover new evidence. Science could never stand still. So… there is much to do, and you can contribute to that knowledge.

This is completely evident on this cruise. 5% of the ocean has been explored. When you look at a map of earth you can’t escape the realization that the oceans make up such a vast part of it. Knowing that 95% of that space has yet to be explored is an invitation to you all. Science is open to you. I can tell you that in my many conversations this week I’ve heard many things and honestly one of those statements from the researchers has been “we really don’t know.” Now to some that may seem like the researchers may not be knowledgeable about the topic. I can assure you that these scientists are certainly experts in their field. The fact they are uncertain about many things does not mean they are unqualified. In fact, to me, it says something about how much work there is to do.Those mysteries in the natural world are intriguing to me. The unknown is around us.

Tons to do. This job, of doing science, I’m hopeful you’ve experienced is certainly not done by old men in white lab coats with crazy hair and fascination for mixing concoctions is not really how it works. Women, men, young, and old from all types of cultural representations came together to work on this expedition. This interdisciplinary group of biologists, chemists, computer programmers, engineers, geologists, climatologists, physicists, and geneticists bring their expertise and a new way of thinking about our natural world together. That’s how it really works.

Science is open to all, but especially to those that are impressed by the natural world, and have the sense of wonder about it. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have those feelings or thoughts, at least some of the time.

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Where am I, When am I: Steve Blatnica, Midpark High School

October 1, 2010

I thinkthe week is coming to an end. there are several ways in which I know this.

1. All of my clothes have mud on them. (That’s as straight forward as its sounds) I’m running out of clothes, as I wasn’t expecting the cool temperatures we’ve experienced at sea.

2. The researchers are reaching the data saturation point. Many have relaxed, and the stressful running around seems to have slowed up a bit. Most researchers are now beginning to sort through a lot of information this cruise has provided. The geologists have all the sediment packed up in anything that will hold mud. Including the buckets that don’t belong to them. Trust me, they heard about it. It has been a source of comic relief for several days. It even has inspired a sort of apology song and dance performance from the geologists. Although I didn’t observe it directly, I’ve heard from those who did. I’m sure it will be on youtube soon enough. I suppose they could fill their pockets with sediment.

3. My camera memory card is filled. I’ve taken over 400 shots. I myself have come to data saturation. The collection of shots I’ve taken hopefully can bring the experience alive to my students and my memory. I can’t wait to share the experience .

Most of the day today I spent replying to my students through the expedition blog. I’ve been impressed by the thoughtful questions and responses Midpark students have given. Many of the researchers have as well enjoyed reading the posts and responding to them. Some have been impressed that anyone responded to their posts. So, well done everyone. To be honest, the response to the blog posts has been more than what everyone expected. We’ve had over 3,100 blog views. When I tell everyone that stat I mostly get: ” Really?” Yeah, really. This means only one thing…. Students are interested and excited about the science that is happening here. It has been quite an experience, and I’ve taken back conversations, observations, techniques, and appreciation for the opportunity to share this with others.

Tomorrow being the final day, I decided to help out with one of the final deployments. I picked up a rod and jig to help Iliana Ruiz-Cooley on squid jigging. Jigging is just like fishing, you cast out and pull, reel in, and repeat. Unfortunately, we caught zero squid, just as others experienced. However, zero is still data. Nothing is something. Remember that.

Got a big one!

Hey, what's down there?

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Successful Communication- Jerry Ruiz

I’m happy to report that the educational goal of producing a video each day on different themes and getting it to the classroom for the entire week has been achieved. We have even gone over and above that by having a video-conference with students in a couple of classrooms. It is amazing what we can do with technology now. I think we were able to bring what we are doing out here to the kids and hopefully spark an interest in becoming a scientist. Personally, I’ve gained a better understanding of doing research and what it takes for something like this to be successful. Not to mention the fact that I feel like have learned more about the California coast in the last week than I did in my previous forty plus years of living in Southern California, which is something I hope to bring back to the class. The fact that learning is forever not something your trying to get out of the way so you can have a career. For me this has been a success both personally and professionally. I just want to thank my wife for supporting me and getting me out of my comfort zone because that’s when real growth happens. And I’m not just referring to my waistline:)

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Photos Galore!

Want more photos? Curios about the process of box coring, the IKMT or another sampling process? Check out our Daily Media page to view a plethora of awesome photo albums!

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Small organisms, big jobs – Juan Ugalde

Every time you look around you see species diversity around you: you can see many types of trees, animals, etc. The ocean is no different in this respect. You look around and you may see fishes, birds, sharks, or marine mammals (like the sea lion that decided to hang out with us during our night shift). But there is more diversity than meets the eye: in the microbial world!! It is likely that one of the first things that comes to mind about bacteria is their role in diseases and infections. Although that is true, it is only a small fraction of the diversity of microorganisms that we can find around us. They play very important roles in all ecosystems, and are a very important component of the oceans.

Microbes are extremely abundant in the oceans: on average we can find close to 1 billion bacterial cells – including hundreds of species- in a single liter of seawater. The microbial biomass in the world’s oceans has been estimated to be almost 90% of the total ocean biomass!!

Microorganisms play a very important role in cycling nutrients in the oceans. They also are able to sustain communities in environments such as volcanic vents or methane seeps. But, a relatively unexplored role for microorganisms in the marine environment is their direct relationship with the animals that live in it. Almost every animal, including ourselves, carries a different set of microbial species that live within us.

An especially interesting set of microorganisms is found in the gut. These microbes are adapted for life in gut conditions: they process the food ingested by the organism, gaining energy for themselves while also providing nutrients to their host that it would not otherwise be able to absorb. A common example is the community of microbes that lives in the gut of termites: they allow the insect to process the cellulose in wood. One of the questions that I want to investigate is how this type of relationship works in the marine environment. I’m looking at the microbial diversity within the gut of fishes that live in the Santa Barbara Basin, and using this information to get a better idea of the deep relationship between microbes, animals and their habitat. Do we see the same type of microorganisms in all fish species, or there are species-specific types? How might the diet of each fish affect this microbial diversity? Are there interesting metabolic functions that the microorganisms are doing inside the fish guts that are beneficial for the fishes?

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Ups & Downs – ship’s log by Karl Wutzer

first time on a cruise // afraid of seasickness – feel drunk, although alcohol is forbidden // wow, the moon is moving, oh, wait a moment, it’s the ship // sun is shining, sea is calm // feeling great.

suffering from jetlag – waking up at 3 am – day shift begins at 5 am // box core deploying – operating the a-frame – yeah! big machines // always wear lifewest and hardhat! // waiting – depth: 253 m, 254 m, 255 m – waiting // „Hey, how are you? What’s your name again?“ Nice guys everywhere // preparing piston core: writing with „mark-a-lot“ on plastic pipes the section numbers // waiting – depth 530 m // box core is coming up again – wating… – operating a-frame // box core is on the ship again – playing in the mud – terrible smell – where you smell H2S you can expect pyrite – good // measuring pH in different depths – writing down date, time, coordinates and corename – preparing destillated water to calibrate // sediment sampling: use vakuum pump to preserve sediment layers // Sing (all): „Oh this wonderfuuuul muuuud!“

inside 7.30 am // having great american breakfast – never eaten so many eggs before // looking what the others are doing in the lab // WOW! Didn’t like bacterial mats very much until looking at it through mikroskope – discovering a new universe! Wow, just … Wow // Greg is taking pictures of the bacteria – have now a new screensaver for my laptop // Think of an advertising: The biggest moments in live are when you feel the smallest // feel small.

outside 10 am // don’t forget coffee – miss italian espresso // feeling awake eventually // deploying piston core // 18 meter coring – earth history since Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) – excited // lunch 11.30 am – tastes good, for vegetarians as well – veggie hot-dogs!!! Thanks to Marc the chef // always good to know the cook.

afternoon // kasten core // sedimentprofiles are like a history book, but in general there are some pages missing due to erosion or bioturbation and it is impossible to figure out what happend // in this kasten core there is nearly no page missing // can count layers almost like treerings // looking at this 2 m long kasten core, imagine 2000 years of history and feeling small again.

what a wonderful experience it is to be on this cruise // I’ve learnt a lot and met so many nice people // american scientists are beautiful, „southern californian scientists are the most beautiful“ (NORRIS et al. 2010).

// and, never trust a german on a cruise:

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Food Webs Vid on YouTube

As you may have noticed, there is a lag time between when the videos are available for download and when they arrive on YouTube. That is because computers on the Melville are not able to access the YouTube website at all, thus all uploads, and even the YouTube account itself, are available thanks to a friend of mine. Thank you very much Bryson!

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