Week three flew by too quickly. Starting the week with a boat trip. Although we all have gotten out to the tide pools countless times, most of us are unfamiliar with the local organisms found on the sea floor. We found tons of creatures using a dredge which is a device designed to be dragged along the bed of a body of water for collection of objects. Some of my favorite finds were the sea cucumber, sand dollars, a small octopus, a few sea stars, and three tiny sea slugs!
I spent half of the boat trip with my eyes on the horizon, attempting to distract myself from feeling sea sick. I’ve been told that most people can acclimate, so I’ve got my fingers crosses that my body will accept boat trips in time. I was on the look out for whales though, and had friends who sang to distract our minds and brought us saltine crackers. All in all it was a lot of fun!
As far as my research project goes, each day holds something new! Taking care of my Opalescent nudibranchs has been a learning experience in and of itself. Right now I have only a handful that are isolated in their own container, and the rest are sharing a space with at least one other of their kind. I’ve watched them take bites out of each other, lose over half of their cerata in a day (the dorsal outgrowths on their backs), completely disappear due to a hungry roommate, and even be attacked while trying to lay egg ribbons.
One goal of mine has been to solidify and collect evidence of the interactions between the juvenile Dungeness crabs and the Opalescent nudibranchs that I have observed so far. Alan has been helpful in reminding me to document even the small experiments I set up. In order to successfully develop a scientific research project, the data is essential in order to conclude anything at the end of an experiment.
The defensive adaptations of the Opalescent nudibranch are well studied, so my previous question has taken another turn. After rerunning previous experiments, I noticed that the behavior of the juvenile Dungeness crabs had changed. In the 8 isolated encounters I observed between a nudibranch and a crab, the crab froze and didn’t show interest in the pieces of mussel, which these crabs usually love to eat. Instead the nudibranch ended up consuming the mussel in all of my observed experiments.
This made me wonder how the presence of Hermissenda crassicornis (Opalescent nudibranch) affects a juvenile Dungeness crabs desire to eat. I’ve been working on the experimental design, in order to minimize the variables within my experiment, and make sure that I will be able to collect sufficient data over the next several weeks. I have a feeling that this coming week will be packed full of experimental set up. That’s about it for this week, come back next Monday for an update on my project!
Many people will say that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself into a community where that language is spoken. I’ve been at OIMB less than a week and already the amount of ideas, techniques, and information I’ve absorbed has exceeded my expectations, as though I am learning a new language to better grasp and comprehend science.