Wednesday, August 1, 2012

31 July 2012 - Titration Playlist

I am the titration master, there is no question about it, my skills are said to even rival those of the almighty Joe. Totally kidding… but my titration skills have drastically improved since the beginning of this cruise! I believe the last time I ever titrated something before this cruise/internship was in chemistry 101 my freshman year of college... needless to say it took a little bit for me to get back into the swing of things, and the way we titrate materials is COMPLETELY different to titration in chemistry 101. We start out with the titration apparatus; which consists of two/three burets depending on what is needed for the titration, two beakers, tweezers, a stirring rod, a white background, a ruler, and a camera. We then fill the burets with sea water and a 50/50 sea water/glycerin mix. If the organisms are alive, we have to anesthetize them, and we do this by a beaker full of sea water and half an alkaseltzer tablet. This knocks them right out (with one exception…see below)! The glycerin used is denser than the sea water and by combining the two by the right amount we can make different organisms suspend neutrally buoyant in the mix. This is then used to somehow find the density of the organism… I have yet to truly figure out how that works but that’s for another time, for now more on titration.
So, now that you have an idea about titration, I will tell you which organisms you should avoid at all costs because they will literally leave you in the fetal position in a corner…
This is during the crab zoea titration, Kaylyn had to come to the rescue.
These organisms are in order from fetal position in a corner to OH MY GOSH I LOVE THESE THEY ARE SO COOPERATIVE:
Crab Zoea (Baby Crabs) – these guys can survive the apocalypse I swear… two alka-seltzer tablets later they were still zooming around the beaker…
Fish Larvae – require freshwater and sometimes their swim bladder popped… I didn’t realize this until probably an hour and a headache into the process
Fish Parts - these are messy and smell and sometimes uncooperative
Chaetognaths – they remind me of tapeworms and I have nightmares about them
Siphonophores – AKA the invisible organism…
Squid – They are super cute but temperamental
Shrimp – They are not half bad
Krill – currently my favourite because they all seem to have the same density
Amphipods – I haven’t titrated too many of these, but they are FREAKING COOL
So that’s my list from extreme hatred to love to titrate!
This titrating business isn’t all fun and games of course; it definitely takes a toll on you! We have the lucky bucket which we plant ourselves on to achieve desired height off the ground, but this is not enough, and we are forced to extend our arms up in the air to reach the table, and last night (or morning since I’m now nocturnal) I woke up from a titration dream and my arms were extended above my head in the perfect titration position!
Kaylyn in perfect titration position.
I have titrated over 220 organisms to neutral buoyancy on this trip so far and we are only a week in! My goal is to titrate 500 organisms or more on this cruise. Well I have to go work on that! Later Gator!