Tomorrow we leave the lab and head out for our last trip to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The weather looks good, there are no tropical cyclones brewing and we are ready to see what awaits us along the Gulf shores. I am curious to see how the beaches have changed since last time, if there are still tar balls washing ashore and if there are any new sites to find. I am interested in both the differences and the similarities between our sites and samples.
Pat has analyzed 40 tar balls thus far looking at the polar and non-polar constituents. It’s an impressive number although we still have 100 or so in jars and more to bring back. There is much work to be done and Pat is still cranking away in front of the computer as I write this. The numbers of samples, spectra and chromatograms can get a little overwhelming and we plan on spending some time synthesizing the data when we return. The rest of the lab is busily translating nucleotide sequences isolated from Gulf of Mexico sediments into proteins (Liz) and developing the best protocol to separate and quantify every possible lipid and hydrocarbon in deep-water corals (Katie). But all 4 of us are ready to leave the lab behind for a few days and venture out in the sun, sea and sand.
This afternoon we enjoyed some frozen yogurt and discussed trip 3 and what our expectations are in terms of samples and sites, hours of sleep, miles to drive and how many bottles of sunblock to bring. Answers to all of this will be revealed in the next few days. Until then, this is how we like our frozen yogurt. (blue spoon – Pat, pink spoon – Helen, yellow spoon – Liz, purple spoon – Katie).