Hunting for Harmful Algal Blooms (Video)

Max Hermanson ·
25 October 2019
Learning Science | 

Over the summer I had the good fortune of accompanying Judy O'Neil and a score of other scientists on a two-day research cruise off the coast of Ocean City and Assateague Island. The purpose of the cruise was to gather data on offshore harmful algal blooms (HABs), whose appearances are becoming more frequent with increasing global temperatures and excess nutrient runoff.

The cruise took place on the 81-ft research vessel, the Rachel Carson, which was built by the University of Maryland specifically for coastal-water research. Data were collected by lowering a rosette equipped with nine Niskin Bottles and a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth measuring device) into the ocean and collecting water from the surface, benthos, and anywhere where a significant spike in chlorophyll a was detected. These water samples were immediately processed in an onboard laboratory while the vessel moved onto the next sampling site.

The main reason I came on the research cruise was to help with data collection, but I managed to shoot some footage of the activities on the boat with my Nikon D3300 in between duties. Following the cruise, I decided to try and put together a video from the limited footage. I tried to capture my sense of awe at how cool and epic I thought the research we were doing was, and I modeled the rosette-lowering in my video edits after the rocket launch from Apollo 13. The video can be seen above. Please note that it is a dramatization of the actual research that occurred.

Me, taking water out of a Niskin bottle for laboratory analysis.
Judy O'Neil (top left) and other scientists on the cruise.
Photo by Max Hermanson
The Rachel Carson docked at Ocean City.
Photo by Max Hermanson

About the author

Max Hermanson

Max is a graduate of SUNY ESF, where he majored in Environmental and Forest Biology. Max will be using a variety of communication medium as he assists Senior Science Communicators and Integrators. In his free time he enjoys maintaining terrariums and aquariums, playing chess and Settlers of Cataan, and is hoping his new location will facilitate picking up sailing again.

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