How strange to call this planet 'Earth' when quite clearly it is ocean. Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Summer Research Interns

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to mentor two high school students. For ten weeks, Nicole and Evan worked on a project to understand more about mussels and their dogwhelk predators from different sites in California and Oregon. They collected mussels with boreholes at intertidal sites, then cleaned and measured their size and thickness. They also measured the size of the boreholes to learn more about the dogwhelks that ate them. Dogwhelks eat mussels by drilling holes into their shells and slurping up the insides.

As my first high-school mentoring experience, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I was so impressed with these two! They were extremely hard-working and bright, and did an excellent job. I know they both will achieve great things post-high school.

Enjoy some photos of their project this summer!

Nucella egg capsules (the yellow things) at Soberanes Point in Big Sur, CA. We found these in one of our sampling plots.

This is where we raise the dogwhelks. Each cup contains dogwhelks from a particular plot at each site. The red cups contain egg capsules and baby dogwhelks born in the lab.

We set up a camera to look through a dissecting microscope to see the baby 
dogwhelks that had been born in the lab.

This is a baby dogwhelk, probably just a few days old. It is about 1 mm long. Babies metamorphose in the egg capsule, so when they hatch, they are look like mini adults. You can see the shell whorl and right through the shell to its eyespots! Ignore the random piece of blue fuzz near its head.

Another baby dogwhelk, about a few days old. The black dots are its eyes (or light-sensing organs, at least)!

Here we are doing the weekly check on the dogwhelk cups. This includes counting the adult dogwhelks, making sure they have enough food, and checking for new egg capsules. 

A bored mussel shell from Bodega to be measured. Can you find the borehole?