snapshots from the Metcalf workshop day 1
This week I’m on the Metcalf Institute’s annual workshop for journalists; it’s based at the University of Rhode Island’s graduate school of oceanography, and it gets journalists out into the field to better understand how science and scientists work. Today (Monday) is the second day and the first full day; we started off with a dinner discussion last night that I had some serious trouble staying awake for (thanks jetlag!).
It has been COLD here – probably about 12 to 18 deg C during the day. (So much for summer.) In fact, it’s been so rainy that the organisers called off our salt marsh trip – we would have been measuring the health of a salt marsh, taking core samples, doing mist netting… when inclement weather keeps scientists out of the field, you KNOW it’s bad.
Anyway, some quick takes from what we’ve done so far.
and a small shark tank with a couple of small sharks (smoothhounds); I think they have these to impress visiting school kids. At the merest whiff of food the sharks spy-hop (this is spy-hopping) to see what’s up. Totally learned behaviour – they don’t do it much in the wild. I was duly impressed.
(Oh, wait, dagnabit! I can’t show you the video of the sharks until I convert the file format and THEN upload it! Phone, why you make it so hard for us?)
Here’s Seawater Facilities manager Ed Baker with an innocuous-looking bit of plastic. It’s pure polyethene… so it mops up hydrophobic pollutants (often emerging contaminants like bisphenol A or other volatile organic compounds) so that researchers can figure out what’s in the water.
Finally, here’s a fun thing. Remember the Pasir Ris fish die-offs in March?
We can’t be certain, but here’s a possible explanation.
Ed explained how a perfect storm of factors can lead to hypoxia or a shortage of oxygen in the aquatic environment. Oxygen is 21 per cent of the atmosphere, but only 0.5 per cent of the ocean.