In survival situations people often talk about the rule of three. It is said that humans can only survive for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without heat, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Not wanting to be left out, it seems that some phytoplankton also obey a rule of 3 according to a new study: they can survive for 3 weeks without key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Think of an extreme environment where life survives in the ocean. What springs to mind? The mind boggling pressures and eerie quiet of the deep-sea perhaps? Maybe the icy environments at the poles? Possibly even an estuary, where organisms are flung from one salinity extreme to the other on a daily basis. There is another extreme environment though, one which few of you probably even considered, one that covers about 30% of the planet and is currently expanding under the influence of climate change: large swirling systems of rotating currents that occur in the centre of oceans known as subtropical gyres. Continue reading Ocean Deserts: it’s a hard life in the tropics, but not if you’re small
Out of all the interesting methodologies I have encountered in the first 18 months of my PhD, electron microscopy is indisputably the coolest, most gratifying, and enjoyable. I’m one of those people that loves whatever I’m doing in the moment, as I’m sure my office-mates could attest to. I often come back from trying something new full of enthusiasm and motivation, but that adoration usually dies down after a few days crunching numbers; I end up sitting at my desk pouting over new literature and troubleshooting the protocol. This hasn’t happened with electron microscopy. It has remained steadfast at the front of the pack in the race for my geeky little heart (yes, I actually rank my protocols…don’t we all?), and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. Continue reading Electron Microscopy: plankton biologist discovers new toy
…I wish that what I did sounded a bit less interesting.
Let me explain: I really do love what I do, but what I dread more than anything else is telling ‘non marine biologists’ about it. You see, there are (generally) only two responses that you get when you tell someone that you are a marine biologist:
1) “So what the hell are you going to do with that?” often accompanied by a look of bemusement suggesting that you are currently in the process of throwing your life away
Or, and I think this is actually worse…
2) “Wow, so do you get to work with (swim with) sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles (etc.) then?”