One third of my time here at OIMB has now passed. As this week comes to a close, I find myself reflecting about the first three weeks of this program. So far, this has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much about what it means to be a researcher, met some incredible people, and developed my knowledge of marine biology, especially with respect to gelatinous zooplankton. I have quite enjoyed doing research thus far, which is encouraging since I plan to pursue biology research and teaching as a career. However, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that science takes a long time and nothing works perfectly the first time you try.
I spent the beginning of the week finalizing a protocol for analyzing high speed video. I also spent some time mapping out my research project so I have a sense of every piece of my project and how they all fit together. With my protocols in place and my setup finalized, I was in a position where I could start to collect data! I first did a few dry runs of my protocols to see what needed to be refined. I quickly found out that Pleurobrachia are not the most active swimmers. My setup and video capture protocol seemed to be fine, but I had a hard time collecting video of Pleurobrachia swimming. The jellies would often hover at the top or bottom of the tank for long periods of time without swimming.
This made it difficult to test my video analysis protocol and induced some anxiety about how long it would take to collect all the data I need. However, I was eventually able to work through this speed bump. I found a pretty consistent method for prompting the jellies to swim. This method involved picking up the tank and walking to the other side of the lab and back. The motion of carrying the tank seemed to consistently prompt swimming behavior from the Pleurobrachia. When the organisms hovered at the top of the tank, I tried carefully pushing them down to the center of the tank with a paintbrush, which also resulted in swimming behavior. In some cases, the Pleurobrachia started swimming without my prompting after a long time in the tank, and thus I realized that simply waiting for them to swim is also an option. These discoveries allowed me to refine my video capture protocol to account for the behavior of the jellies. I was then able to capture some test video of the jellies and refine my video analysis protocol. Once I had refined both protocols, I moved on to collecting data. I collected raw data from 2 of 15 Pleurobrachia at the end of this week. If everything goes well, I should be able to collect data from the remaining 13 by Wednesday of next week. I feel good about the progress of my project so far and I am excited to collect more data.
I’d also like to talk a little bit about social activities that I’ve been involved in here as I have done a lot more than just lab work. This past weekend we went camping at Sunset Bay and did some tide pooling at South Cove, which was incredible as I had never seen tide pools that extensive. On Monday of this week, two other interns and I went exploring and found this amazing hidden beach on the other side of a tunnel through the cliffs. This coming weekend, five of us will be heading down to the Redwoods to do some hiking and camping. I really enjoy spending time with my fellow interns; they are great people as I mentioned before.
I’d like to leave you with a test video of one of the jellies that I shot at the beginning of the week. I hope you enjoy watching these wonderful animals as much as I do.
My name is Wyatt Heimbichner Goebel and I am a marine biology major at Western Washington University. I love biology, specifically marine mammal ecology and biomechanics. I’m always up for conversations about music, poetry, and weird biology facts.