Hello again, readers! Happy post-Independence Day (and Canada Day, for our friends to the north)! Monday marked the beginning of my trial looking at the effects of diets on growth and molt intervals in juvenile Dungeness crabs; setup seemed straightforward, as it included finishing labeling the sixty-five containers to hold the crabs, moving the crabs into them, taking pictures of each crab, and then feeding them. However, this turned out to be a more grueling task than anticipated; after putting in 14+ hours of work in the lab and going to bed around midnight on Monday, I was extremely grateful to have most of the day off on Tuesday. OIMB hosted a large picnic and barbecue at Sunset Bay, which included delicious food and a surprising amount of volleyball. In the evening, we went to Coos Bay to watch fireworks on the boardwalk. For those of you who have not experienced fireworks in a coastal city, it is definitely worth checking out. It was a fantastic show.
This week also included a half-day dredging trip on the R.V. Pluteus, OIMB's research vessel. Though several of us experienced some sea-sickness, the trip was a great experience, and we found a wide variety of marine organisms on the ocean floor at depths between 80 and 200 feet, including several sea cucumbers, large basket stars, a leather star, numerous live sand dollars, sponges, and a small octopus! It is interesting to see how the diversity at the bottom differs based not only on depth, but also on substrate type (sandy as opposed to rocky). Not surprisingly, the rocky bottom at greater depths supported a much wider variety of life, whereas the sandy substrate contained mostly sand dollars.
On Wednesday, we had lunch with the manager of South Slough Estuarine Reserve and grilling her with questions on everything from work experience to deciding on a major and applying to grad school. We also listened to a talk on the use of professional media (including Twitter, believe it or not) in networking with peers and other researchers in a variety of scientific settings. To end the day, we attended a seminar on “mating choices in promiscuous fish,” which informed us about the reasons behind the preferences of various fish species in choosing their mates. As it turns out, fish can be very choosy; this may be genetically determined, or may have more to do with coloration and size of potential mates, and may be influenced by social cues. In species such as salmon, which essentially engage in “spawning frenzies,” preferential mating can be difficult to document, which is where the use of genetic tools comes in extremely useful.
The rest of the week primarily consisted of monitoring my experiment, and adjusting the diets or tank conditions based on observations. All seemed to be going well until I came into the lab Friday morning to discover that twenty of my crabs were immobile on their backs. The exact cause was unknown, but may be due to a problem in one of the meat diet treatments. I’ve changed their food and started using filtered water with more aeration. Hopefully nothing like this will happen again. It’s frustrating and discouraging to have major die-offs, but it is an inherent part of the experimental process. Here’s to discovering flaws early, and to better experimental design!
Thanks for reading. Cheers!
Hey, readers! My name is Zade Clark-Henry. I'm from Salem, Oregon, and I'm an undergraduate student majoring in Natural Resources at Oregon State University, with an emphasis ecological studies, specifically forest ecosystems and ecological restoration. I'm interested in all types of science, but especially life sciences, and within that I'm most interested in ecological interactions between organisms. My non-academic interests include playing music, hiking, camping, exploring, kayaking, reading, and drinking tasty espresso.