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How do we sample?

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All nine of us have a specific task once the boat stops at a station. Travis and Jeff collect water samples to bring back to TAMUG; the water samples are filtered in order to characterize the food web in the Gulf. We also gather environmental data, such as salinity and temperature at each station.

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Travis and Jeff collecting water samples

The bongo net and neuston net sampling methods are very similar. They only differ in mesh sizes—this allows us to catch different species along with fish of different sizes. Once the nets are brought on board, we thoroughly rinse all the fish to the bottom of the codends. Then the codends are emptied into a bucket, filtered through a net, placed in their station’s designated jar and preserved. The fish are identified back in Dr. Rooker’s lab at TAMUG.

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Retrieving the bongo nets Rinsing the net
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Emptying the codend Jarring the sample

 

If the fish is in good condition, it is brought to the dry lab and Kim takes a picture of it. Like this ribbonfish...

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Nina Pruzinsky is a graduate research assistant in Dr. Tracey Sutton's Oceanic Ecology Lab at Nova Southeastern University. She is interested in researching poorly-studied life stages/species/communities. By doing this, her goal is to provide information to conservation and management efforts that can be used to protect and maintain species populations. Nina gets the opportunity to work with fishes throughout the water column; she not only works with deep-sea fishes in Dr. Sutton's lab, but she also studies tuna early life stages in the epipelagic zone for her thesis. Nina's Master's thesis is entitled "Identification and spatiotemporal dynamics of tuna (Family: Scombridae; Tribe: Thunnini) early life stages in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico." This topic allows her to investigate the population dynamics of taxonomically-challenging early life stages of these ecologically, economically and recreationally important fishes.

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