I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I got to Port Aransas and I still love it the same as since I first arrived. Though some of the bugs can be freaky at times, but that does not take away from the relaxing atmosphere. It has been great getting to know my roommates and the other REU students more. We are all like a little family, we go out to dinner and a bunch of places together like the aquarium. Six Flags, and even a tattoo and piercing shop. I couldn’t ask for better people to experience this adventure into research and travel with!This previous weekend REU students from the environmental department at UT Texas came down to visit. It was nice meeting other students doing similar projects as us. On Friday night we all had a bonfire on the beach, which was super fun. It was a great way to get to know each other better, also they brought stuff for smores; which were uber yummy! The next day we all went out on the schools research vessel RV Katy. On the Katy we preformed a plankton tow, mud grab, and two otter trawls. All three were really cool, in each different marine organisms were observed. We got to see tiny phytoplankton to a baby shark!! Sharks has always been my favorite so it was great being able to catch a wild shark and hold it. Sadly though from being pulled in the trawl net for to long the baby black tip ending up passing away. I wonder what our next adventure will be.
The halfway point of the REU has been reached and my project has been going smoothly only with a few bumps here and there. I have met and spent time with all of my lab mates and they are all really friendly and helpful. Last week Dr. Erisman had a barbecue for everyone in the lab, it was a great way to get to know everyone better outside the work zone. I am finally done practicing aging otoliths and can now move on to age the otoliths from 2017!!! My research question for my project is: how does growth rate change as sheepsheads grow older? And the hypothesis: As a sheepshead gets older its growth rate will decrease. I have mounted all 230 otoliths have sectioned a little over half of the them, once I’m done sectioning then I will begin aging. Only a few have craked in half when removing them from the wood wedge, but its an easy fix. My main slip up with my project so far was slicing my thumb. When trying to extract a cross-section of a otolith the dissection scalpel slipped out of the wood and got my thumb. I did not really hurt at first, only after I saw a good a mount of blood come out, luckily but no stitches needed! I am still able to section otoliths, no worry can’t wait to start aging. Once all otoliths have been aged I get to work on my graph and statistical model which will tell us about the growth rate of the Sheepshead. Data analysis here I come see you in a week or so!
Thanks for reading!!