I have to admit: My interest in zooplankton was not particularly strong until I arrived to Gran Canaria for this campaign.
Because of the specific objectives of the Ocean artUp project, the effort in studying the zooplankton community and its role in ecosystem functioning is greater this year than it was in previous KOSMOS studies, and so we are several people working on that in many different ways…
My task during KOSMOS-GC2018 is to run the Zooscan and the subsequent image analysis software. I am trying to deal with this “fancy” scanner and achieve the best information possible. To be honest, the resolution will never be as good as when using a microscope or a high-magnification camera system. However, the huge data output providing information of each detected particle/organism gives us an enormous potential to determine the community size distribution and infer on the food web structure.
All day long the work is super exciting, since everyone is looking at the same community but with different approaches. We don’t get tired to call each other when finding something new or unexpected: the whole lab can get quite excited about it. Even after sitting in front of the microscope or the computer for many hours, we don’t stop jumping off our seats to peek into each others samples!
With my friend Nicolas I am staying until late at night going through the data collected during the day and appreciating the structures and colours of the different zooplankton groups. I would never have thought how impressive they can be! It makes such a difference looking at live plankton samples rather than the preserved samples I was used to. What a great experience!