Per my promise in last week’s blog, I will start this week by giving you some highlights of our dredging trip on the Pluteus, OIMB’s research vessel. On Saturday, all of the REU interns along with our fearless leaders, Maya, Richard, and MacKenna, boarded the Pluteus at 8:00am to embark on a journey out to sea (a first for some of the students) to see what amazing organisms we might be able to find by dredging. Dredging is the process of collecting benthic organisms by dragging a basket along the sea floor for a short distance. Our first dredge proved the most fruitful, we pulled up a plethora of fascinating creatures including sea cucumbers (Cucumaria miniata), some sea stars that appeared to be from another planet known as basket stars (Gorgonocephalus eucnemis), and even a small octopus (which wouldn’t hold still long enough for me to get a good photo). On a second dredge over sandy substratum, we brought up thousands of juvenile sand dollars (Dendraster excentricus), which at their size would be more easily pictured if thought of as “sand dimes.” A few unlucky students spent part of the voyage staring at the horizon, attempting to hold down their breakfast, a malady that I was not completely immune to myself, despite having undertaken many such trips in the past.
After receiving in-depth and hands-on training during my first two weeks, this week I was given free reign, starting Monday, to begin working in earnest on “The Panama Project”. My work on this project will center around DNA barcoding the nemertean ribbon worms collected from Bocas del Toro, Panama. I will be giving more in depth descriptions of these procedures in the following weeks, as I can’t give away all the amazing stuff in just one blog post. As with last week, we interspersed our hard work with some play including a fourth of July picnic at Sunset Bay state park and more trips to collect food for our specimens from the docks.
My name is Becky, and I have been local to the Coos Bay and Charleston area for two years with my boyfriend David, and my dog Mojo. I moved to this area to complete my associate's degree at Southwestern Oregon Community College in anticipation of transferring to a four-year university. I now attend online at Oregon State University and I am planning a move to Bend, OR in August to continue at the OSU Cascades campus in order to finish my bachelor's degree in either natural resources or biology.