Ready, set ....
By now the whole mesocosm team has arrived on Grand Canary. The houses and apartments in the area around PLOCAN are occupied by a potpourri of highly motivated scientists, students, technicians, divers and all-rounders that are awaiting the start of the Ocean artUp study. Our little community is getting settled. Food has been bought, huge bottles of drinking water have been hauled into houses and by now everybody is used to the picturesque landscape our experiment is set in. Let the games begin.
9:07 am. Almost in time we are entering the conference room to discuss the coming months work. Teams are set, tasks are split and the covers for the mesocosms are tinkered together, looking like huge sea urchins.
Now it is time for fine-tuning. Therefore we are meeting in the different working teams today to prepare the fast-approaching start of the experiment. Which is still a way to go, but hold a minute. Some of the group leaders are missing, tightening up some other loose screws but they will arrive any moment. Is there anybody getting seasick? At least the people doing gas analysis will find an answer to that question soon as they will be working head facing down on the boats. Luckily we have plenty of pills.
Moving my head to the left my eyes skim over the buzzing harbour in front of PLOCAN and a bit beyond, the Atlantic Ocean is framed by gentle hills. But no sound gets through the windowpane. Inside the conference room there is still an atmosphere of somewhat relaxed confusion and out there on the water – I do not quite know in which direction - the “James Cook“ is taking the divers through quite rough conditions to collect deep water for our experiment. With waves up to three meters high this might become quite an adventure. Hopefully everything works fine.
By now also our meeting has set pace and the groups spread to the labs. Loads of bottles need to be labelled, equipment remains to be checked, fixed, upgraded and sometimes reorganized between teams. Where are the lab-coats? Who else is using this rack? And there are some pencils missing. Test runs are prepared and the humming of electronic devices accompanies the busy scene. Despite the best planning there are always some issues that remain and often a big portion of improvisation and re-planning is needed. Especially as we are a huge team with plenty of different physical, chemical and biological parameters that need to be puzzled together.
Also logistically: Andrea is rushing between teams, from the filtration laboratory to the zooplankton people, always carrying paper and pencil, ready to solve last issues. Every working space is customized and the whole procedure from sampling to data analysis is played through again and again to enable the smoothest possible start for the first sampling.
Assembling the mesocosm hoods in the harbour of Taliarte (photo source: Leila Kittu)