Urchin sampling; a tale of guts and courageMay 9, 2009
So today was day 7 of the urchin experiment and time for the first set of samples to be taken. This is supposed to be Steve’s masterplan so he left a detailed plan of wheat was to be done when. . . which we looked at decided was wrong. . . and instead spent the morning moving around equipment and forming a plan of action that looked a bit like a urchin processing factory (do you get those. . ?). We had lots of urchins to get through and for each urchin the journey went something like this:
Urchin plus pot was brought to the sampling by Karen Tait, the weight was recorded by Bonnie Laverock then I carefully extracted some coelomic fluid, which is a bit like having the doctor take some blood from your arm except it is done from near the urchin’s mouth. Some of this coelomic fluid was used to measure the total carbon dioxide, then Helen Findlay measured the pH of the fluid. Simple!
What this doesn’t tell you is that the coelomic fluid can be a little gloopy- a bit like runny snot!!- and doesn’t smell very nice! On top of that, the space inside the urchins are nearly full of ripe gonads (eggs or sperm), which is great for my other experiment on urchin fertilization which I am starting next week, but today it meant I had to be careful when drawing their ‘blood’ that I did not end up with the wrong fluid- luckily the colours are different so it is easy to tell when you get the wrong stuff!
The divers are out again at the moment and should be bringing in the rest of the urchins soon so that we can begin the short exposure (one and three day) experiments which with the sampling next week and at the end will complete our part of this experiment. All the rest of the coelomic fluid is being taken home to measure calcium levels so we have just got to keep that in the freezer.
So there you go- an insight into a Saturday in the boots of three marine biologists and a microbiologist living the dream in the arctic! Although I can’t complain too much, check out my next blog on the husky adventures from last night . . the benefit of 24 hour sunlight is that you manage to squeeze plenty into your evenings!