Sponge Sampling 2016
It is summer 2016 and I am in Blanes (Spain) to sample sponges. More precisely, the mediterranean sponge Crambe crambe. At the moment I am guest of Maria J. Uriz Lespe and Carla Huete Stauffer at the Centre d'estudis avancats de Blanes. And my trip is, of course, part of the BluePharmTrain Project.
Monday, 07.18.2016 - We arrived yesterday in Blanes. Carla picked us up from Girona airport. Thank you so much! She also went shopping with us and was the translator for the old lady-landlord. Our apartment is a bit far away from the centre, but this is fine, because the centre seems to be a tourist hot-spot.
Carla picked me up Monday morning again and drove with me to the institute. She showed me the whole institute (below), planned the sampling dives and prepared the aquarium for the sponges (also below). We also met Maria, and she gave me some advice concerning the Crambe larvae I am looking for. Tomorrow will be the first dive!
Arriving at the institute...
...which is placed on a mountain with a really nice view at it's front.
The building is very open and sunny...
...with a green patio.
Carla's office door. Still in progress.
The aquarium setup for the sponges tomorrow.
Tuesday, 07.19.2016 - Punta Santa Anna, first sampling day. Carla, Xavier, and I, went out to collect the first sponges. The site was right behind the harbor and fish-market in Blanes, hence very close to the institute. Since I am lacking a diving licence I just followed by snorkelling and documented the diving. Carla and Xavier took care of the sample collection. All went smooth, I only lost the signal buoy :(
Carla and Xavier are collecting the first Crambe sponges.
Even without the diving gear I was still able to follow them.
Crambe crambe is everywhere at this spot. A great place for the first dive.
Crambe crambe close up.
Right after sampling I took care of the first RNAlater samples. But everything else happened in the lab afterwards.
One cryostock tube looks small and easy, but it's a lot of work to finally take a picture of it.
Wednesday, 07.20.2016 - A very long lab day. Finishing all the samples from yesterday, before we collect more tomorrow. Not much to tell, since I couldn't do anything else except grinding and pipetting. Also thanks to Carla again, she is helping me so much.
The larvae we were looking for.
120 liquid cultures later.
Thursday, 07.21.2016 - Punta Santa Anna, second sampling day. We tried to collect more sponges, but also tested some larvae sampling methods.
Carla and Xavier at the Crambe beach.
A free floating Crambe larvae (left corner).
Maybe the best way to get those floating larvae.
Fat Crambe sponges everywhere.
Another way to collect environmental larvae.
Closing the net to store our catch.
I found another sponge in the bay. Yet to be classified.
This is how I look like for the real divers.
There was a sexy surprise for all of us when we came back to the beach.
All collected sponges were stored in the aquaria.
Since some of the larvae already started to settle....
...I immediately started to process them.
Friday, 07.22.2016 - Today we continued to work on the remaining samples from yesterday
Carla started to separate the larvae from the sponges in the microscopy lab.
Some of the sponges had still plenty of larvae inside.
A closer look at a single larvae.
The kind of lab work we all know from the news media.
A small fraction of the processed samples as cultures. Feierabend.
Saturday till Sunday, 07.23. - 07.24.2016 - Weekend. We went to a CSIC rooftop Paella afternoon dinner and to Barcelona.
Some cold Claras for the dinner.
The view from the rooftop above Blanes was awesome.
I witnessed a Pokemon gathering in Barcelona.
And I had no idea what I am drinking.
Tuesday, 07.26.2016 - L'Escala Cala Montgo, third sampling day. Carla and I used the last Monday to work on an abstract for sponge biotechnology book chapter. Today we drove to L'Escala and the Cala Montgo bay, a town about one hour from Blanes. The plan was to focus on the Crambe and collect other sponge for side projects.
Our sampling site.
This time Rudi was part of the diving team.
Rudi right before his sampling dive.
Immediately under the surface I spotted the first larvae floating around.
A swarm of fishes close to the surface.
While Rudi tried to catch larvae with the net...
...Carla tried the syringe method.
Aplysina aerophoba was also part of our sampling-list.
I spotted an octopus at the end of our dive.
Wednesday till Saturday, 07.27. till 07.30.2016 - We used the last days to proceed with the work on the book chapter abstract and, of course, processing the last samples from Cala Montgo.
Aplysina samples for Johanna, Indra, and the practical.
Johanna's cultivation experiment.
Plenty of larvae.
Now, I have larvae and sponge tissue as cryostocks...
...in liquid culture...
...and RNAlater. The RNAlater samples are either fresh from the beach or later processed in the lab. In addition, and not shown, are the freeze dried samples.
One of my lab-mates passed by to say goodbye.
A final look at my stay in Blanes. Far away from the centre and just 30 minutes down the hill from the institute.
Back in Germany and everything was cloudy and rainy again. At least the evening clouds tried to look cute.