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NorBOL and BOLDsystems course Trondheim 17th-19th of October

Travelogue from Cessa Rauch

Today the weekly event of MolluscMonday and the annual SeaSlugDay (29th of October) coincide!Bunch of sea slugs to celebrate sea slug day, collected in Askøy

What better way to celebrate it with another blog! Much has happened again since the last blog in August, in which we went on fieldwork in Askøy by joining the ladies of the jentedykketreff to find sea slug species in the Bergen area. We officially started to barcode our first specimens, got two new master students that will also work on the project by looking into a variety of topics (diversity of sea slugs in Hordaland, population genetics of Polycera quadrilineata and taxonomy of the genus Eubranchus).

In this blog I will share with you how we are uploading our slugs to the World Wide Web with help of the Barcode of Life data system and how the Norwegian Barcode of Life is helping us getting this done by organizing an informative course in Trondheim.

First step in trying to decode our precious species
The sea slugs of Southern Norway project is a two-year project funded by Artsdatabanken (The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative) with the aim of mapping the biodiversity of sea slugs along the Southern part of the Norwegian coast

Sea slugs of Southern Norway being eaten by Doris pseudoargus

The focal area stretches from Bergen, Hordaland, all the way down to the Swedish border. In May, July and August of this year the project successfully completed its first fieldwork trips with an additional of 500 new registered museum specimens that cover roughly 90 sea slug species. The species names are attributed based on morphological characteristics, but several species exhibit amazing colour polymorphism, possibly hiding cryptic diversity.

Moreover, we cannot discard the possible occurrence of alien species with similar morphotypes to the native fauna. Therefore, we will need to DNA barcode our specimens to either confirm or change the species names credited to our collected specimens. Besides it will give us an overview for the relatedness of the sea slugs to one another and unravel maybe new species!

In order to successfully sequence 500+ specimen the project collaborates with the Norwegian Barcode of Life project (NorBOL). NorBOL is a network of Norwegian biodiversity institutions and individual scientists that coordinates the establishment of a library of DNA sequences (barcodes) of the fauna and flora of Norway. These barcodes)will be submitted to the open access database BOLD (Barcode of Life Data System), as part of the global Barcode of Life initiative and the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL).

Barcode of Life Data System course
Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) is a globally orientated online workbench and database that supports the assembly and use of DNA barcode data, and is open access to the scientific community and public. At the moment it holds a record of 6235000 barcodes; 194000 of those are animal species, 67000 plant species and 21000 fungi and other species. The BOLD system is an amazing tool to work with for those interested in biodiversity research. Initially it can be a little overwhelming to fill in all available data into Excel file after Excel file, as this is mandatory and needs to be uploaded first to the system before any sequencing can be done. Especially for those who have many specimens to work with. But afterwards the reward is very fulfilling as you, in an instant, can see distribution maps, trees and images of all the specimens uploaded.

Distribution map from Google earth with collected sea slugs from the Oslo area

Image library of all the collected sea slugs

It is the perfect tool for digitizing, analysing, storing and accessing your genetic and image library data from everywhere anytime. BOLD system standards for uploading actual specimen data are pretty high, the quality of what you can find on the platform is good, but in order to keep these standards great, NorBOL organizes special multi day courses for users in order to guide them through all the steps and features of the BOLD system. This year the course was organized by the NorBOL National coordinator NTNU in Trondheim.

It would take three full days of getting together with fellow participants and going through all the steps necessary in order to start a successful project in the BOLD platform. This year it took place from 17th till 19th of October and as such, me, Anna and Per travelled that Wednesday the 17th very early in the morning to Trondheim. The course was well attended with participants traveling from all over Norway and even from its neighbouring country Sweden. The first day consisted mainly of introduction talks and familiarizing ourselves with the many new abbreviations; NorBOL, BOLD, iBOL (et cetera).

It was a nice experience to meet and talk to other biologists working on such interesting topics, varying from flies, mites, sponges, jellyfish, worms, variety of plants, etc. Everything was taken care off, we could check in to our hotels and in the evening, we had a dinner together with the organizers and participants. The next two course days we were asked to work with our own brought specimens. The days consisted of registering the specimens, filling in as much data per specimens as possible. After finishing and uploading the first datasets, it was time to make pictures of every species, before sampling them for DNA barcoding tissue. Almost all participants brought a 96 wells plate worth of specimens so you can imagine the work that was put into getting everything finished in such a short amount of time.

Sea slug tissue in a 96 well plate ready to be shipped for barcoding

The course was an excellent way to get used to the different steps necessary in order to make the submission process a success. And it was very helpful that at any given moment we could ask the course organizers for advice during the preparations of the datasets and the submission.

All the participants were very excited about the course and happy they attended, it was nice meeting new people and as for someone that moved to Norway, a good opportunity to finally also see Trondheim, with its amazing large Cathedral, a real eyecatcher

 

 

Sea slug goals
The goal for the sea slugs of Southern Norway project is to barcode all, or at least as much as possible, collected specimen, in order to attribute species names to them, expose cryptic species, maybe find new species and look out for invasive and or alien species. Thanks to this course the first 95 species will be barcoded soon and be added to the image library that we already managed to set up (Image 8. Screenshot of the project page of sea slugs of Southern Norway in the BOLD system workbench).

Screenshot of the project page of sea slugs of Southern Norway in the BOLD system workbench

We are very much looking forward for the first results to be accessible and to analyse the data; keep an eye on the invertebrate blogs because for sure the follow up of this story is going to be pretty exciting.

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Aina Mærk Aspaas for the coordination of the course, Katrine Kongshavn to help out with my first introduction to NorBOL and the BOLD system workbench and Anna Beata Seniczak and Per Djursvoll for being great colleagues during the course and lovely companions in discovering Trondheim together as real Bergen tourists!

 

Furthermore
Sea slugs of Southern Norway recently got its own Instagram account! Perfect for on the go if you would like to quickly check some species or just want to look at pretty pictures; click here, and don’t forget to follow us.

Curious about what we have been doing so far,  read about it in our blogs on the invertebrate website;
First fieldwork blog Drøbak may 2018;
Second fieldwork blog Haugesund July 2018;
Third fieldwork trip august 2018

Become a member of the sea slugs of southern Norway facebook group, stay updated and join the discussion; https://www.facebook.com/groups/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/

Why is it SeaSlugDay today? Read more about that here!  (link goes to Echinoblog)

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

-Cessa

Teaching DNA barcoding in Siberia

Endre, Katrine, Nataliya and Tom have recently been on a journey far removed from the ocean – although the location did hold a lot of fresh water…!

It really does look and feel a lot like an ocean…

We have – together with Torbjørn Ekrem from the NTNU University Museum – been teaching DNA barcoding at the Russian-Norwegian course “Data mobilization skills: training on mobilizing biodiversity data using GBIF and BOLD tools”, which was held in Naratey on the western shore of Lake Baikal September 14-20, 2018!

The course consisted of two modules focusing on GBIF and BOLD tools. The GBIF part was taught by Dag Endresen from UiO, Laura Russell and Dmitry Schigel from the GBIF Secretariat.

It included both online preparatory work for the students and (mainly) onsite components. The online portion consisted of tasks that the students completed on GBIF’s eLearning portal.

The onsite work was comprised of 20 different sessions of lectures and practical exercises, the latter with a significant component of group work.

16 students from Norwegian and Russian intuitions participated, and did a wonderful job of assimilating a lot of information in a short amount of time, and turning it into practical skills.

The two main platforms we used were GBIF and BOLD – two large depositories for different kinds of biodiversity data. The GBIF-part of the course focused on the technical aspects of data mobilization, such as data capture, and management and online publishing of biodiversity data in order to increase the amount, richness and quality of data published through the GBIF network.

Team GBIF getting set up Photo: N. Ivanova

BOLD; Barcode of Life Data Systems

The barcoding part was aimed at both users and providers of barcoding data, and began with an introduction to the barcoding concept, and a case study of integrating data from BOLD and GBIF. This was followed by a session on the use of BOLD: creating projects and datasets, and the uploading of data, images, sequences and trace files. The students got to try all of this for themselves, and we were impressed by how well they worked together to find solutions and teach each other valuable tricks to solve the challenges.

Following the lessons on how to get sequence data into the database, we covered basics of sequence analysis, and gave an introduction to the free software MEGA X which can be used for sequence alignment, translation and phylogeny.

Working in MEGA Photo: k. Kongshavn

This was again followed by a practical session in MEGA on a given data set. We also had a session presenting the analytical tools in BOLD, with a practical session exploring a dataset from NTNU. Our lessons were very well received by the students, with an average score of 4.8 out of a possible 5 on the evaluations – nice feedback for the teachers!

Students and teachers gathered in the Siberian sun
Photo: Dmitry Schigel, CC-BY-SA

The final task for the students was to present their presentations for “The Baikal Biodiversity Challenge”, which they were presented with on the first day of the course.

The Baikal Biodiversity Challenge

The challenge was to develop a biodiversity inventory project to map and analyze the diversity of a selected animal group. To do so they would need to use available information in BOLD, GBIF and other sources to examine what was known and identify information that was missing, and come up with suggestions on how it could be solved. It was not the easiest of tasks, however all four groups gave excellent presentations.

 

Group selfie wearing the NorBOL buff scarves – #mydnabarcode! Photo by Laura Russell, CC-BY-SA

The course was arranged as collaboration between the University of Bergen, the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry Russian Academy of Sciences (SIPPB SB RAS), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat. NorBOL (Norwegian Barcode of Life) supplied the teachers for the barcoding part of the programme, namely Endre, Torbjørn, Katrine and Tom. Funding came from the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (previously SIU, now DIKU), GBIF and the Research School in Biosystematics (ForBio).

For those who might not know, ForBio is a teaching and research initiative coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Oslo, the University Museum of Bergen, the Tromsø University Museum and the NTNU University Museum. It is funded by the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative and the Research Council of Norway. The Research School offers a wide variety of both practical and theoretical courses in biosystematics, and provides a platform for facilitating teaching and research collaboration between Nordic research institutes.  The course portfolio is likely to have something of interest to offer if you work with anything related to biosystematics –and is open (and often free) to you if you are student, researcher or staff at universities, institutes and consulting companies.

Most of the ForBio courses are arranged in Norway or other Nordic countries – but this course was the second of a total six that are arranged as part of the SIU-funded MEDUSA*-project (Multidisciplinary EDUcation and reSearch in mArine biology in Norway and Russia), which is coordinated by Nataliya. The six courses are

  1. ForBio and DLN course: Comparative Morphology Methods (Trondheim, Norway 2018)
  2. Data mobilization skills: training on mobilizing biodiversity data using GBIF and BOLD tools (Siberia, Russia 2018)
  3. Zooplankton communities – taxonomy and methods (Espegrend Marine Biological Station, UiB, Norway, tentatively May 2019)
  4. Systematics, Morphology and Evolution of Marine Mollusks (Vostok Marine Research Station, Institute of Marine Biology, Vladivostok, Russia, September 2019)
  5. Systematics, Morphology and Evolution of Marine Annelids (Espegrend Marine Biological Station, UiB, Norway, tentatively June 2020)
  6. Diversity and Evolution of Meiobenthos (White Sea Biological Station, Moscow State University, Russia, September 2020)

We enjoyed the opportunity to visit such a remote locality, and to get to know the students and teachers – thank you all for making this such a wonderful experience!

Thanks also to the BOLD support team for excellent help before and during the course!

A few snapshots from the area – it was stunning! Photos by K. Kongshavn

A beautiful view from Olkhon Island (after the course), photo by K.Kongshavn

ps: we also tweeted using #ForBio_GBIF during the course

The 7th International Barcode of Life (IBOL) conference

 IBOL 2017 took place in the most fantastic venue imaginable: inside Kruger National Park in South Africa! Hosted by the African Centre for DNA Barcoding (ACDB) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ),  the conference gathered ~450 participants from 72 different countries for a week of networking, knowledge sharing, and unforgettable experiences.

Participants of IBOL 2017. Photo by J. Potgieter

Located at the conference centre in Skukuza rest camp, IBOL 2017 filled every available room with sessions ranging from forensic applications of barcoding to the most cutting edge technology. A excellent overview of the topic trends is presented as an article that can be found here (.pdf, open access)

Norway was well represented, with 15 delegates and 23 contributions from various universities, museums and organisations. You can read more about that, and about Trondheim being the host of the next IBOL conference (to take place 17th-20th of June 2019) here (only in Norwegian atm).

The invertebrate collections of UM Bergen participated with five posters and three lightning talks on marine barcoding: three posters focussing on Norwegian waters, and two related to our MIWA-project (Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa, blog here). A lightning presentation is a five minute talk where the author gets to present their poster before the poster session.

Attending from UM were Jon, Tom and Katrine – as well as Lloyd from Ghana, who has been a regular guest researcher here for some time now, working with the MIWA polychaetes together with us.

Tom, Jon and Katrine on their way to Kruger (photo: THR)

Tom, Katrine, Jon and Lloyd attending the game drive during the conference (Photo: THR)

Our contributions:

Our five posters

Barcoding of marine invertebrates from Norway through NorBOL
Katrine Kongshavn, Jon A. Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad, Endre Willassen

Investigating the marine invertebrate fauna of the West African continental shelf with DNA barcodes
Endre Willassen, Jon A. Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn, Manuel A.E. Malaquias, Tom Alvestad

Building a comprehensive barcode reference library of the Norwegian Echinodermata through NorBOL – an ongoing effort
Tom Alvestad, Katrine Kongshavn, Jon A Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Kennet Lundin, Hans T Rapp, Endre Willassen

Diversity and species distributions of Glyceriformia (Annelida, Polychaeta) in shelf areas off western Africa
Lloyd Allotey, Tom Alvestad, Jon A Kongsrud, Akanbi B Williams, Katrine Kongshavn, Endre Willassen

Assessing species diversity in marine bristle worms (Annelida, Polychaeta): integrating barcoding with traditional morphology-based taxonomy
Jon A Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Eivind Oug, Tom Alvestad, Arne Nygren, Katrine Kongshavn, Nataliya Budaeva, Maria Capa, Endre Willassen

All the posters are available on the conference website. Do make sure to check the photo galleries there as well!

It was occasionally challenging to focus on the excellent presentations, as temptations like this kept appearing – but we prevailed, and return with a lot of new knowledge and acquaintances.

That’s not to say that we did not make the most of our free time to go and explore the park!

Here are some of the amazing encounters Kruger NP offered us (Katrine’s photos):

 

We had a fantastic time, our thanks to the organizers and the lovely team of volunteers for all their hard work!

-Jon, Tom, Lloyd & Katrine

PS: If you wish to stay updated on news from the conference, follow @DNABarcodes, #IBOL2017, and for news on the upcoming IBOL2019; @norwbol on Twitter

Exposing the Indian Ocean staggering diversity: fieldtrip to Nuarro, northern Mozambique (October 2017)

Pursuing our goal to understand the diversity, origin and biogeography of the Indo-West Pacific biota, we went back to Mozambique to continue the exploration of the reef systems of the country. After a first fieldtrip to the subtropical southern coast of Mozambique in 2014, and a second during 2015 to the tropical Quirimbas islands (Vamizi I.) not far from the border with Tanzania, we visited this time for two weeks between the 15–28 October 2017 the coastal pristine reefs and mangroves of Memba District in Nuarro, Nangata Bay, together with Prof. João Macuio from the University Lurio, Pemba and Dr Yara Tibiriça based at Nuarro Lodge, that kindly organized the expedition.

The staggering diversity of the tropical Indo-Pacific is well known and the area between the Philippines, Indonesia, and New Guinea (the Coral Triangle) is famous for hosting the highest marine diversity in the planet. However, for various reasons (political, economic, etc.) the Indian Ocean has been comparatively less surveyed, and much fewer studies are available for this region. Some recent publications are though showing that for corals and molluscs, at least, the region is extremely diverse, nearly comparable with the coral triangle.

We want to understand why is this region so diverse and whether the Indian Ocean harbours similar or a different faunal composition compared to the West Pacific Ocean. The traditional view is that most tropical species are broadly distributed across the Indo-West Pacific, but recent evidence from DNA studies suggests otherwise, but this is not yet well understood. If significant differences are found, then, understanding what may have driven speciation across both realms becomes a major quest.

Jorunna rubescens

Phyllidia varicosa

Plakobranchus sp.

Reticulidia suzanneae

Nuarro is a remote place, four and half hours driving from Nampula international airport, half of them through earth roads. It is located in beautiful Nangata Bay lined by fine white sands and calm turquoise waters. The area is characterized by a large diversity of marine habitats like sand flats, coral bommies, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and coralline drop-off walls plunging into the deep blue.

The expedition had its basecamp at Nuarro Lodge, an eco-lodge offering diving facilities and a research center. The lodge besides its hostel activities is engaged in social, educational, heath, and nature conservation programmes with the local communities helping to improve education standards for the younger generations, mitigate the impact of native diseases like malaria, and the sustainable use of nature resources. For this last goal a marine protected area was created in 2008.

João Macuio and Manuel Malaquias during a nudi photo session

Local fishermen in a wooden canoe

Measuring giant clams underwater

Yara Tibiriçá databasing the catch of the day

During two weeks we have surveyed the area for marine molluscs (sea slugs) and studied the impact of the marine protected area in the conservation of the highly sensitive and threatened giant clams (Tridacna spp.). The days at Nuarro began early, around 5.30–6am, with the sun already out and high in the blue sky. Waking up was not difficult, with the awesome strident ensemble of sounds from the many local different birds and the monkeys running and jumping on the thatched roofs of our housing! First sampling of the day around 8.30am, followed by a second one after lunchtime. The evenings were dedicated to study, photograph, identify, and database the catch of the day. We have collected approximately 68 species of sea slugs; 11 are new records to Mozambique and an additional 12 still undescribed. The conservation status of the populations of giant-clams was evaluated in areas under fishing pressure by the local communities and inside the marine reserve for comparison, and it was obvious the positive impact of the marine protect area.

Monkey jumping on the roof of our accommodation

A “family” of moray eels

Collecting in the mangroves

Crown-of-thorns starfish feeding on coral

Detail of a gorgonian coral

Garden eels

Nangata Bay, Nuarro

The flatworm Pseudoceros lindae

The days were busy and went far too fast, but there was time for a short social programme where we paid a visit to the local village and visited the primary school built by the lodge and met a group of local activists that work with the community to raise awareness for issues concerning hygiene, malaria, and other health matters, which regrettably still claim lives in the region far beyond acceptable numbers on the XXI century. Before the trip to Nuarro I was challenged to take a football ball with me for the local team. I have obviously eagerly done it, and it was a great delight to the see the joy of the players of the “Real Nangata” playing around with their new ball!

Primary school build by the lodge at Nangata village

Real Nangata football club

View of Nangata village with a baubau tree

The Nuarro expedition would not have been possible without the gratitude and support of the Nuarro Eco-Lodge to which I am deeply indebted.  I am also thankful to Prof. Isabel Silva from the University Lurio, Pemba and to the Fisheries Department of the Cabo Delgado Province from granting collecting and exporting permits.

Manuel António E. Malaquias, Associate Professor

Natural History Museum of Bergen, Norway

 

Getting back in business

The blog has been quiet over summer – but we’ve been busy!

The #AnnelidaCourse2017 came to an end, and happy participants went back to their home institutions with a lot of new knowledge, a increased contact network, and many new friends.

a)Students working in the lab; b) Picking interesting animals from the samples onboard R/V Hans Brattström; c) Animals to be studied; d) Group photo of most of the participants; e) Detailed study and drawing of a specimen; f) Field work onboard R/V Aurelia Fotos: K.Kongshavn (a,b,e), G. Kolbasova (c), G.Jolly (d), S. Rosli (f)

a) Students working in the lab; b) Picking interesting animals from the samples onboard R/V Hans Brattström;
c) Animals to be studied; d) Group photo of most of the participants; e) Detailed study and drawing of a specimen; f) Field work onboard R/V Aurelia Fotos: K.Kongshavn (a,b,e), G. Kolbasova (c), G.Jolly (d), S. Rosli (f)

Heaps (HEAPS!) of samples have been cataloged and labeled, DNA-sequencing has completed on the shipment we sent in June and we’re working on analyzing the results, and samples from the cruises we particpated on have and are being sorted.

The next shipment of animals to be barcoded through NorBOL is being assembled – of marine invertebrates from our collections, one plate of polychaetes and one plate of isopods have been prepared, and we plan on completing a few more plates before shipping in October.

Isopods for barcoding - these have all been collected and identified by the MAREANO project. Photo: K.Kongshavn

Isopods for barcoding – these have all been collected and identified by the MAREANO project. Photo: K.Kongshavn

We will also get contributions from several of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative projects (Artsprosjekt) that are running, and a plate with insect samples made by the students of BIO233 (I was down there today giving them an introduction to barcoding, NorBOL and the BOLD database) – hopefully we’ll get good results on all of it.

-Katrine

International Course on Annelid Systematics, Morphology and Evolution

The two-week long International Course on Annelid Systematics, Morphology and Evolution is up and running at the Espegrend Marine Biological Station!

The course is held by the University Museum of Bergen in cooperation with the Moscow State University and ForBio (Research School in Biosystematics). It is sponsored by SPIRE (Strategic Programme for International Research and Education) and SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education). More info about the course can be found here.

Twenty students and eighteen course organizers and instructors from Norway, Russia and 10 more countries are participating in the course, which is being held in the University of Bergen’s marine research station at Espegrend.

lectures

Conrad (top) and Ken giving presentations

The course has started with a lecture on basic concepts in phylogenetics and evolution following by Endre Willassen, followed by the talks on phylogeny of Annelida by Ken Halanych (Auburn University) and Conrad Helm (Sars Centre).

boat

R/V Hans Brattstrøm, on the road With sampling gear, and enthusiastic sorting in the lab

We have been samplingwith both R/V Hans Brattstrøm and the smaller boat Aurelia in several benthic biotopes in the vicinity of the station, and have collected plenty of serpulids and siboglinids among other worm families.

The first laboratory session focused on Sabellida and Siboglinidae and were taught by Maria Capa (NTNU), Nadya Rimskaya-Korsakova (MSU) and Glafira Kolbasova (MSU). Nadya has brought few large vestimentiferans from the Moscow collection and the students got the opportunity to look at famous hydrothermal vent tubeworms.

Samples-both brought from Russia, and caught locally - the live specimens are stored in the cold room , and we suffer a little when we og to get them..!

Samples-both fixated specimens brought from Russia, and live ones caught locally – the live specimens are stored in the cold room , and we suffer a little when we og to get them..!

We’ll be blogging more from the from the course, so check back! You can also get some glimpses of the exciting world of Worm researchers by checking the tag #annelidacourse2017 on Twitter.

Congratulations to our latest PhD!

Freshly minted PhD!  (photo: Kenneth F. Bosch)

Freshly minted PhD!
(photo: Kenneth F. Bosch)

Andrea successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis “Dietary specialization and molecular phylogeny of the family Aglajidae (Cephalaspidea: Gastropoda) with species delimitation analysis and biogeography of two genera from the clade Chelidonura sensu lato” earlier today. She was supervised by Manuel A.E. Malaquias from the Department of Natural History, UM, and Henrik Glenner from the Department of Biology.

You can read more about her work here (in Norwegian)

Congratulations and all the best wishes from us!

Below are photos of some of the species, if you are wondering how they look (pics by Manuel)

Sognefjorden cruise May 2017

After our week with SponGES on R/V Bonnevie, Luis and I had a night back in Bergen before we headed out on our second spring adventure: a four day cruise (still onboard Bonnevie) of Sognefjorden, the longest (205 km) and (deepest 1308 m) fjord in Norway.

The cruise, led by Prof. Henrik Glenner from the Institute of Biology, UoB,  was a multi-purpose one, with the majority of the projects being linked to the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (Artsprosjekt):

We collected material for the ongoing project that is investigating and mapping the barnacle fauna (Crustacea: Cirripedia) in Norway, which a special focus on the strange, parasitic barnacle Anelasma squalicola that is found on the shark Etmopterus spinax (velvet bellied lantern shark/svarthå).

The material we collected will also serve as an addendum to the project on Species inventory and nature type mapping of Sognefjorden, which was recently concluded.

As for the University Museum, Luis was onboard collecting pelagic and benthic Hydrozoa for the HYPNO-project, whilst I was on the hunt for more species for DNA-barcoding through NorBOL (the Norwegian Barcode of Life). We have also re-sampled some polychaete type localities from the 1970’s, and attempted to retrieve more material from stations where we have found new species in more recent material (we need more specimens before we can formally describe them).

In addition, we had two Danish researchers onboard that were studying the bioluminescence and eye development of the starfish family Brisingidae. The story told in images:

We should maybe also add "one of the most gorgeous" to the description of the fjord

We should maybe also add “one of the most gorgeous” to the description of the fjord

Velvet belly lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax

Velvet belly lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax

Henrik and Christoph sorting a shrimp trawl catch on deck

Henrik and Christoph sorting a shrimp trawl catch on deck

Eager pickings in the trawl catch

Eager pickings in the trawl catch

Not all trawl samples go according to plan... this one, taken in the open sea, ended up sampling *a bit* deeper than intended, so we got a lot of benthic animals - and mud. So. much. mud.

Not all trawl samples go according to plan… this one, taken in the open sea, ended up sampling *a bit* deeper than intended, so we got a lot of benthic animals – and mud. So. much. mud.

Most novel sampling gear yet? Collecting velvet belly lanternshark by monkfish!

Most novel sampling gear yet? Collecting velvet belly lanternshark by monkfish! (caught in the “benthic” trawl)

The brisinga sea stars are very fragile - and live deep down.

The brisinga sea stars are very fragile – and live deep down.

We amanged to get some not-too-damaged specimens with a small trawl

We manged to get some not-too-damaged specimens with a small trawl

The plankton net going our for collecting

The plankton net going our for collecting

Luis an Marie studying a plankton sample

Luis an Marie studying a plankton sample

Plankton

Plankton

For some reason, my samples seems to involve inordinate amounts of mud - good thing I had good helpers to work through it all!

For some reason, my samples seems to involve inordinate amounts of mud – good thing I had good helpers to work through it all!

Cruising in a postcard!

Cruising in a postcard!

Sadly, plastic pollution was prevalent in Sognefjorden as well - here's a soda bottle from a sample taken at 911 m depth

Sadly, plastic pollution was prevalent in Sognefjorden as well – here’s a soda bottle from a sample taken at 911 m depth

And here are som eof the plastic that we ended up with from our sampling, most of it from over 1000 meters depth.

Here is some of the plastic that we ended up with from our sampling, most of it recovered from over 1000 meters depth.

Our final night of the cruise was spent in the mud and the sunset - it's starting to become a recurring theme!

Our final night of the cruise was spent in the mud and the sunset – it’s starting to become a recurring theme!

Once again, thank you so much to the crew on Bonnevie for all their help!

Once again, thank you so much to the crew on Bonnevie for all their help!

-Katrine

Fieldwork with the SponGES project on R/V Kristine Bonnevie – part II

I wanted to write a bit more abou the SponGES cruise, as we are currently entering Sognefjorden on the second spring cruise Luis and I have managed to sign up for (what a job!).

SponGES took us to Korsfjorden, Bømlafjorden, west of Bømlahuken and finally past Fedje and back to Bergen. We ended up with ~70 stations, using grabs, Agassiz trawl, plankton net, RP-sledge and ROV. For the most part the gear performed admirably, though we had some mishaps (and an epic final station, key word being MUD – Anne Helene will have more to say about that one).
The first grab of the new cruise is going down, so I have to be quick; here’s SponGES in pictures (not recorded: lots of laughs and horrible songs)

Fieldwork with the SponGES project on R/V Kristine Bonnevie

20170428_143104

Greetings from the big, old blue!

We don’t have much internet out here, so updates will be sporadic – but here’s the tale of the first half of the two cruises that the Invertebrate Collections people have stowed away on this spring. The current cruise is part of the SponGES-project that is being coordinated by the University of Bergen, Norway (prof. Hans Tore Rapp).

We are currently midway in the six-day cruise (26th of April to 2nd of May), and are presently to be found at 59°63,000 N, 04°42,000 E – there are mountains on one horizon, and open ocean on the other. After a night of muddy (clay-y) sampling, the majority of us are relaxing and eagerly awaiting lunch, whilst some of the sponge-folks are huddled inside the big, blue container on the deck, surveying the sea floor with the ROV Aglantha (occasionally cherry-picking sponges with fancy scoops).

The ROV Aglantha, inside the Blue Box, and sponge-capturing device

The ROV Aglantha, inside the Blue Box, and sponge-capturing device

At present we are at station #33; it has been three busy days so far! This is the first trip for all of us on the “new” R/V Kristine Bonnevie (formerly known as “Dr. Fritjof Nansen”, but that name has passed on to the new Nansen vessel), and we’re thoroughly enjoying it. The crew is amazing, the food is delicious, and the samples keep coming – what’s not to like? Even the weather has been good to us most of the time – though we have sprouted quite a crop of anti-seasickness patches onboard by now!

#bestoffice

#bestoffice

We had to take a break to admire this

We had to take a break to admire this

Shenanigans on deck

Shenanigans on deck

In addition to the ROV, we are using van Veen grabs, Agassiz trawl, plankton net, and RP-sledge to collect fauna. We also stumbled across hundreds of meters of lost fishing line when diving with Aglantha – the operators were able to catch an end of it, and it was dragged onboard to be discarded properly. The rope was heavily colonized by sponges, hydrozoa and mussels, so we got a “bonus sample” from that – and we got to clear away some marine pollution. Win/win!

Old Fishing line being removed - and samples taken from it!

Old Fishing line being removed – and samples taken from it!

My main incentive for being onboard is to secure ethanol-fixed (=suitable for DNA work) material from locations that we have either none or only formaldehyde fixed. This will then become part of the museum collections – and we will have fresh material for DNA barcoding through NorBOL.

Ready to dive in!

Ready to dive in!

The art of washing grab samples - get rid of the mud, keep the animals intact!

The art of washing grab samples – get rid of the mud, keep the animals intact!

Scooping up top sediment from grabs for analyses

Scooping up top sediment from grabs for analyses

Incoming trawl

Incoming trawl

Sampling in the sunset

Sampling in the sunset

The samples we are collecting are gently and carefully treated on deck before being bulk (i.e. unsorted) fixated in ethanol. There is lab space onboard, but we don’t have the time to do much sorting here. It will be exciting to see what we find once we get back to the lab and begin sorting it!

Lab facilities onboard

Lab facilities onboard

But before we get to that, we have three more days with SponGES, and then we go on to the next cruise, which will also be with Bonnevie – this time we’re heading up and into the Sognefjord.

Stay tuned for updates!

-Katrine

ps: SponGES’ facebook page is here