Diel Sampling: Update

Well Day 1 has come and starting to end though my day will still go on for another 10-12 hours. When I woke up this AM, the ship was tossing and rolling quiet a bit for being in the Gulf. The first time point was at 0600 and between lack of sleep, an early morning, and some good waves, I wasn’t exactly feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, nor was anyone else. Alas, the day went on and the time points began to come and go.

2015-08-20 06.07.08
Waiting for the first CTD cast…also a snap of Lauren Gillies thinking hard about what what their game plan is

The first and second time points were split up by a trip just past the site C6B where Dr. Nancy Rabalais (LUMCON) and Dr. Brian Roberts (LUMCON) took sediment cores for experiments they wanted to run back at LUMCON.

2015-08-20 08.42.31
Setting up the box corer for sampling on the RV Pelican

The second time point was quiet, it was just me sampling so I had the whole CTD to myself. But of course the day isn’t complete without some type of problem ! HA! I am three for three on cruises that have some sort of issue, but some say thats oceanography. Anyways, thanks to the awesome crew of the RV Pelican, and some patience, we got the hydraulics fixed and were able to once again deploy the CTD.

2015-08-20 10.42.57
The sampling set up…woo! Make sure you secure your Yeti things.

While on the water, you get to see a lot of things : dolphins, fish, jelly fish, etc. But today, between time point three and four, I got to see a Water Spout which I was really excited about. It was pretty far away and the only picture we got is thanks to Mary Kate.

2015-08-20 17.56.35
Look to the left of the oil rig and there is a line from the water to the clouds. That is the water spout! Thank again to Mary Kate Rogener for the photo. 

Overall, all is going well. I am waiting for time point 5 to come (2200) and then hopefully get a nap in before time point 6 (0200). Follow my twitter account (@Hensonmw_08) for more live updates. Enjoy some pictures!

2015-08-20 18.40.15
1800 Time Point means everyone is out sampling
2015-08-20 15.08.20
Setting up on the station C6B. Thanks Ari for the photo! 
2015-08-20 06.34.50
Sunset on the Northern Gulf Of Mexico



Diel sampling: Cruise number two with the LUMCON team

Today, we board the RV Pelican for a second time in two weeks. The Thrash lab will be sampling with Mary Kate Rogener (@mkrogener) from Dr. Samantha Joye’s lab (UGA), Post Doc Ari Chelsky (Brian Roberts, LUMCON), Lauren Gillies and Erin (@GilliesLE) from Dr. Olivia Mason (FSU), and Wokil Bam from Dr. R. Eugene Turner‘s lab (LSU) under the lead of Dr. Nancy Rabalais (LUMCON).

The RV Pelican sitting in Port at LUMCON.
The RV Pelican sitting in Port at LUMCON.

Unlike the NGOM Shelfwide Hypxoia cruise, we will be focusing this cruise on two sampling sites within the Hypoxia transect over 24 hours.

the 2015 NGOM Shelfwide Hypoxia transect. We will be sampling two sites from two transects over 24 hours time periods. Figure credit to Dr. Nancy Rabalais and Dr. Leslie Smith
The 2015 NGOM Shelfwide Hypoxia transect. We will be sampling two sites from two transects over 24 hours time periods. Figure credit to Dr. Nancy Rabalais and Dr. Leslie Smith.

Sampling will once again include three depths, while collecting water for nutrient data and filters for microbial community data. The idea will be similar to our Fronts sampling.

Others on the cruise will be working on sediment cores (I am excited for this!) as well as work on biogeochemistry rates.

Follow along as we go on our five day journey! And don’t be afraid to ask some questions! And Make sure to follow me on Twitter for live updates (@Hensonmw_08) as well as Mary Kate (@mkrogener) and Lauren (@GilliesLE).

Back of the RV Pelican
Back of the RV Pelican
LUMCON at night
LUMCON at sunset
The LUMCON emblem on the RV Pelican
The LUMCON emblem on the RV Pelican



Sampling Lake Borgne

Last week David and I got up early enough to duck a series of storms coming through the region for some sunny sampling on Lake Borgne. This also saw the maiden voyage of a new Thrash Lab capital acquisition, the R/V Schipperke. We put in at Campo’s Marina, toodled out to a site past the old fort (these are commonplace in this region), and took measurements and water collections. The water was almost fresh, with a salinity ~5. David used these to inoculate the latest high throughput cultivation experiment since Mike Henson is currently at the C-MORE summer course. Here are some photos.

On the way through the cut
David taking YSI readings


Failed dive attempt at C6C

Last week we sailed on the R/V Acadiana to C6C to de-winterize the SONDE attachments only to be stymied by a jack-up rig and increasingly bad sea state. We sailed for three hours, and when we arrived, the water was calm enough to dive, so we suited up. With the first team of divers literally standing on the transom to jump in, a jack-up rig radioed for us to wait so they could post up near our dive site. We waited for two hours on station (incidentally, we could have completed everything we needed to do in that time), with 10-15 kt wind on the water for the duration, and when the first team finally splashed, the sea state was trash. Dive Safety Officer Lora Pride called it all off. These things happen. But there were some good photos, and a video of the scene out there at C6C before we got stopped, so I thought I’d post them. We’ll be out again soon.

The R/V Acadiana poised for action at dawn
The LUMCON docks at 0 dark 30.
Heading out, with an old friend coming in – the R/V Pelican returning to LUMCON
Breakfast on the ship- a major perk of the Acadiana!

Here you’ll see some video of one of the many service helicopters that land on the rig and some of us getting ready on the back of the Acadiana. The sea state is relatively calm at this point, so it would have been perfect timing to dive.


Back at the dock, our dive flags still flying. We’ll get ’em next time


FRONTS: a 24 Hour Microbial Survey

A few weeks back, Dec. 18-19, Dr. Thrash and I took part in sampling the tidal exchange at Barataria Pass in Grand Isle, Louisiana in collaboration with Dr. Chunyan Li (http://www.oceandynamics.lsu.edu/) from the LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. The sampling involved a 24 hour survey across Barataria Pass collecting physical ocean, microbial community, and chemical data.

The day started early with us leaving Baton Rouge at zero dark thirty so that we could be in Grand Isle and ready to sample by 0900. Beyond running out of coffee mid trip, the drive down was smooth and filled with great views of the land slowly disappearing to be replaced by more and more water. Once on Grand Isle, we made base camp at the cozy Sand Dollar Motel and the accompanying marina.

This type of sampling was a first for me. The sampling scheme had a crew, composed of Dr. Li, Dr. Thrash, Mr. Eddie Weeks, and myself, sampling every 4 hours. The sampling consisted of collecting water for microbial community and chemical analysis, and realtime data from a YSI and CTD at three different points. Then two laps across the Barataria Pass were performed to collect the physical data using an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) attached to the front of our boat.

View from the docks in at the Grand Isle marina
The sampling gear getting ready to be loaded onto the boat.

The sampling would take about an hour from start to finish. The water was collected using a peristaltic pump that was onboard the boat and the water was transferred to shore where the filtering took another bit of time. We used the same protocol we have detailed before and you can watch here: https://thethrashlab.com/2014/10/08/thrash-lab-sampling-at-calcasieu-lake-jetties/

Mr. Weeks, Dr. Thrash discussing science during an ADCP run.

We were lucky because for the most part the water remained calm, and the rain held off for most of the day and night. The weather was a bit chilly for the Louisianans, but I didn’t mind it too much. On many of our passes, we were lucky enough to be accompanied by dolphins, who seemed to very interested in the ADCP that was on the front of our boat.

The ADCP on front of the boat that seemed to really excite the dolphins.

They would swim along with us as we sampled and recorded our data, and even sometimes interrupted the signal by swimming underneath.  However, they made for awesome pictures and entrainment. Not many microbiologists get to say they sampled with dolphins.

A dolphin swimming in front of the boat as we sampled with the ADCP

As most of you readers know, the Thrash lab really enjoys finding new ways to showcase the science we are doing; this blog being one of them. While sampling for this project, we were lucky enough to have the talents of Mr. Eddie Weeks, who also works as a drone pilot for a variety of purposes. You can check out some of his videos here http://vimeo.com/user473306.  Mr. Weeks, along with driving our boat and helping sample, brought along a drone to help video some of our work. We were able to use our GoPro to video some of our setup process in between sampling. In the future, we hope to use a more detailed setup but for now this is pretty awesome if you ask us!

The drone
Getting ready to fly the drone.

Though the sampling was long, we made it through the whole 24 hour period successfully and got some great images and data to go along with it. We would like to thank coffee for its kind contributions of keeping us awake during this trip including the 0400 time point.

The crew at 4am. We probably needed more coffee.

Cheers to all and hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday break.

Signing off,


Our Trip to the Atchafalaya River Delta for sampling

Well it was that time again, time to go acquire another water sample as part of the LSU Culture Collection and surveying of the microbial communities of Southern Louisiana coastline grant. For this site, because we had a prospective student with us, we decided to pick somewhere to see the beauty of Southern Louisiana. Though I find myself spoiled having lived near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan, there is nothing like driving along a road with over hanging Oak tree branches that are covered in Spanish Moss with the sun just peaking through. So we picked a site near the Atchafalaya River mouth, the site was Burns Point Recreational Park in Franklin, La.

The “adventures” have become less dramatic as we have become more acquainted with how to properly get our act together, but this time instead of a change in site like the last time, it was just cold. Okay… for most of you not from the South, it wasn’t that cold. It was roughly 32-40F when we were driving and sampling and for someone from the North after the last winter this weather is getting close to shorts weather.

Burn's Recreational Park, Franklin, LA
Burn’s Recreational Park, Franklin, LA
The cool transition zone between the Bay and the swamp area. This was to the right of where we sampled.

With the help of some friendly Duck Hunters of Louisiana, we were able to have a sample taken just off the launch site away from the shoreline and boat channel.

Looking out towards Marshall Island and where our sample was taken.

Once we had our water sample, we followed our previously demonstrated protocol (see https://thethrashlab.com/2014/10/08/thrash-lab-sampling-at-calcasieu-lake-jetties/) of filtering 100mL of water through a 2.7um prefilter followed by a 0.2um sterivex filter. We also collect water for nutrients and cell culturing. To compliment the nutrient data and to provide ever more information, we also took our handy YSI reader with us to get real time data from the site.

Don’t say that as a Graduate student you don’t get to live dangerously, because I will have you know that those rocks were slippery when I took the YSI readings!

Once all the data was collected and filtration done, it was back to the lab to prep the sample and inoculate dilution plates for cultures.
So cheers to another round of successful sampling and here is to hoping we “Catch ’em all”.
–Michael Henson

Platform dive number 3 at Pelto-6.

Last Saturday (12/5/14) we trucked out to Pelto-6, an unmanned platform near C6C, for more training dives and practice with underwater sample collection for me. While it was raining in Baton Rouge, we had a beautiful warm day in the Gulf. Water temps were ~69˚F, max bottom depth was 46 ft. There were some Portuguese man of war on the surface, but they were drifting away from the platform and posed a minimal danger. On our third dive of the day, I shot this GoPro footage (Hero 3). It’s a little shaky, sometimes pointed in the wrong direction, and I need to move my head more slowly. But it’s useful and you can see a massive school of catfish that were hanging out in the middle of the rig, along with some other interesting creatures.