Most students spend their summers working odd jobs or catching up on much-needed rest, but a group of doctoral students in the FIU Marine Sciences Program recently took part in a research cruise along Florida’s west coast.
Going out 100 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, the eight students were exposed to a variety of genetic sampling and acoustic tools and techniques used to evaluate biodiversity and distributional patterns of marine invertebrates and fishes.
“This was my first experience on a research cruise, it was really fun,” said Jorge Luis Perez-Moreno, a student studying evolutionary biology in Bracken-Grissom’s lab. “It was amazing because we learned how to handle everything we collected in the field back in the lab, and it was a great complement to the traditional lab setting.”
As part of Bracken-Grissom’s techniques in biological oceanography workshop, the students collected 50 different species of invertebrates and decapods, including crabs, shrimps and lobsters. Once back in the lab, they then used DNA barcoding and sequencing to identify and classify these species.
As part of the Boswell’s fisheries acoustics workshop, the students used hydroacoustic tools to examine water chemistry. They also deployed GoPro® cameras to view approximately 20 species of pelagic and benthic fishes, including bat fishes, sea robins, flat fish, frog fish, puffers, porcupine fish and sharks.
“For people who are interested in or will spend time in research vessels, this was a great opportunity to ask questions and spend time on details that you might otherwise not get to do in a traditional research cruise,” said Diana Churchill, a Ph.D. student studying food web ecology in the Heithaus Lab. “The department offers some great, hands-on workshops that give students an opportunity to get practical experience they can put towards successful research. This class is a great example of that.”