After almost three weeks of maintenance, the SPC system is back on the pier! The housings got a fresh coat of tape, the end-caps were cleared of barnacles, and the ports have new anti-biofouling wipers. As soon as the cameras were turned on, they started capturing loads of images of diatom chains. Hopefully the new wipers will keep the samples coming at full capacity with minimal service requirements.
The SPC has been out of the water for the past two weeks for cleaning and maintenance. We are in the process of outfitting the cameras with a new anti-biofouling system to keep the ports clear. If it works out, it will reduce the need for manual cleaning by our dive team. The instruments are set to go back in the water next week. Stay tuned!
The cameras were cleaned today after a delay of a week due to weather and swell conditions. The SPCP2 camera was highly fouled compared to the SPC2 camera. In the next few weeks we’ll install wipers and do an extensive cleaning operation.
The power to the camera system went down over the holidays and was reset this week. The cameras were cleaned today and will soon have wipers installed to hopefully improve the image quality and consistency.
Both cameras are back on line now.
Over the past month, the SPCP has been a dinner guest for a Protoperidinium feast! These small dinoflagellates have some fascinating table manners. Rather than ingesting their prey, they eat their food extracellularly. A hungry Protoperidinium will chemically sense a near-by cell and envelop it in a sticky sheet called a pallium or feeding veil. Once the prey is captured, the Protoperidinium secretes a digestive enzyme into the sac. The predator breaks down the innards of the prey and ingests the bits. Finally, the Protoperidinium retracts the veil, leaving behind any material it could not digest. In lab studies, the whole process takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the prey (though one observed feeding took nearly two hours). According to a 1984 study by Gaines and Taylor, Protoperidinium can capture cells up to 10 times its’ diameter! That would be kind of like seeing a 6 foot tall man eating a 60 foot long burrito.
This image was captured by the SPCP on Friday September 16th at about 5 PM Pacific time. The Protoperidinium is the diamond shaped cell toward the bottom left. Notice the feeding veil extending to the prey cell. Check out the gallery for more images!
There is a nice bloom of green phytoplankton off the pier now (it started last week). The mosaic below shows the relative abundance of the green cells compared to others.
These cells are also aggregating on some of the larger marine snow globs as shown in the images from the SPC2 below. Note the small green dots covering parts of the otherwise white and brown aggregates.
Eric and Paul did a lengthy camera cleaning yesterday and made a nice video of the process. Below is the video sped up by a factor of 4x.