Friday, 11 April 2014

California and Chile - March 26-May 5, 2014 - April 10, 2014 - Frithjof

The Algae Group Blog website is ready for news! I am writing these lines during the last hour of an overnight flight from Atlanta (GA, USA) to Santiago de Chile. Together with Teresa Tymon, MSc student of my long-time friend and collaborator Carl J. Carrano (San Diego State University), I have been travelling close to 20 h since leaving San Diego early last morning, via Salt Lake City and Atlanta. The last leg from Atlanta followed a route along the west coast of Florida, across Cuba, Panama, SW Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, a bit of the Pacific, and then into Chile.

I have spent 2 weeks visiting Carl and my other friends and collaborators in southern California – in particular, Dan Reed, Eric Hessell and Alison Butler at UC Santa Barbara (and special thanks to Glyn and Jean Pritchard for their hospitality). Ever since I was a postdoc with Alison Butler at UCSB (2001-2003), this used to be an important part of life – I used to come back almost every spring since then, for 2 appointments as visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara, the PhD of Cliff Ross, and, of course, the many years of collaboration with Carl in San Diego. However, due to increased activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and South Atlantic, I had not been back since March 2010 – it was time to reinvigorate my California ties.

Later today, Teresa and I will be met at ECIM (EstaciĆ³n Costiera de Investigaciones Marinas) in Las Cruces (about the same latitude as Santiago on the long Chilean coastline) by Pedro Murua Andrade, my new Chilean PhD student. In 4 days’ time, we will be joined by Melina Marcou (Dept. of Fisheries and Marine Research, Cyprus Government).

The objectives of this trip are to explore 2 features the world’s largest seaweed, giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), which is abundant along much of the Chilean coast, but also in California, the Falkland Islands and other parts of the world. Firstly, we are trying to get new insight into the halogen (in particular, iodine) metabolism in Macrocystis. While the North Atlantic kelp Laminaria digitata is well explored in this respect and known to be the strongest iodine accumulator in life, impacting atmospheric processes through its emissions  of molecular iodine (I2). Secondly, we (in particular, Pedro) are interested in the pathogens infecting gametophytes of Macrocystis.  The work is funded by the EU project ASSEMBLE ( and CONICYT (the Chilean national research council).

Our time in Chile will be concluded by 5 days in Easter Island, one of the remotest islands on Planet Earth – diving included. I teach island biogeography and conservation at Aberdeen, and I am hoping to get some inspiration for these lectures which have become quite popular among the students from visiting the textbook example of a ruined island ecosystem.

 pizza and beer with Glyn Pritchard in Goleta

 Pt Loma and Coronado San Diego

 San Diego State University

 Santa Barbara California

  Marine Science Institute UCSB

 Teresa and Fifi landed in Santiago de Chile

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