Today is World Oceans Day with the 2016 theme being “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”. As part of a the effort by Nature Microbiology to highlight some recent research in marine science, we got the chance to participate with a Q & A section about Aiptasia. Check it out!
By Philipp & Diana
After a busy week taking care of all the Acropora larvae and finalizing our experiments, we went on a final night snorkel with amazing bioluminescence on Saturday. On Sunday, we had our last day at Sesoko which was filled with filtering larvae and packing all of our equipment. We stayed up late to pack the larvae we wanted to bring to Germany as late as possible and finally went to bed after cleaning the lab at 1.30 a.m. On Monday, we got up at 5.30 to get to the airport for our flight back. After a 20 h journey, we got back to the lab in Heidelberg where Liz and Annika waited for us.Together, we unpacked the larvae and put them into new containers and gave them fresh sea water. Most larvae survived and seem to like it in our lab.
Our two weeks in Okinawa went by way too fast. We really enjoyed the field work together with our Japanese collaborators. One highlight was the amazing coral reef by the Sesoko Marine Station and at the South tip of Sesoko. Hopefully, we can come back next year and see some awesome creatures like the octopi, sea snakes, puffer fish and stone fish and cornetfish again. ARIGATO GOZEIMAS.
By Philipp & Diana:
After waiting for spawning, Annika missed the spawning by two nights. On Thursday night, 2 sick colonies in the water tables spawned. The following day,we went to the East coast of Okinawa to find Mangroves and look for anemones. Unfortunately we did not spot any but we saw some mudhoppers and lots of crabs. That night, a few more colonies spawned and Masayuki and Reyna were able to also collect some larvae in the field.
Interestingly, the following day, all remaining colonies spawned giving us plenty of eggs. On the same day, spawning of A. tenuis and A. gemnifera occured in the field.
Of course that meant that we needed to spend considerable time taking care of all the larvae. Masayuki and his team showed us how to wash them and keep them happy and the following days were spent doing just that.
After a day full of sampling on Sunday, we took Liz to the airport on Monday morning and moved to the guest house at Sesoko. A day later, our Japanese collaborators left Sesoko, leaving just Diana and me to take care of all the larvae. We set up a bunch of infections and had our plate full just taking care of that.
Philipp and Diana have safely arrived to join us at Sesoko. By now, we are pretty big group of people united to wait for the day of Acropora spawning. The weather got better and the water temperature has risen to 25 degrees Celsius – just about right for spawning induction. Luckily, there is enough to do: snorkeling, food-shopping, equipment shopping at the Daiso (you can never have enough plastic cups for experiments!), collecting flatworms and other creatures in the tide pools and of setting up little fun experiments. But maybe tonight the waiting is over!?
Over the last 3 days, we settled into the routine of waiting. Every night at 8.30 pm we go for a night snorkel to check on the Montipora colonies to spawn in the sea. They are supposed to spawn a few days before Acropora, our object of interest. So far no promising signs though. At 9.30 pm, we start to check our field-collected Acropora colonies in the water tables and continue to do so every 15 min until 10.30 pm. So far no signs. On a positive note: we have time during the day to cruise around, go snorkeling to amazing snorkel-spots such as the South tip of Sesoko island and enjoy the local ice-cream. The number of waiting researchers at the station has increased substantially and so has the amount of food and Formaldehyde in the lab. Did I mention that being bare-feet in the lab is a must?
After gathering a few more pieces of high-tech equipment at the Daiso and our favorite hardware store (The Monkey Store), Liz has successfully set up her first experiment with adult corals which will be running for the next 10 days. From now on, each evening we will check the Acropora corals in the ocean in front of Sesoko Marine station by snorkeling and in our water table for the beginning of spawning. Spawning is predicted for Sunday the 22nd of May at around 9.30 pm. However, they can be a few days early or late, thus from now on we will operate on coral watch every evening. Unfortunately, the water temperature has dropped below 25 degrees Celsius which may delay the awaited spawning. But of course there is always time for a beer after a busy day in our favorite Isakaya right next to our Super Hotel. Our evening work has freed up some time to check out Naha´s famous market where you can buy every marine creature that you can order in a restaurant. Including symbiotic giant clam (chacogai), which Liz and I enjoyed eating on Tuesday. Summary: Everything is awesome.
Day 2 and 3 were dedicated to coral colony collection from the reef for spawning in buckets later this week. It´s a four person job: Masayuki is an expert in spotting mature coral colonies by snorkeling. Liz and I use Scuba and some serious hammering and chiseling to free individual colonies from the reef and Reina is always ready to collect and transfer our corals in buckets to the boat. After a few hours, together we got some beautiful Acropora digitifera at the south tip of Sesoko island and Acropora tenius in the north. Corals were brought back to shore and are now stored in our water table at Sesoko Marine Station. After the Hatta and Guse lab, the Ueno lab has now also arrived and our cosy wet lab space is almost ready for action. And by the way, after one day of sunshine we just hit the rainy season. Oh well – it´s still pretty gorgeous out here.
Arrival day. After a a stressful week of packing and organizing all equipment for the coral spawning season 2016 in Okinawa, we finally arrived safely. Upon arrival, Liz and I found a lovely Welcome note in the Nago Super Hotel and made our first trip up to the Sesoko Marine Station to store our dive gear and lab equipment. We concluded the day in our favorite Isakaya with a cold Orion beer and some delicious sashimi, shrimp tempura and tofu. What could be better?
We are happy to have Diana as a new lab member. Diana joined the team to help to make our anemone care more efficient and professional. The anemones love her and so do we. In addition, we have Desiree back and Sebastian Baumgarten for a short term visit. It´s starting to get cosy in lab:-)
I am happy to announce that our next paper entitled “Development and Symbiosis Establishment in the Cnidarian Endosymbiosis Model Aiptasia sp.” got published in Scientific Reports. Congratulations to Madeline as the first author and all other participating authors from the lab. It´s open access so please check it out: Bucher et al., 2016