Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Ocean Life, Planet Health

Jan 2011 eNews

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Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
January 20, 2011

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, 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.

Depth Matters

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


Campus Construction: Frequently Asked Questions

Photo by Marty Getrich.

If you’ve been following our Ocean Campus Construction Blog, you’ll already know that neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow has deterred the valiant crew working on the East Boothbay site. The December 23, 2010 Boothbay Register featured an update about construction on the site, and we’ve just posted a Frequently Asked Questions (with Answers) page about the new campus with more information about the project and our plans. Let us know if you have other questions. We’re happy to keep you in the loop.

New Support for Ocean Science Education

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.

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