A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.
Hi my name is Melissa Rohal I am a PhD Candidate at Texas A&M Corpus Christi working under Dr. Paul Montagna in the Coastal and Marine System Science Program. My research focuses on the role and value of microscopic animals that live on or in the sediment. While on the cruise my task was to collect sections of mud from sediment cores for later processing in the lab.
We had a marathon coring day on August 8th, with a total 9 drops of the sediment corer. In general, it took about an hour for the multiple corer to reach the sea floor. This is because the majority of our sample stations were deeper than 1000m. Once the sediment corer returned to the surface each individual core was cut into centimeter sections (0-1, 1-3, 3-5, and 5-10) and preserved in formalin dyed pink. A pink dye is used so that the animals are easier to locate under a microscope.
While working we had a brief but heavy rain shower but we all needed it because when working with mud its impossible to stay clean. Often if you somehow managed to stay mud free a friendly lab mate would make sure you did not walk way that way. Regardless of already being muddy I received quite a few free mud facials and free t-shirt decoration with muddy hand prints. We even managed to convert a few of the fish team to the mudding side. I caught them making mud smiling faces in the leftover mud. Not to mention enjoying throwing stray mud chunks over the side.