Posted by: atomfullerene | July 25, 2008

The Science

My previous post on Bodega was getting pretty wordy, so I decided to shunt the part about my experiment over to a new post.  I am here to help Cascade Sorte (interesting name, translates roughly to “waterfall attack raid”) with her project.  The system being studied is the community of fouling organisms.  More or less, this is the stuff that grows on hulls, docks, and piers.  It consists largely of mussels, tunicates, barnacles,  bryzoans, algae, and other stuff.  Cascade is focusing mostly on the squishy stuff, namely tunicates and bryzoans.  This is what they look like.

Foul is right, huh?  To get an idea of scale, the rectangular plates are 10cm on a side.  The UT orange bits are colonial tunicates, while the red patches and the brown hairy bits are bryzoans.  Anyway, these plates are pretty grown-up, but we are studying the babies.  We stuck out a bunch of those gray plates (which I made) and let larvae settle out on them.  These larvae (now baby colonies) are then put into this array of tanks and another array like it.

Individual tanks are kept at different temperatures–hopefully the babies will grow at different rates.  Each of the tanks get part of their water changed every day, which makes for a fun job for me.

As you can see, I has a bukket!  Two actually.  I use that wheelbarrow to carry inordinate amounts of water in the buckets from the inflow pipes out back to a culture tank, and then from the culture tank to fill up the little tanks.  You see, the water running to the lab is filtered, and therefore lacks microorganisms for the tunicates to eat. So I have to go get the unfiltered stuff.  I might actually be buff after a month and a half of this, if I can avoid throwing my back out.   (It may seem like I am complaining here, but don’t get the wrong idea–this is just how it goes, I don’t really mind)

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