Tag Archives: grad school

Outer Island

My grad class spent today on Outer Island, which is one of the Thimble Islands.  We did a whole bunch of data collection, but I also had a chance to take lots of pictures.

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Here’s the tide pool that my group monitored throughout the day.  It reminded me of an infinity pool.

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The tide was coming in while we were there.

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The Thimble Islands are granite, and are therefore more stable than many other islands in Long Island Sound.  This pink rock is known as Stony Creek Granite.

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Outer Island is about 5 acres, and is the only Thimble Island used for research by Connecticut State Universities and Yale.

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I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of this boat sailing by us.

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Here’s our tide pool again, from a different angle. 

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Although it was a busy day, we still had some time to relax and take in the scenery.  I love this class!

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Sediment Sampling in the Sound

My “Analytical Techniques and Instrumentation” class spent today out in New Haven Harbor taking sediment samples. 

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We took a boat from the Sound School, a public/magnet high school in New Haven that has a focus on aquaculture and marine studies.

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Here’s their boat, the Sound Rover.

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Here’s part of the Sound School.  It’s built right on the water with its own pier.

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We selected sampling locations on a map of the harbor.  We tried to cover areas that we suspected to be especially contaminated, as well as areas that we hoped would be clean.  In the lab, we plan to test for iron, copper and zinc.

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One of the areas we chose to sample was under the Quinnipiac Bridge.  We expect to find contaminants here since I-95  is right above.

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We also sampled the sediments near the terminals, where petroleum and other materials are emptied from huge boats.

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Here’s an oil tanker.  Other areas we hypothesize will be contaminated are near a wastewater plant, storm drains, a marina, and a dredged area.

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Here’s lighthouse park, an area that we hope will have little contamination.  We’re also hoping the commercial oyster beds we sampled will be clean, as well as the area outside the breakwaters.

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The New Haven skyline.

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We used this ponar grab to sample the sediments at the bottom.  Metals settle out of the water into the sediments, which is why we’re not testing the water.

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Here’s one of the sediment samples that we collected.  You can see the distinct layers in it.  We had to be careful to clean everything thoroughly between sampling to avoid cross-contamination.

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Back in the lab, we prepared the samples to go into the drying oven over the long weekend.  When we return to class on Monday, we’ll begin to test for iron, zinc and copper.

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Back to School…

After three whole days of vacation last week, which were dominated by Annabelle’s new baby, I headed back to school today.  I’m taking a course in my Environmental Education program called “Analytical Techniques and Instrumentation.”  In the next two weeks, we’re going to learn how to test samples for contaminants, visit New Haven Harbor to take sediments to test for heavy metals, test our own tap water, and visit one of the Thimble Islands off the coast of Branford to study the rocky intertidal ecosystem.  In addition, we’re going to set up and maintain a salt water aquarium and monitor for a variety of different factors.  I’m excited that I’ll actually get to learn how to do all the chemical testing I’ve been reading so much about, so when I see results published in journals or in the news I’ll be able to understand them better.  Today was introductory lab stuff, practice using balances, pH meters, micro-pipets and the spectrophotometer.  It was a blast for a science dork like me.

After a busy day, I came home to see my hydrangeas wilting in the first real heat of the summer, even though I watered them this morning.  I went around to the back garden, where I left the hose this morning, and when I got there I saw a huge black snake going into a hole in my flower garden! I would estimate that it was five feet long.  I screamed for Ed and he killed it, but I have vowed to never weed in that garden again.  Now I’m off to do my homework!

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