In the past couple of weeks we’ve successfully collected live benthic foraminifera. A feat not to be minimized. We carefully scrape the surface of gooey mud, fighting not to sink beyond our knees, hoping that we might be picking up some forams. Then we load a small sample into a fine sieve to isolate foram-sized material, and finally look at it under a microscope. With some luck, we managed to isolate a few forams, load them into tiny syringes, and collect oxygen consumption data.
I left the invertebrate zoology course on a similarly high note. Eric, Leanne and I spent a long time squinting at the elytra of scale worms trying to differentiate one species from another. The elytra are the “scales” on the worms and their texture is key in identification. It sounds like a slog to identify, and it is. But it was also very rewarding to delve into the minutiae of a specific branch of the tree of life. And, as always, Eric found time to show me around some of the remarkable specimens in the collection.
I ended my summer on a geology field trip unrelated to my summer internship, but also focusing on marine micro-organisms. My wonderful roommate managed to snag me a spot on a trip to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest territories. We saw two billion-year-old stromatolites, ate tons of fish, and drank water straight from the lake without contracting giardia. In other words, it was a dream of a trip. And a very educational summer.