So I’m back at William and Mary and back to conducting research in the ordinary lab. It’s sad not being in the coastal studies center and being able to go out and see the ocean everyday. There’s no more loud sea water pumps and no more daily collecting of animals. Back to mixing Insta-Ocean and getting animals shipped to us.
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.
Sand Dollars put out their gametes once a year when an environmental cue triggers them to start spawning. Once a few of them put out gametes, the others in the area will usually all start too. After several trials where we were unable to induce animals to release any usable eggs, it seems this behavior worked out poorly for us and that all of the animals we collected originally spawned out when we were not in the lab. So, more sand dollars were ordered from down east Maine (which is apparently Northern Maine).
Things are set up pretty well for my research. We’ve collected over 50 sand dollars and have successfully started spawning them. We’ve pretty much worked out the preliminary details and gotten the kinks worked out of the experimental design. Unfortunately, lately, right when I think I can start getting more data, something breaks. For instance the water heaters stopped working, the stirring rack broke, the thermometers went missing, and the algae died all over the past weekend. Every impediment has just been a minor one thankfully. It usually complicates the data I collect that day, but nothing major has happened.
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.