Tracking Fish Spawning and Growth in the Gulf of Mexico

Me holding the testes of a Spotted Seatrout

Hello! My name is Christina Clemens and I am going to be a senior at Trinity University in the fall. I am a biology major that originally found a passion for science in my hometown of Austin, Texas. This summer I have the opportunity to work in Dr. Erisman’s lab, and am involved in several different projects working on fish and fisheries science.

One of the projects I’m assisting with is studying the spawning patterns of Sheepshead. For this, we are taking already dead fish from surrounding filet stations in Port Aransas and examining their gonads to determine what stage of their reproductive cycle they were in at the time of their death. In addition, we are collecting samples of the different stages of gonads found in the filet stations to microscopically confirm the reproductive stage present. Another project I am working on involves aging fish based on otoliths, or ear bones. These ear bones are comparable to tree rings in that you can determine a fish’s age and rate of growth from the rings of bone growth. From this, we will compare the growth of these fish to changes in the Gulf climate over time. Lastly, I am involved with a project analyzing fish spawning sounds made by certain types of male fish when they are ready to mate. For this project, we will record the fish using an underwater microphone at different sample sites and then listen back to the audio files to determine the species and analyze the sounds to gain information on their spawning patterns. Together, all of these projects will definitely be keeping me busy, and I’m excited for all the work I’ll be doing this summer!

Otolith of a Corvina

My work space for aging otoliths

Microscopic view of a cross-section of a fish ovary

Microscopic view of a cross-section of a fish ovary

Posted in student projects

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