What do oceanographers do? They filter sea water

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) , an oceanographer studies the ocean.  Some oceanographers study whales, sharks, fish and other large creatures, but we focus our research on microscopic life forms – phytoplankton and viruses. In order to collect enough of those tiny creatures, we need to concentrate large numbers of them in smaller volulme. We do this by filtering. We run a lot of sea water through filters that have very small pores and collect the tiny organisms that remain on the filters for analysis. When I say small pore size, I mean really small. We use a pore size of 1.2uM to collect phytoplankton cells. 1.2uM is 1.2/1,000,000 of a meter (or 0.00005 of an inch)* and 15 times smaller than the width of a thin human hair!  For other samples, such as viruses and non-living particles, we use an even smaller pore size – down to 0.02uM (those are the Anotop filters listed below). We will use thousands of filters to collect different samples while in Espegrend.


Filters we shipped to the station for the project.










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Thanks to Sandra Lanman for her help with editing this post.



Espegrend – here we come!

NORWAY 2008 010

Espegrend, sometimes also called Espeland, is a Norwegian marine biological station. run by University of Bergen, Norway.  It is located about 20km south of Bergen.

Espeland has a number of specialized facilities and internationally well-known for is mesocosm facility.

From May 8 to June 2, 2017 a group of scientists (that’s us) will be at the station to study the interaction of the globally important phytoplankton Emiliania huxleyi (E. hux) with the viruses that infect and kill E. hux cells.  Read more about why and how we plan to to study this here.

We will post regular updates here  and we invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter

To see photos taken during a mesocosm experiment in 2008 in Espeland – click here.