Synergy in the Near-Shore

Three federal agencies partnered to sample this section of the Olympic coast on June 1. Image Credit: OCNMS
Three federal agencies partnered to sample this section of the Olympic coast on June 1. Image Credit: OCNMS (click for a larger view).

Early Wednesday morning, the NOAA Ship Ronald Brown reached Station 120, within spitting distance (for a ship) of Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the continental United States. After collecting samples by starlight, the ship swung round and headed south, back towards the wild stretch of Washington coastline that is recognized for its extraordinary natural history by three federal designations – the Washington Islands National Wildlife Refuges, Olympic National Park (ONP) and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). Continue reading “Synergy in the Near-Shore”

Oxygen, that thing we all need to breathe…

OxygenWe all do it subconsciously. Breathe in… Breathe out… We probably only really notice we are doing it when we get to the top of a flight of stairs, or when we go up in altitude and realize that the oxygen availability has changed, but we all know that oxygen is critical to life. Continue reading “Oxygen, that thing we all need to breathe…”

pHretting over pH

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Acidity is measured on the pH scale. This scale can be a bit counter-intuitive, since the pH value decreases as acidity increases. Click on the image above to learn why. Credit: NOAA PMEL.

If you’ve ever measured the pH of your swimming pool, you understand that a proper pH range is important for anyone going into water. You wouldn’t want to swim in your own pool if the pH was not in a safe range for you. It is no different for the plants and animals that make their homes in the oceans. Continue reading “pHretting over pH”

Carbonate: The Building Block of Marine Life

Seashells use calcium carbonate to build their shells. Photo Credit: Melissa Ward

Next time you are walking along a beach, pay attention to how many unique types of shells you see: scallops, gastropods (snails), oysters, pteropods, and many other marine organisms rely on shells for protection and housing. Just as humans build our homes from brick and wood, these marine organisms build their homes out of a chemical compound called calcium carbonate. Continue reading “Carbonate: The Building Block of Marine Life”

Tinker, Watch, Repeat

If you’ve read the title of this post, you already have some idea of what it takes to develop and assemble a novel scientific instrument. For the past week or so, my colleague and I have been taking ordinary parts you may find in a lab—tubes, pumps, bottles, a glass cell—and assembling them carefully to achieve a greater purpose. Continue reading “Tinker, Watch, Repeat”