Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dancing on strings

"Dancing on strings above the abyss, I cry
Reach for the skies"
- "Faster" by Amaranthe

My experimental set-up at the WHOI dock
Friends, today is the day! I have been waiting for barnacles to start recruiting to my monitoring plates before I could officially begin my succession study, and I'm happy to announce that my study has now begun! I saw a few barnacle recruits on the monitoring plates last week, so I knew it was time to get going. I made the final preparations, cleared my hypotheses with my advisor, and headed out to the dock with my experiment.

Working on docks is convenient because they're so accessible - literally right across the street from my office. I did run into one snag, though. My fouling panels are on large PVC sheets (see this photo), which were to hang parallel to the seafloor and upside-down, suspended from a corner of the dock by ropes on three of their four corners. However, as soon as I got the first sheet in place, I noticed that the free corner under the dock was getting caught in the current, and the sheet was getting swept up out of the water like a sail. I had to anchor the fourth corner.

Thankfully, the person responsible for the dock granted me permission to drill holes through the wooden top. I went out to the dock with a power drill, made the two openings I needed (one for each PVC sheet), and threaded the ropes through. Reaching under the dock to find the ends of the ropes was a bit tricky (I ended up taping a hammer to a broomstick and grabbing the ropes with the hammer's hook), but I made it work. With all four corners suspended by ropes from the dock, my sheets of fouling panels are in place. They can shift back and forth with the current, dancing in the water as it flows, but they'll stay suspended below the surface all summer.

I also put out a set of larval traps, and I left my monitoring plates in place. Altogether, that's 10 ropes hanging from the dock, with four apparatuses attached. I'll come back every other week to see what's on the fouling panels, collect the larval trap samples, and do any experimental manipulations I need to. It's going to be a great study!

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