Bering Sea Ecosystem
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Coring in the Wind

A lot of the action in the Bering Sea ecosystem happens down on the bottom. When algae, zooplankton, walruses, or other things die, they fall down and are recycled by organisms that live in the mud. The sediment isn’t that far away most of the time – many of our sampling stations are in 70 meters (230 feet) of water or less. But it’s still too far to reach with a stick. So scientists send instruments over the side to collect mud and bring it onto the ship.

Benthic ecologist David Shull, from Western Washington University, uses the multicorer to bring up eight cylindrical samples from the bottom at a time – and he sends it down at least twice in a row. We followed his team today as they took the sediment cores from there, running through various tests and experiments, drying some samples and freezing others so they can work with them later. It got confusing. I tried to get Shull to tell me how many things they do with the cores, but all he could come up with was, “A lot.”

Read on about our adventure in the slideshow below. Can't see the slideshow? Get the Flash plug in »

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