It’s been 10 Days since we announced the experiment was stopped few days before what we scheduled. Since this date, all the material have been bring back in land (the last buoys just arrived this afternoon). And it was just on time because the passengers ferry season has started. And when one of this big floating building enter the Bay, this one seems to be very tiny. We experienced at the beginning of the experiment how it is to work on mesocosms with a ferry next to us and didn’t really liked it…
The remaining buoys near one of the first passenger ferry of the season!
So, in 10 Days the local team did a huge work of destruction and carrying the material to their place. Like for the instalation it has been a bit challenging as our marine station is in very old buildings with stairs, doors and no lift… Here are some of the pictures of the destruction activity:
The first thing we receive in land are the roofs on which only the plastic cover is removed
Then we have to remove all the rings from the plastic cover…all the material which can be re-used has to be taken!
And in between 2 activities Justine and Laure create the new fashion collection of the OOV…
After that the very dirty, smelly, sticky activity can start: remove the plastic of the bags of the pipe structure….In total 3 very unlpeasant days…
And don’t beleive we had perfect weather condition for this last step: the wind and rain are still here!!
The pontoon full of the drum (upper part): we have to deconstruct one by one after a big cleaning!
The start of the stack of smelly non-reusable plastic bags…
Forced by the meteorological conditions that we have faced in the last days, we have to stop the experiment. On March 6th, the wind blew at more than 110 km/h, creating lots of waves in the bay. We have continued the experiment for few more days, but we realized something went wrong when looking at the CTD profiles. Although our mesocosms are well covered with a Teflon roof in order to prevent rain to enter inside the bags, we saw that salinity dropped significantly at surface in all mesocosms after March 7th. Divers from LOV inspected the bags and our fear was justified. All of the bags with no exceptions presented many scratches in the first meters. We have considered (and actually tried) lifting up the bags in order to put these scratches above the sea level, but we had to give up as for some of them the bag was deteriorated way too deep below the sea surface. That is very unfortunate, Villefranche bay is a safe sheltered place for more than 350 days a year, our experiment coincided with very windy conditions from the East, allowing waves and swells to enter inside the bay. All is not dark of course, this could have happened at the start of the experiment and all in all I think we have been lucky collecting more than 2 weeks of data.
Now it’s time for us to start removing the mesocosms from the bay, our partners will move back to their home countries in the coming days and will start analysing the precious samples. We’ll come back for more news at a later stage!
Example of salinity profiles acquired since the start of the experiment and showing the continuous intrusion of external waters in the bags after the storm of March 6th.
The bad weather conditions continue and forces the different teams to stay on the labs or their rooms. Specially the wind has not been on our side. Yesterday the sampling that was suppose to take place at 8:30 was delayed until 12:30 and today`s is completely cancelled. In the morning we could hear the wind blowing strong and making things fly away in Nice. Up to 26 kts are expected, and this is sufficient to create waves that are difficult to handle during sampling.
Map of the wind forecast from: http://en.windfinder.com/forecast/nice
Security of all participants comes first, and nobody wants to fall in the waters of 12 – 13°C
So far, the panorama for tomorrow looks very different and we expect to have the normal early morning and 8:30 samplings.
When the wind come into the bay ….
For the 8th day of the experimental period we have been obliged to stay on land due to bad weather condition. The wind from North-East enter the Bay since this morning and it’s too dangerous to go sampling on our ‘cubis’. These platforms are 80cm above sea level so, when there is 50cm of short waves it make everything more complicated!!. So today was a ‘day off’. Well, not for everyone.
Actually at 6.30am, Alex and Laure (the incubation team) have been able to bring back the incubations and so, work on their samples. The incubations are bottles containing water sampled into the mesocosms the day before and kept for 24hours to measure process such as Primary Production (amount of biomass produced by microorganisms per day) or nitrogen fixation (see Lisa post). Other processes are measured by the early morning team (Mauro, Aggeliki) but don’t need to go back in situ.
Microlayer sampling similar to “roller coaster” this day!
It wasn’t a day off neither for the 8am team who had time to sample before the weather get worst!
We all hope that tomorrow we are going to be able to sample in good conditions!!
The mesocosms are in the local media (news paper and TV news). For those who can understand french or just wand to see us in action during a mesocosms sampling go to the Outreach Page.
As soon as there is media coming we’re going to add then on this page.
So, yes, it’s true, another mesocosm experiment is on the go! Kind of harder this time, if you consider the cold, the wind, the amount of analyses being done, and… the local boats that transfer tourists back and forth from the cruise ship several times! Just to provoke us that they are on holidays!
Passenger ferry entering into the bay and soon followed by boats transfer passenger doing waves and taunting us by being in holidays!!
Cold is undoubtedly the worst enemy, not only during the sampling process, but also in general, as people during wintertime need more energy (more food, more sleep… or is it only my feeling??). Energy is flying away from our bodies a bit more easily this time in Villefranche and, after only a few days of work, exhaustion is apparent! However, this is just the ‘not-so-nice’ part of the experiment. The major part is an exciting event with new and old members participating, a lot of memories and many happy and funny moments. Exploring the city in the search for dinner (as the restaurant nearby is closed, which actually didn’t disappoint us too much…let’s be honest!) as well as in the search for super markets, which are all far far away from the port!
It’s a unique experience after all that for sure gets better day by day. People are now settled down in their labs and things are more convenient than at the beginning, when a slight panic feeling overcame many of us (hm was it me?). Just joking. Positive thinking is all we need! And love (don’t forget about it even when sampling!), as the song says…
As it was said, it`s been 4 days of sampling, until now with no major complications; only the weather and few inconveniences (loosing a hook and having to replace it by a peddle, one buoy to close to allow the cubi pass through -which the divers fixed this immediately-, and the autosampler coming only half full) this are minor things that the team have outcome fast and safe. When samples arrive from the 8:30am sampling, all the bottles for the 10:00am team are ready and the team waiting. The boat just change passengers and goes back to the mesocosms. Most of us had already experienced and get into the sampling routine and its rhythm which makes things easier. The fact that Lisa runs from her Lab. to prepare tea to those coming from sampling when is very cold also helps a lot!
After sampling, scientist disappear in their labs and the pumps start its melody. On this days, however, it`s very probable that a heavy rain would be listen even stronger.
Weather forecast for tomorrow isn`t very nice; rain, cold, some wind…. we will see.
You might, as a conscientious reader of the blog, think that we are not working and don’t have anything to tell..but it isn’t the truth!!
Sampling will start tomorrow morning at 8am followed by the 8.30 and 10.30 am samplings. All participants are arrived and have set up their own lab space. Still have to organize the small details !
From now each day, one of us should be able to write her/his impressions, tell a nice story of science or life in Villefranche. Every day ??! …well, will try 😉
Since Friday, the nine mesocosms are installed on site and they’ve been deployed. That’s mean that the divers have detached the bags from the drum and fill the bags with the surrounding seawater. And finally the bags have been closed at the bottom with the sediment trap system (we’ll soon detail more our home made mesocosms in ‘About the project’).
Now we can see them from the road and do nice pictures!
Mesocosms view from the Corniche
We still have lot to do before starting sampling inside. First sampling are planed for the end of the week (21st). For the next days, we’ll have to acidify everyday by adding ‘acid’ water into the bags. We also have to finish to prepare the laboratories. Not that easy to fit all the scientists with their material!!
Six months after the end of the first MedSeA mesocosms experiment (Corsica-June/July 2012), it was time for us to meet again. Last week on Tuesday we have presented to each other our first results and Wednesday we have prepared the next experiment which will start in a month from now.
Lots of work have still to be done to show our results to the scientific community, as some of us are still collecting data. However, some interesting outcomes gave us ideas for the next experiment. It was a pleasure to discuss during the second day of the meeting about the sampling teams, the water volume and sampling types, the laboratories equipment, … The only “bad” point is that our partners realised that the water temperature will be around 13°C at this period and not above 23°C as we had in Stareso… We will have to equip ourselves with wet suit, gloves, …
Corsica view from Nice, it happen very few but it’s magic!
We are going to start the building of the mesocosms and the installation of the anchors in early February. All partners will arrive on February 15th to start setting up their laboratories. If everything goes well, we’ll start sampling on February 21st and it will last for more than a month!