On the day of the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, 21 June 2016, Lwandle, in partnership with the University of the Western Cape, The Spirit Foundation and Cape Peninsula University of Technology, partook in the International Ocean Sampling Day. Headed by the European research group ‘Micro B3’ (Marine Microbial Biodiversity, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology), OSD is a global campaign that aims to study marine microbes worldwide by providing a global set of samples that are all related in time, space and respective environments.
This is the third consecutive OSD to take place and it is the third time Lwandle has participated in this initiative. Lwandle invited three students through the Spirit Foundation from Claremont High School, with interests in marine biology, to assist with collecting and filtering the samples. The filtration of the samples was done with the assistance of the University of Western Cape (UWC) Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics who also provided their great laboratories for us to work in.
The weather on the day was pleasant with clear blue skies and calm seas. The sampling team, which consisted of Lwandle staff and the Claremont High students, collected six 5 litre surface water samples from a site registered on the OSD database offshore Robben Island. In addition, two CTD profiles were carried out to supplement the microbe sampling, and to provide insight into the physical environment in which the microbes exist. CPUT Survival Centre kindly provided two of their fast rescue crafts as well as two skippers who assisted us in getting to the site and obtaining the samples quickly and efficiently before anyone could get sea sick. On the way back to shore, we were fortunate enough to see a few whales swimming by.
The samples were then taken to the laboratory at UWC for filtration to take place. Dr Bronwyn Kirby from UWC supervised the filtering of the water samples for the collection of microbial material, with help from her PhD students who also gave us a tour of the lab and brief presentations on the research that they are doing.
Once the samples were filtered, they were preserved for transport to Germany, where DNA analysis of each sample will take place at the Micro B3 labs. The results will provide insights into fundamental rules describing microbial diversity and function and will contribute to the blue economy through the identification of novel, ocean-derived biotechnologies.
Global Initiatives such as OSD are essential to marine science as they contribute more information on the global marine microbial diversity. By participating in OSD, Lwandle hopes to promote South African involvement in these types of initiatives because they ensure that the South African environment is represented in global data sets. In addition to this, Lwandle hopes to inspire future marine scientists by promoting marine sciences to South African school learners.
At the end of the day, Ocean Sampling Day 2016 was a wonderful success, with all involved being thrilled to contribute to such an exciting initiative. Special thanks must go to CPUT Survival Centre for providing their two crafts and skippers and to UWC for providing the laboratory facilities. We look forward to participating in the next OSD in 2017.
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