Home From Maine

My summer of research is officially over.   It was a good summer full of lots of new experiences.  I spent a lot of time in the lab and feel happy with the amount of work I got done.  The crazy hours and long days were worth it in the end.  I made some good progress with my project.  We were successful in producing and rearing twins.  I didn’t get as much growth data as I would have liked but I still have lots of data to analyze and I ended up working on projects I hadn’t planned on.  So I guess it all evened out.

There were some unfortunate setbacks during the summer.   Spawning was a constant issue, at least 3 times our animals spawned out in the lab so that we could no longer use them and had to order more adults for experiments.  Larval rearing was tricky and many larvae unexpectedly died.  One of the worst problems though, was near the end of the summer when lightning struck the lab and caused the whole lab to have to shut down as the flowing sea water system no longer worked.  Unfortunately I never was able to get twins to develop to metamorphosis and ran out of time at the end of the summer.

During the times that I couldn’t work on my original project I got to work on a lot of things I hadn’t planned.  Some days that was digging in the mud to help other lab members look for snails or on many days I was able to work on different projects involving sea stars.  Having so many setbacks with the sand dollars actually helped me gain experience with some other projects and gave my advisor and me some time to come up with a new project on sea stars for my senior thesis.   So perhaps some of the problems benefitted me in the end!

Somewhere in between the 18 hour days and early morning low tides, there was also a lot of time spent doing non-research related tasks.  We frequently partook in “cake Fridays” and created some truly gorgeous and delicious works of art!   Perhaps our cake decorating skills explain why my lab group and I should stick to research and not art.  Because it was such a warm summer, swimming off the dock was a frequent occurrence as a break from research.  We also spent much time perfecting our fucus shooting skills. (Fucus is an intertidal algae that when squeezed shoots out a gooey substance perfect for getting the person closest to you dirty.) Playing on playgrounds, porcupine hunting, and eating lobster were also some of the activities you could find us doing if you were to stop by the marine lab this summer!

Overall it was a productive but still fun summer.   I’m excited to get back to campus to start on more work for my thesis.  I’ll be continuing the summer project some so that we can hopefully get more growth data and follow some twins through to metamorphosis.   I’ll also be able to start a new project looking into hybrid fitness of larval sea stars.  I had a great time and am sad to have to leave the Coastal Studies Center for good.  I feel very lucky to have gotten the chance to go though and will remember the summer fondly.