As I mentioned in my previous post, I am collaborating with the brilliant Logan Brenner. So last Friday I went to the prestigious Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory to visit Logan and learn more about our endangered oceans.
Logan introduced to many scientists throughout the tour of the facilities and I was pleasantly surprised how eager they were to tap into their creative side. One scientist, Allison Jacobel, showed me pteropods (teeny shell forming creatures at the fore front of the ocean acidification disaster as their shells dissolve more quickly in acidic waters, and there extinction would have far reaching effects on the ocean’s food system) with googly eyes! I thought it would be interesting to somehow personify something that, as a part of it’s microscopic size, seems so insignificant.
Another scientist, Jesse Farmer, was joking about putting pantomime faces on creatures with slowly dissolving shells. The other academics laughed at this ridiculous idea but I actually really loved the thought of using a little theater to get the word across!
I was also able to learn a lot during my day at the lab. Ocean acidification has been a buzz topic for the last decade or so and the number of citations for this term have risen exponentially. However, while this is a growing concern in the scientific community there is still issues trying to reach the masses because of psychological boundaries. We, as humans, have a hard time imaging the vastness of the oceans, or thinking about how 100 years isn’t all that far away. I also learned about foram, a type of plankton scientists use to study our oceans. Even though the pteropods get a lot of the spotlight because of their rapidly decaying shells and eminent threat they pose on the food system, foram are archiving our ocean’s histories. When foram die they sink to the bottom of the ocean into the sediment and then scientists can use their chemistry to determine the chemistry of the ocean. Laura is currently looking at sediment containing foram that’s 60 million years old! This is also the last time in our geological timeline where the oceans were comparable to the state that they are in now.
Here are some more photos from my trip: