|Small sketches of some of the plankton observed in our collected samples.|
Natural levels of phytoplankton populations keep the ocean healthy and conducive to biodiversity. However, when pollutants and excess chemicals find their way into the water, the excess of nutrients prompt the phytoplankton populations to explode and to aggrandize primary productivity of the system. This process, known as eutrophication, alters the normal balance of the ecosystem. When the phytoplankton die, their decomposition depletes dissolved oxygen in the water. The surplus of phytoplankton decomposition against normal levels can result in hypoxia, where the lowered dissolved oxygen level negatively affects the aquatic ecosystem.
Earlier in the week we had again gone out for a research cruise in Bellingham Bay, an area experiencing seasonal hypoxia. We sampled nine different stations, getting an early insight to the seasonal hypoxia occurring in the bay,. In addition to water profiling, chlorophyll and nutrient samples, and turbidity measurements, we added several plankton tows to supplement the investigation of the phytoplanktons' relationship to these observed phenomena.
|Raising the tow after plankton collection at a depth of 10 meters.|