Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tiny Giants: Technology, Science and Art Mingle in Celebration of Marine Microbes

MEDIA RELEASE — On the evening of Thursday, January 15, a team of scientists from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the New England Aquarium gathered at the popular new District Hall in Boston’s Innovation District. They were celebrating the technological and scientific achievement of a gallery of photos that captured microscopic marine microbes that are invisible to the naked eye.

Chain-forming diatoms from the genus Thalassiosira often initiate the early spring phytoplankton bloom. These diatoms provide an important source of nutrition to the base of marine food webs just as larval fish are looking for their first meal. Credit: Laura Lubelczyk, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences with funding provided by NASA

Called “Tiny Giants: Marine microbes revealed on a grand scale,” the photographic art exhibit illuminated the intricate details of microscopic creatures that are vital to the oxygen we breathe, the food chain essential from fish to whales to humans, and that mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.

Phytoplankton are microscopic plant-like organisms at the base of marine food webs. Floating at or near
the surface of the sunlit ocean, phytoplankton display thousands of morphological variations.
A single tablespoon of seawater contains hundreds of thousands of these single-celled organisms.
Credit: Dr. Peter Countway, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
with funding provided by the National Science Foundation  

The photos were taken by scientists at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science in East Boothbay, Maine. To understand the microbes’ significance, presentations were made by Dr. Graham Shimmield, Bigelow Laboratory’s Executive Director, and Dr. Nigella Hillgarth, the Aquarium’s CEO and President.

Emiliania huxleyi or ‘E. hux.’ for short is a marine algal species that makes plates
or liths out of calcium carbonate, which are particularly sensitive to ocean acidification.
Bigelow Laboratory scientists are currently working to understand how acidified oceans
of the future will affect these vitally important phytoplankton. Credit: Credit: Laura Lubelczyk,
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences with funding provided by NASA

Guests shared dinner and a glass of wine with Bigelow Laboratory and Aquarium scientists including: Bigelow Laboratory’s Dr. Pete Countway, a microbial ecologist, who took many of the photographs; Dr. David Emerson, an iron-oxidizing bacteria expert; Dr. Paty Matrai, an expert on atmospheric and ocean conditions in the Arctic Ocean; and Dr. Benjamin Twining, a senior research scientist and director of education and research at the Laboratory. From the Aquarium: Dr. Scott Kraus, vice president of research; Dr. John Mandelman, director of research and a senior scientist; Dr. Kathleen Hunt, an expert in marine wildlife stress; and Dr. Randi Rotjan, a coral reef and hermit crab researcher.

See more stunning photos of marine microbes and learn how each one is important to our blue planet, see this PDF of the event's program.

1 comment:

Leave your comments here.