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Ocean Sampling Day, a Global Event for Sequencing the Oceans

19 June 2015

US - On the longest day in the northern hemisphere in 2015 (June 21) water samples will be taken at more than 160 sampling stations all around the world, from Iceland to Antarctica and from Moorea (French Polynesia) via the Americas to South Africa, including Boothbay, Maine, to identify naturally occurring microbes in the global ocean.

Ocean Sampling Day (OSD), born out of an international effort to better understand the ocean and the microorganisms within it, represents a trans-Atlantic cooperation between scientists and community members who are dedicated to preserving the environment that encapsulates over 80 percent of the world’s life forms.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is participating in this event with two sampling sites, one off the dock at Bigelow Laboratory in East Boothbay and one in West Boothbay Harbor at the dock site of the old Bigelow Laboratory.

All citizens are encouraged to be part of Ocean Sampling Day by simply downloading an app and sampling at a convenient saltwater location on Saturday.

The MyOSD App is free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store via T

here is also an OSD Video tutorial ( available on the website with instructions.

“We’re excited to be part of this global effort and encourage as many citizens as possible to join in this effort to learn about marine microbes, the tiniest and most important inhabitants of the ocean,” said Dr Nicole Poulton, a research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and leader of its OSD sampling effort.

“Marine microbes provide oxygen for every second breath we take and serve as the basis of the marine food web. This sampling effort will help us better understand what’s happening in microbial world of the global ocean. “

Obtaining enough water samples to accurately represent this vast ecosystem requires huge financial and logistical support, and this movement is an effort to leverage each coastal community’s abilities to contribute to the knowledge of the global oceanic ecosystem.

A citizen science initiative called MyOSD allows citizens to upload their own scientific measurements (environmental data like latitude, longitude, temperature, wind speed and others) to support the sampling scientists.

People around the globe are being asked to contribute on this day to compile a more complete data set. These data will help scientists to gain a better understanding of the global ocean and create a common pool of data to be shared among the international scientific marine research community and the public. All environmental data will be publicly available and will contribute to a major advance in marine research.

Genomics – the science of sequencing genes and understanding their meaning – is now being used to study biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in marine waters. Marine scientists are sequencing water from the global ocean with standardized methods for sampling, shipping, transferring data, and for bioinformatics analysis. OSD samples will be analyzed using genomics, with results that will help improve ecosystem knowledge, as well as sustainable use of marine genetic resources.

The OSD leader, Professor Dr Dawn Field from the University of Oxford said: “OSD is the first simultaneous sampling of the world’s oceans at a significant scale. As such, it is a historical event - and hopefully it’s just the beginning and may it continue in the future.”

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, an independent not-for-profit research institution on the coast of Maine, conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography to large-scale ocean processes that affect the global environment. Recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory’s research, education, and technology transfer programs are spurring significant economic growth in the state.

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