Bill and Tango’s 1st Day

1st day-Movie Click here for a movie of my first day (This movie will download.)

I arrived last evening and was quite surprised at the amount of activity going on at the lab. There are high students here taking courses and doing research. I sat across the table from a high school student who was engaged in research under the watchful eyes of the staff scientists. Excitedly he told me about his research. I thought to myself what a wonderful thing it was for him to have this opportunity.

Today, therefore, was the first day of my internship at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL). There were many introductions. I got to meet PhD. Jane Disney – Staff Scientist and Director, MDIBL Community Environmental Health Laboratory; Hannah- scientist and research assistant; PhD. George Kidder – head resident scientist; and  Shannon- another scientist and research assistant.

The first course of action was to plan out our week. This had to wait until our first day together because of two important factors. First of these was the “mystery” of why no eelgrass. Secondly the weather here in Maine is constantly changing so planning five days in advance is the best one can do.

It was decided that we would go “crabbing” in the morning and take water samples in the afternoon. George Kidder, PhD was to operate the boat while Jane Disney, PhD would pull the crab traps. I was to learn the ropes. You may recall one of the considerations in the planning was the lack of eelgrass. It is suspected that one of the causes of the grass disappearance was due to the crabs.

We collected crabs from inside and outside a test area the staff had fenced off. The fencing technique may need to be revised, as there were over 30 crabs of various sizes inside the crabs pulled from within the enclosure. A similar number were recovered from traps adjacent but outside the enclosure. While there we observed crabs climbing on the fence inside and outside the enclosure.

Crab data was collected and recorded. Jane explained to me that the green and red crab species we have here are considered to be in dangerous levels so the captured crabs were not returned to the wild. The center is conducting research on the red crabs so those are given to the scientist who is conducting research. The green crabs are humanely disposed of (frozen and then used as bio-compost).

In the afternoon we did water sampling at four locations around MDI. Several samples are drawn for testing dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and turbidity back at the lab. While on board the boat, standard site information is recorded such as location, water temperature, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, and water temperature. Then it’s off to a new location.

Once all the sites had been visited it was back to the lab. At the lab Jane explained to me the importance of good record keeping establishing and maintaining good rapport with the Department of Marine Resources (DMR).

The rest of the afternoon was spent processing the water samples in the lab. While doing this work Jane and I discussed several simple ways to make the data the center was collecting more user friendly.

It is interesting because during supper in the superb Dining Co-op I dined with one of the animal keepers of MDIBL. It was very informative to hear her speaking about the various systems here. We discussed her duties and what it was like to perform them. She informed me that this was a terrific place to work, the work was interesting and the scientists were fun people to work for.

It’s been an interesting first day so I’ll close for now. More tomorrow (weather report says rain, yuck!).

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