Zooplankton biologists use various tools to monitor planktonic communities. A useful and simple instrument used by scientists is the non-opening Bongo net.
The Bongo net consists of two plankton ring nets mounted next to one another on a marine grade stainless steel frame, featuring differing mesh widths to enable scientists to work simultaneously with two samples from both chambers.
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The Bongo net is a pair of plankton nets mounted side by side on a stainless steel frame and fitted with mechanical flow meters for each net, enabling scientists to work with two separate filtration ratios within one towed tow.
These nets are towed obliquely through the water column to collect zooplankton from the euphotic zone. They feature 71 cm bridle-less ring nets with open centers and detachable cod ends for collection of this vital micronutrient.
Towed samples are then frozen for further analysis in the laboratory, while bongo net deployment requires teamwork and communication among scientists, winch operators and res techs on board the ship. Once in the water, nets are weighted with cable lines attached to winches.
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Bongo nets are used to collect samples from the euphotic zone – the very top layer of ocean waters – using 505-mm mesh nets with 71 cm openings and cod ends, each one 3 meters long with 1.5-m long cylindrical portions connected by tapering cones that taper towards their codends; they feature one self-contained LOPC mounted at each port opening while flow meters are situated on opposite starboard sides of their mesh openings.
Samples collected at the cod end of each net are volumeted, sorted for ichthyoplankton and zooplankton species and preserved with formaldehyde for future analysis. A weight attached to the frame secures each net while it is being towed.
Bongo nets are horizontal plankton nets pulled horizontally through the water column. Towed by cable attached to a winch and weighted at their base to keep them from dragging on the ocean floor, bongo nets can catch large volumes of planktonic debris quickly without damaging fragile ocean floors.
Once the bongo net reaches the depth that scientists want it, a survey tech will radio the winch operator and ask him or her to lower it more slowly than normal in order to maintain a 45-degree angle between wire and net mouth opening, which allows water to flow directly into its mouth opening. A scientist in the data room will continuously record this angle with a device called a clinometer.
Once the net is pulled in, zooplankton passes through cod ends (small cups at the ends of nets) to be collected into formaldehyde-preserved codends for analysis and preservation. Once collected, samples are volumed, sorted for both ichthyoplankton and zooplankton species, archived at both SIO Pelagic Invertebrate Collections as well as NOAA SWFSC Ichthyoplankton Collections before being archived in formaldehyde for preservation before being archived at their respective collections for long term analysis and preservation.
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Bongo net tows consist of two long mesh nets connected by cod ends; the starboard net serves as the principal source for collecting ichthyoplankton samples while port net serves other purposes. When returning to land, cod ends are secured before samples are volumetrically collected, preserved in formaldehyde or ethanol and sorted for counting and identification purposes.