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Blogging and BLOS: The Great Belt Research Cruise
02/08/2011 | Medea Steinman, (Ocean Systems)

The R/V Melville at dock in Punta Arenas, Chile (Photo by R. Fowler)
Currently, a group of 23 scientists, led by Dr. William “Barney” Balch of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (BLOS), is sailing the South Atlantic aboard the R/V Melville. They are part of the Great Belt Research Cruise, which is carrying out the first systematic study of the Great Southern Coccolithophore Belt. Scientists are conducting this research to understand more about the species of coccolithophores (a type of phytoplankton) that make up the Great Belt, factors that affect their abundance and distribution, and the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change on coccolithophores.

You can follow the expedition from the Great Belt Research Cruise education and outreach website and the cruise blog. Rebecca Fowler, Director of Education at BLOS, has joined the cruise and has been giving us a peek into the science, the scientists, the ship, and data collected on the cruise. There’s also a map tracking the route of the Melville from the southern tip of Chile to South Africa. The site offers information about ocean science careers through interviews with two undergraduate interns, a marine chemist and a PhD researcher. That researcher, by the way, is Dr. Ben Twining who recently presented a COSEE-OS ROLE Model webinar about his studies of melting icebergs.

Rebecca and colleagues on the boat
Rebecca Fowler (center) and two colleagues on the deck of the R/V Melville (Photo by R. Fowler)
The blog is very fun to read—you never know what might happen on a given day! It talks about cruise preparation, coccolithophores, marine snow and zooplankton poo among other things (yep, that’s right, poo). There are places for readers to make comments and at least one blog is devoted to readers’ questions. You may also be wondering, “What is the Great Southern Coccolithophore Belt?” The answer is just one click away.

COSEE-OS and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Since COSEE-OS began in 2005, a number of scientists from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (BLOS) have worked with us in education and outreach efforts. They have participated in COSEE-OS workshops and webinars, and now, in our second phase of work, Bigelow is continuing this partnership. Please join us for our next ROLE Model Webinar Series, which will feature Dr. Rick Wahle (formerly of Bigelow, and now based at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center) and Dr. David Fields of Bigelow Lab.

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