The trip departed March 26th aboard the Undersea Hunter. In order to facilitate the trip, the Undersea Hunter was outfitted with a portable weather station, lab, and additional equipment used for taking samples. The vessel traveled to various longitudinal and latitudinal locations taking water samples with special instruments (as seen in the photos below). Researchers hope to analyze the numbers to assess climate change over time. They will also look at the physical and chemical composition of the ocean and atmosphere and how it impacts life at Cocos.
The expedition is a continuation of research that has been going on over the past couple of years. Scientists collected information about the composition of the Island's water. Specifically, they are trying to learn more about the physico-chemical parameters of the waters around the Islands; from the surface to 400 m / 1,312 ft. To do this, they brought along different tools to measure: temperature, salinity, density, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll and turbidity. While this was tested, they also checked currents, water movements, and plankton levels.
Current Findings: what was sampled and how
During the trip, samples were collected from seawater through a 5-L Niskin bottle, at 21 sites in the surface layer (1-5 m) and a constant depth of 70 m.
51 measurements were made of salinity, oxygen, and temperature
60 samples to determine concentration of chlorophyll
60 samples to establish the concentration of materials in suspension
51 fractions of about 1000 ml of filtered seawater to check for the concentration of nutrients, phosphate, silicate, nitrate and nitrite.
14 samples were collected at 1m water depth to check for oil pollution.
Phytoplankton and Zoo-plankton:
35 hydro-graphic stations, for the capture of phytoplankton and zoo-plankton with nets of 200 microns and 500 microns pore.
Working with Cocos Island National Park
In addition to all the samples that were taken aboard the vessel, researchers also visited the island and gave a couple presentations to the rangers and officials at Cocos Island National Park.
The first was was given by Dr. Genaro Acuna, Dr. Eric Alfaro and Dr. Omar Lizano on the "ocean-atmosphere interactions and marine biodiversity of Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica".
The second, was made by Dr. Lizano on tsunamis in the Pacific. This raised a discussion on the evacuation procedures in the event a tsunami hit Cocos, as well as the effect such an event would have on the Island.