ORCA Interdisciplinary Projects

State of Possession Sound

The overarching theme of ocean research at ORCA is evidenced in quarter and year long research projects.  The most extensive of these projects is the State of Possession Sound, a student designed and implemented monitoring project in the local area.  Every two weeks, rotating groups of students conduct on the water sampling from the custom designed research vessel, Phocoena, funded by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation. ORCA has been conducting State of Possession Sound (SOPS) research for nine years as an in-house project, designed as a way to facilitate student engagement in scientific inquiry. Students work collaboratively onboard  armed with monitoring and sampling equipment to measure temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll concentration, phosphates and nitrates from various depths at five different locations. At each station, vertical and horizontal plankton tows are conducted, bird and mammal species presence and abundance are recorded, and a sediment sample is collected. This research lays the foundation for further independent work during student's second year.

The Annual Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks provides an opportunity for visitors to see the research students have been engaged in during their first and second year of the ORCA program. The 2016 PSSST event is on Thursday, June 2, 2016 from 2:30-4:30 (there are professional scientists presenting from Noon-2). 
Poster presentations from 2:30-3:00 include the following:
How pH Varies with Each Season in the Possession Sound
Variations in Phosphate and Nitrate Levels with Season in Possession Sound
Levels of pH in Possession Sound 
Seasonal Variation of Nitrates, Ammonia and Nitrites in Possession Sound
Spatial Variation of Nutrients in Possession Sound
Genetic Diversity of Eelgrass and Temperature Trends in Possession Sound
Comparing Heavy Metal Concentrations in Human Hair and River Otter Fur
There are student presentations from 3:00-4:00 
The second round of the Poster Session from 4:00-4:30 will include:

Distribution of Heavy Metals in Possession Sound with Varying Proximity to Shore
Heavy Metals Concentrations in Possession Sound
Snohomish River Discharge Influence on Heavy Metal Concentrations in Possession Sound
Mercury and Lead Concentration in Possession Sound 
Removal of the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Effect on Heavy Metals in Sediments and Water Chemistry
Heavy Metal Deposits in Relation with Snohomish River Discharge  
The Uptake of Heavy Metals in Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and Phytoplankton in Possession Sound
Correlation Between Anthropogenic Influence and Microplastic Concentration in Possession Sound
Plankton Density and Larval Fish Abundance in Possession Sound

Recent partnerships with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Port of Everett resulted in the deployment of an underwater instrument that measures temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen every 15 minutes and transmits the data online.

Click here to view the first SOPS Update for Cruise 50.

Read the article about state of Possession Sound published in Current: The Journal for Marine Education, written by Ardi Kveven and Josh Searle.