Welcome! My name is Tiffany Spendiff, I am a marine biology major that just completed my sophomore year at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA. Growing up in the San Juan Islands of Washington State I was surrounded by a rich marine ecosystem that served as my inspiration to enter this specific field of biology. My main area of interest is bivalves, particularly bivalve pathology.
For the next 9 weeks, I will be working with Dr. Richard Emlet studying larval-stage marine invertebrates. Week one has been focused on isolating larval bivalves from local plankton samples and observing their behavior. Earlier this week I had what I am calling a “defining moment” in my education: the opportunity to observe a newly fertilized oyster egg divide before my very eyes! I was opening an Ostrea lurida (Olympia oyster) specimen in hopes of determining if the local population was brooding. The very first one I opened was a female with eggs dispersed throughout her mantle cavity. To confirm these eggs had been fertilized, Richard and I examined them under the compound microscope and it was clear that these eggs were dividing and currently at the 2-cell stage.
The remaining eggs were extracted from the shell and placed in an incubator, then observed again 15 minutes later. They were up to 4 cells! I know this is happening all the time out in nature, but having the opportunity to observe it, the generation of an organism from just two cells, is magical to me. The following morning, they appeared to have at least 16 cells. I have half of the collected eggs in culture in an incubator, and the other half in stirred culture in a sea table, and I plan to continue monitoring and recording their progress.