The summer is flying by! I have been working at the MarEx aquarium at Skidaway Island a lot since my last blog. I have learned so many things. I have been on reptile duty for a few weeks wihch includes cleaning the filters in the mud turtle, snapping turtle, and diamondback terrapin tanks, as well as providing fresh water for the snakes and lizards. I also get to feed these reptiles on occasion. At the aquarium I also help by cleaning protein skimmers and tanks and by feeding the fish. I went with the MarEx Aquarium to Beach Week on Tybee Island, which is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Our theme was marine debris education and I created posters, helped design an activity, and played a game to speak to beach-goers about marine debris. It was a lot of fun! The MarEx Aquarium has two loggerhead turtles on display. One of whom is a three year old named Rider and it will be released into the wild soon. I was also able to aid in some sea turtle husbandry this week. I helped take Rider out of the tank and carry it to a small pool outside so that Rider could have a sun bath. The aquarium has UV lights above Rider’s tank, but there is nothing quite like real sunshine! MarEx Aquarium also has weekly summer camps for kids. I was able to go fishing and trawling with the summer camp groups as a volunteer camp counselor. During the fishing trip my group caught: 18 sharks, 2 stingrays and a blue crab! The trawling trip was aboard the Sea Dawg, a MarEx vessel and we caught sharks, crabs, shrimp and various species of fish. I really enjoy spending time teaching children about marine and aquatic organisms.
This summer I have also been working with Dr. Marc Frischer, a SkIO faculty member. One of his graduate students, Ashleigh, is working on black gill shrimp research. She is doing mortality experiments on local shrimp to study black gill. Some shrimp get their gills infected with a ciliate which causes an immune response of producing melanin, thus turning the gills black. I help with daily shrimp counts where we check the shrimp for black gill and feed them. If a shrimp dies, it gets measured and the gills are preserved for future molecular work. I helped Ashleigh break down the first experiment last week, and then went on a collection trawl in order to start the second experiment. I was also able to go on a research cruise with the Frischer lab as well. SkIO has a research vessel called the Savannah and it has a huge A frame and J frame winches for trawling, plankton tows and CTD casts. We spent 2 days on the ship doing plankton tows and CTD casts looking for gelatinous plankton called Doliolids. We did not find any Doliolids on the cruise even though the water conditions were good. We did catch some ctenophores in the plankton tows, which was pretty cool. The research cruise was a blast.
I am looking forward to the last 3 weeks of my internship! I will be traveling to Pensacola, FL next week to do some diving (finally!).