So, I went in the field, I collected water, then I brought it all back. All 133 liters of it. Of course, this did not happen as perfectly as we planned it, but that’s science, and some of the more interesting findings often come instances of improvisation. For instance, we took two pieces of water collection equipment into the field this month, and one of them performed beautifully (our ISCO, which collects 1 liter of water every 2.5 hours), and the other one failed to even start for the first sampling. This was our monsoon pump, which is able to pump 40 liters of water in less than 5 minutes. We usually use this to collect our “tide samples” which we analyze for various biomarkers (compounds that can tell us about the source and degradation of the water). Because of this, I was unable to get the first low tide of the sampling period. Bummer. I was able to get the pump for the next 3.5 samplings, but she died again during the last one, and we had to sample in a less than ideal way (I won’t detail them here, but for reference, the water in Taskinas in March is pretty cold). Fortunately, we were able to get two high tides and two low tides by taking a sample later in the sampling time frame, and my biomarker analyses were saved.
Once we collected all of this water, I dragged my sleep-deprived self and all 133 liters of water to back to lab to start filtering. Because our lab is sparsely populated currently, I split the filtering into two days. The first day (the same day sampling ended) was spent filtering the large biomarker samples, because I felt that they were more fragile, and the second day was devoted to the ISCO samples. The large biomarker samples are poured into large stainless steel carboys, and with the help of a little nitrogen gas, get pushed through some fairly large filters. This usually takes about 5-8 hours, but fortunately only took me 5-6 hours for the March sampling. The second day was spent taking each ISCO jar and filtering its yummy contents so that I could analyze for chlorophyll-a, total suspended solids, particulate organic carbon, dissolved organic carbon, and stable isotopes. Although the ISCO only gives me 11 liters of water, it takes almost as long to filter that water as it does the large biomarker samples because we are looking at more parameters.
All of those samples are happily in freezers awaiting the day that I will pull them out and say, “Today little filter/bottle of water, you will get turned into data.” Now it’s time to get ready to do this all over again… but wait! We’re not doing an April sampling, which means I can get caught up on lab work, and play with our new toy! Hooray! (Our new toy will be the topic of a future blog post, but for those interested, it’s a brand new YSI EXO2, the new water quality measuring sensor, and a couple of new probes to attach to it).
That’s all for now folks, until next time!