Research activity

Snapshot 4…with bad weather and Santas

Simona Retelletti, 18 April 2021

As if there was not enough on our hands, with Christmas so close, we are getting ready for the fourth Snapshot sampling cruise. The beginning is already more difficult than the previous ones: in December is cold, days are shorter, and the sea gets rough. But when the going gets tough, the tough…change the sampling plan! What we used to do in two days, now is planned for three days.

When the going gets tough, La! DOM starts playing

The CIBM boat is not made to stand rough sea so we have to postpone the sampling date, because of both the rough sea the river flood, one day after another. Everything tries to intimidate us, but it’s needed much more than that to discourage us! On December 15th we are finally able to begin the sampling, which will continue on the 16th and the 21st, a few more days of delay and we would have sampled with Santa.

Valter prepares the filtration systems for chlorophyll

Day 1 and 2: everything works perfectly

Luckily, this is the fourth sampling cruise so we are much more prepared. On the first day everything is ready in the lab, while the sampling team is still getting the first samples. DOM filters are washed, bottles are labeled, POC filters are weighted, and the instruments are warming up. This time all people are present and a new member joined us: Nunzia, a marine biology student who, after months of bureaucratic issues (new covid rules) was finally able to begin her research thesis work with us. She didn’t know was she was getting herself into! If she’ll want to continue working with us after a Snapshot cruise, she’s the one!

Nunzia is measuring the fluorescence of a freshly collected and filtered sample

The first two days go smoothly, we are so well trained that we can relax and have some fun with Santa’s hats, even though people in the corridors look at us as if we were crazy, but maybe we are! During the day, Chiara walks around threatening us with the phone in her hands, making videos of us working, and making us “spontaneously” describing what we are doing. Actually, from these videos, we are making a mini-series on the lab work that we’ll publish in episodes on our Facebook and Instagram profiles. At the end of the two days, we are able to finish everything that needed to be done and more, and we are also able to get back home for dinner!

Simona is filtering the samples for DOC and CDOM measurements

Day 3: change of planes, but we made it!

Things get more difficult on the third, and last, sampling day, which was already postponed due to the weather. Also, the newest government covid rules ensure that I and Nunzia aren’t there, we have to get out of the region until it is allowed if we want to spend Christmas with our families outside of Tuscany. And last but not least, there are some problems because there is only one person available for sampling. Chiara decides to be onboard to help with the sampling, but this means that another person is missing from the lab. At this time Elisa, an experienced researcher, was called to help us with the filtrations.

Elisa struggling with the filtrations for particulate organic carbon and Chlorophyll

From now on my story is based on what I was told afterward and on Whatsapp messages since I was already filling my belly with Christmas sweets. Stories narrate about very detailed instructions attached on the lab walls, all followed into the smallest detail, about Chiara frozen on the boat while sampling, and about happy endings, even though this time no one made it home for dinner!

Stefano ready for the DOC measurements on the samples taken and just filtered

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