Patience, intelligence, creativity, curiosity and reasoning are all qualities needed of good scientists. Team play is however one skill which is largely under-rated. More than ever, success in any scientific discipline requires teamwork and both national and international cooperation. The EMBC+ Spring School at Tjärnö aims to develop all the traits of the ‘good-scientist’. To emphasise the importance of team play during this 10-day experience, an after-lunch speed lecture was replaced by a game that tested the students’ collaborative skills. The Great Egg Drop tasked student to build, in just15 minutes, an egg package that could sustain a 4m drop; using only a piece of cardboard, 3 straws, 1 napkin, a piece of rope, a plastic bag, scissors, and one tip: “Work together and be inventive!” Their collaborative skills seemed to be developing well; 4 out of 6 teams managed to drop their eggs without even the slightest crack in the shell.
Broken or not, we hope that this small interlude inspired the students towards greater collaboration in the final run up to the submission of their project reports. In the end, isn’t harmony still one of the cornerstones of victory?
You may think that marine science is all about having fun, enjoying the ocean, supporting moral wilderness and hugging whales. Well, let me tell you that science also includes panic, anxiousness, frustration and huge amount of stress.
Our hermit crabs were driving us into gigantic proportions of mental illness. The experiments weren’t what we have been expecting and we had to withdraw the original plan. The 6 integrant of the group had to gather together to start planning again from the beginning. We came up with a new idea in less than 1 hour and our supervisors seem to like it. We made new samplings, and yes, obviously, we got symptoms of hypothermia. (Don’t worry mom… I’m warm and fat). All of the failure described, was 2 days ago.
We found now beyond the middle of the spring school. The exhaustion is present in most of the 60 people related to the scientific event, but what set us apart from the rest, is our motivation… a motivation buried six feet under. Nevertheless, we managed to get our happiness back to the game.
A new planning… a new title. A new project. After touching the bottom of the “whole of failure”, we came up with a new work plan. The stress was the key, and the good thing is that the humans and Malacostracas (crustaceans) were sharing the same amount. The roller coaster of feelings was going to the top.
The sloping downs were left behind, and we are now approaching to the our goal: Getting down from the scientific train cars.
Yesterday was a really nice Monday… in the morning we started our data treatment and report writing and in the afternoon we went for a beautiful excursion to the Kosterhavet national park. There, we visited the Naturum, an information and visitor center, before we left to explore the island… just to enjoy the nature 🙂
Luckily, we had perfect weather for that trip: sunshine and just a few clouds!
Today our data decided to drive us crazy… I am not kidding… really…
So many time and size measurements that waited to be sorted and analysed, the sunshine was no help 😦 So we treated our data and got a bit lost but thank you, Roisin, for helping and motivating us to keep on going!
And it’s not just the data! Afterwards, the report wants to bewritten and thedocumentary is also waiting for us. So we have a lot of things on our minds at the moment but we try to stay calm… but the beautiful sunshine which just smiles through the window is like a kick in our asses to finish and get out of the lab! Looking forward to tomorrow evening, when at least the report is gone to our teachers and not longer a pest in our minds!
Wohooooooooooooo, finally we finished with the experiments!!! Last “Ahora” was heard yesterday in the morning. Kind of sad! 😦 But the other groups working in the lab will be happy not to hear us anymore! Besides the exhausting work it was lots of fun to run around with pipettes and the greeny phytoplankton and our rainbow particles! Yeah, we were a bit “locos” (crazy).
All the boring work comes right now….writing, writing, writing….we are so super tired! However, it needs to be done. It would have been a perfect day outside; sun is shining to its highest level. Yesterday afternoon we were extremely lucky to get on a boat trip around the fjords and in a great weather! Of course, our mood was lifted up a lot! You could have seen the smiles on everyone’s faces…full satisfaction, with a beautiful view on fjords and surrounding. The nature around looked so unspoiled, for that moment we could realize in what a special place we appear to be.
But now back to our research work! The task is to gather all the motivation to write up our report, work on the results, make a movie and the final presentation. So many things to do!!! We are about to break our computers! Yep, the frustration came to us today, hahahaha. However we are ready to cope with that.
The workload has been split and we are hoping to make the progress today and tomorrow. There’s no way out of this, the deadline is tomorrow! Maybe we will have to face a sleepless night, who knows…
Monday morning is never easy, even those in the fjords aren’t immune. A rather estranged relationship developed between Peter and his computer. R was not his friend today. Thankfully Mirta, our resident stats (and part-time crazy) lady, helped to restore the severed relationship. Peter and his computer united once again!
Our stats team have analysed our data from all angles!
The rest of the team have been diligently and carefully staring at hundreds of photos on their computers screens looking for… Wally?
No! Mrs. Seastar and Mr. Crab.
Luckily, pre-lunch Kinder Bueno deliveries (thanks, Floorian!) kept morale high all around and music (thanks, Neus!) made computer work more endurable.
Here’s the song that reminds us of our outdoor work:
Tell me where the native oysters went
And that we are not getting the last ones left
Just don’t let me fall asleep
if our bucket is empty of them
Cause I fear I might fall
and this suit makes me so fat I can’t get up
Tonight I’ll dream about crabs
I can feel the pressure
It’s getting closer in the fjord
Oh damn my wader has a hole
I can feel the pressure
It’s getting closer in the fjord
Oh damn my wader has a hole
Today is sunday, and even for very enthusiastic marine biology students this is a resting day. So we worked in the morning with the software, that finally cooperated since yesterday, and the long awaited sonar-map is beginning to take shape. We did find out however that we will have to get back out to do additional mapping, apparently our steering capabilities (or those of the teachers) are not as good as we thought.
But after lunch the best part of the day began: we had a day off!! We went out separately and apparently everybody had the same magnificent idea: we went hiking on the beautiful island of Saltö that lays next to ours. It proved once again that our location cannot be better: big cliffs and gorgeous forrest. To make you jealous we included some pictures.
Until next time
As pirates, we spend a large part of our time looking for new treasures to join our endless and priceless collection! Our problem is where to store all our luxuries and secrets.
Apparently there is an amazing way to solve our problem!
A common inhabitant of intertidal is one species with a weird name that even for a pirate is hard to pronounce – Nereis diversicolor. It is a slim, fast and viscous polychaete worm.
Species like this plough through the sediment and therefore transport oxygen to the deeper layers. This mixing process is called bioturbation and can be very important for the establishment of benthic communities as well as contributing to the input of organic matter in the water column.
But back to the starting point, how does this help us to solve our quest? If we understand the digging behaviour we probably will be able to apply this to our problem. Savvy?
Therefore, we did set up an experiment using layers of oxic and anoxic sediment with different heights. After an arduous time hunting for worms in the frigid waters of Tjärnö we are still alive thanks to our hot coffee and eastern tea and the sticky beings were added in different densities to the different aquariums.
We are still awaiting the results. Maybe we will let you know more of our adventures … or maybe not ;-D
Sunday in Tjärnö is not so busy like other days. We decided to run just one experiment in the morning and take the afternoon off.
We needed some time in the sun to clear our minds and to decide what we are going to do the next few days. Not a lot of time left before we have to finish everything here and leave this beautiful landscape.
So after lunch we started on a slow walk to our neighbour island Saltö… there was a cute path which was calling for us… so we followed and discovered how gorgeous this area really is.
At a nice spot we decided to settle down to make a plan for our last 3 days and especially how our documentary should be (stay tuned for more info on it). That took just 3 hours and we didn’t finished 😉
After Dinner Caren went for another walk through the wilderness of Tjärnö with two members of Team 1 (Mathilde and Naomi)… just one word: AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! We climbed over rocks, moose, trees, saw two deers (really not (!) expected) and had a really nice walk back to the station. In the middle we got a bit lost, but following the sun was our rescue. And right to sunset we reached the station again 🙂 Thank you Mathilde and Naomi for this beautiful two hour walk in the evening! :-*