Starting in the marine lab

Today is my fourth day in Maine.   We aren’t going out into the field today since there is a thunderstorm and tornado warning.  I suppose digging around in the ocean during a tornado might not be the safest idea, so I’m ok with staying in.  Brunswick is a little boring when you can’t go outside though.  It’s a pretty town with beautiful ocean accesses all around and woods everywhere.  There aren’t too many activities other than that that we have discovered yet though.

We were able to go to the lab and go to some sites on the coast the past two days though.  The lab is extremely impressive with an intricate sea-water pump to bring water up from the ocean for use in tanks.   Many of the tanks seemed not to have been seriously used or maintenanced in a while though so the majority of our work so far has consisted of cleaning out animals and sediment that have come to reside in various parts of the lab.   The process was very dirty and smelly and I have no idea what substances I may have accidentally ingested while starting siphons for cleaning tanks.  I may need to find a laundromat soon to deal with the smell of my clothes from just the last few days.  We’ve done a lot though and have the tanks we need ready for us to dirty them up again with our own experiments.

On top of the cleaning we’ve been able to go out during the low tides to look around.  The first day we went out we learned about the intertidal ecosystem and its main components.   We found several little starfish, crabs, snails, algae, and some urchins.   My advisor found an adult sea urchin and showed us how to kill and eat them.  It was somewhat disturbing watching it die and then immediately eating part of it knowing it had just been alive, but I did eat some and it was alright.   Not really something I would want to eat very often, but I guess if I’m ever stranded in a kelp forest now I can feed myself.  Yesterday we went out collecting mudsnails and dogwhelks for some of the other students’ projects.  They were everywhere and it took no time getting the amount we needed.

I’m getting anxious to start on my own project.  It’ll be nice once we’ve gotten settled in and really get into the research.  We are supposed to go and collect sand dollars next Wednesday so that will be exciting.  Everything has been great so far though; I’ve really enjoyed being at the marine lab and collecting specimens from the ocean.

Counting urchin juveniles at The Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research

Counting urchin juveniles at The Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research