Flats Ecology Research

Mickey and Rennie chop up conch slop for bonefish feed

Fish husbandry – In order to maintain the large stock of bonefish in the wet laboratory the fish must be fed, tanks cleaned and monitored on a daily basis for any inconsistencies in water quality.  Students learned that this ensures the fish stay in good health and therefore provide accurate and consistent data between treatments. This involved Kearney and Makayla using multiple water quality meters to record dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, and temperature in the holding tanks and acclimation tanks.  They determined if there have been any substantial changes in water quality between days. Feed consisting of sardines, conch slop (the inedible parts of the conch obtained from local fisherman) and commercial feed keeps our puffer fish, schoolmaster snapper and bonefish in mint condition. Sean demonstrated a great appetite for feeding the fish (excuse the pun).

Bonefish dissections – Flats ecology research group conducted a bonefish dissection in conjunction with a visiting program from Friends Seminary.  The Island School Flats Research team presented on the importance of climate change and the potential effects on flats ecosystems to this visiting group.  Students learned side by side to identify external and internal anatomy, common length measurements,  and adaptations that these fish possess in order to survive in their environment. All students in the flats team had no problem getting their hands dirty and were excited to share their knowledge about bonefish with our visitors!!!

Our final piece of a fun filled week was the critical thermal maximum experiments (CT Max). This has been developed to investigate the thermal tolerances of fish before they lose equilibrium (i.e. roll over in their individual totes). Testing this over different seasons can provide us with an indication of the changes in tolerances of the fish to external ambient temperatures.  This entailed the students observing different fish and counting their operculur movements as the temperature increased.  After the bonefish lost equilibrium, they were slowly reacclimated to ambient water temperatures and placed into a holding tank.

Overall the Flats ecology research project has covered some very serious science and has done incredibly well in the first few weeks. We would like to congratulate our team.

Well done to Rennie, Olivia, Mickey, Makayla, Kearney, Sean and Jake!!

Zach describes the respirometry system to Sean