The Great Southern
Coccolithophore Belt Expedition
Photo by Rebecca Fowler.
On January 11, Chief Scientist Dr. Barney Balch mobilized a multi-institutional science team
on the R/V Melville and set out from Punta Arenas, Chile on a 6,924 -mile transect across the
South Atlantic. Balch and six other Bigelow staff members, including Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Ben Twining, are investigating how the increasing acidity of the ocean from burning fossil
fuels is affecting coccolithophores, one of the most abundant and important types of single-celled
phytoplankton in the world. Twining and his research team are on board to examine the effect that
trace metals in the ocean—such as iron, zinc, and colbalt—are having on coccolithophore
growth. The National Science Foundation-sponsored expedition has been timed to coincide with
the largest recurring coccolithophore bloom in the South Atlantic. At its full extent, the
bloom extends over more than 26% of the global ocean. Follow the six-week expedition at
www.greatbeltresearchcruise.com, where the Laboratory’s Education Director Rebecca Fowler
is posting regular updates and photos on a cruise blog. Teachers are encouraged to register
on the site to ask questions and connect their students with the expedition. The R/V Melville
is expected to reach Cape Town, South Africa in mid-February. News of the expedition was
featured in the January 18, 2011 issue of the Portland Press Herald.
Bigelow Senior Research Scientist Dr. Pete Countway and Research Associate Ilana Gilg are among the
co-authors of a new paper in the peer-reviewed journal Deep-Sea Research Part 1: Oceanographic
Research Papers, Volume 68, Issue 1, January 2011, pp. 16-26. Titled “Depth matters: Microbial
eukaryote diversity and community structure in the eastern North Pacific revealed through
environmental gene libraries,” the paper addresses the varying ecological roles that protists
(single-celled microorganisms with a nucleus) play in marine ecosystems and how their diversity
and community structure relate to ecosystem function. The researchers examined protistan
community structure, abundance, and diversity at six different depths at a coastal ocean site
in the San Pedro Channel, California. Co-authors include Astrid Schnetzer and David A. Caron,
University of Southern California; Stefanie D. Moorthi, University of Oldenburg, Germany; and
Rebecca J. Gast, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Bigelow Research Expedition Interns Featured in Colby Magazine
Colby College environmental science major Courtney Beaulieu ’11 (left) and University of
Maryland Research Associate Professor Victoria Coles collecting water samples in the Amazon Plume. Photo by Joaquim Goés.
The research experience of two summer interns from Colby College is part of the Colby Magazine (vol. 99, no.3) story “Oceans Away: Bigelow collaboration takes students out of the classroom and out to sea.” The story
highlights the participation of Colby students Ali Brandeis ’10 and Courtney Beaulieu ’11 as Bigelow interns on
expeditions to the Costa Rica Dome in the Eastern Pacific and the Amazon Plume in the South Atlantic.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences ...exploring the world’s oceans, from microbes to global ecosystems
The Laboratory is very pleased to announce that it has received two philanthropic
grants for its education programs. The Dorr Foundation awarded $6,700 to support the annual Keller BLOOM
high school program’s research cruise and equipment needs. A $10,000 grant from the Met Life Foundation
will be used to help fund a variety of education and outreach activities that benefit students and adults,
including a four-day professional development workshop for Maine science teachers.
REU Program Now Accepting Applications
The Laboratory is accepting applications for its National Science Foundation-sponsored
2011 Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, Gulf of Maine and the World Ocean,
to be held June 5–August 13, 2011. Undergraduates chosen for the program spend ten
weeks at the Laboratory conducting independent research with guidance from a scientist
mentor. Successful applicants will receive a stipend, housing, a food allowance, and
funds for travel to and from Bigelow Laboratory. Minorities, women, and students with
disabilities are encouraged to apply. The deadline for application is March 15, 2011.
Visit the Laboratory’s REU web page for more information and the online application.
Become a part of our discoveries. Your help is more important to us now than ever before. Thank you!