Monday, September 10, 2012

On the Water

July 31, 2012

Today was a bit stressful for me, mixed with excitement and adrenaline. After class today, we had to pick a research project to work on. We would be working in small groups of 3, and there were 3 projects to choose from. The three projects included working with 1) limiting nutrients in the lake,  2) biofilms, 3) fish behavior/parasites. I was torn between working with fish parasites or biofilms. Both projects were very interesting, but I ended up picking fish parasites because I have worked with them before, and was more familiar with fish morphology and dissection.

After our groups were assembled, we had a trip on the limnology institutes's research vessel, where we were able to observe the various techniques used in limnological studies. One example is the secchi disk, which is a circular white disk that is lowered into the water until it is no longer visible. It is used to measure water transparency. Another thing we did was use a zooplankton net to catch some daphnia at different depths to observe the different species of daphnia and the amount of daphnia present. We observed many other different techniques, and took sediment samples of lake mud to look at the soil stratification.

The best part of being on this research vessel was not only learning and observing all these clever techniques, but also the boat ride itself. It was a sunny day, and the shadowy outline of the alps were in the distance. The fine mist from the speeding boat was refreshing on a warm day such as today.

The evening was spent wandering the streets of old Constance, browsing around all the local shops. There was a violinist playing on the street, and he was absolutely amazing. Elderly women who passed him did so with smiles on their faces as well, and every note of his music brought another smile. I couldn't believe that I was here, in Constance - surrounded by this beautiful music, cobble stone roads, and buildings so old that each one had its own story.

Constance has a charm that makes you forget about anything stressful - all it takes is a stroll through town or by the lake, and you find yourself lost in thought.

The research vessel - its larger than it looks!

The secchi disk being lowered.

Trapping water from a certain depth.

Just a view of the lake - its a very, very large lake. Visibility of the alps vary by cloudiness and clearness of the sky. Some days you can see the clearly - days like today, you can barely see them 

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