BBMO — Blanes Bay Microbial Observatory
May 25th 2010
In 2008 I spent three months working at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Barcelona, hosted by Beatriz Diez in the Marine Microbiology group, headed by Carles Pedrós-Alió. One of the many microbial research projects at ICM is focused on environmental monitoring of marine microbes in Blanes Bay, in the North Western Mediterranean. At the Blanes Bay Microbial Observatory scientists from ICM/CSIC in Barcelona are exploring the role of planktonic viruses, bacteria, archaea and microbial eukaryotes in the marine environment. Sampling is done monthly and oceanographic as well as microbial data is obtained routinely, including temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, inorganic and organic nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and light penetration. Blanes Bay is an example of an oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) coastal ecosystem, virtually unaffected by human and terrestrial influences. The sampling site has a good historical dataset, with records dating back to the 1950's.
Our first visit to Blanes with Sorcerer II was in November 2009 when we sampled three stations along a transect, starting with the BBMO site. I remember that the wind was strong when we left Barcelona that day and it was a bumpy ride up to Blanes Bay, we could feel that it was the end of the sampling season in the Med.
Chris Dupont had flown in from San Diego for the two week sampling trip, which besides the Blanes transect also included sites around Mallorca and off the south-east coast of Spain. Joining us for the transect sampling was also Elisabet, a lab technician from ICM, who came along to collect some extra samples for our Spanish collaborators.
When we reached Blanes another group of scientists from ICM joined us for the day sampling at BBMO. Dr. Josep Gasol, Dr. Dolors Vaqué and Dr. Bea Diez shared their expertise from sampling at BBMO and helped out during the day.
Since one of the interesting aspects of the time series in Blanes is the seasonal variation in phytoplankton abundance, with different species dominating at different times of the year, our collaborators suggested that if we would have the opportunity it would be interesting to sample BBMO again at the beginning of the sampling season in 2010. Luckily our schedule and permits for this year enables us to start off the season by collecting a spring time sample at BBMO.
Tomorrow we head back to Blanes Bay to collect another set of samples from this long-term microbial monitoring station.
Stay tuned for more details on tomorrows sampling together with our Spanish collaborators.