Month: September 2015

[Field work] Beachseining from the fish perspective

On this golden-crisp early fall Friday morning (9-25-15), we went to our favorite spot again – Mumford Cove – to go beach seining. Thanks to the many helping hands – Chris, Jake, Elizabeth, Wes, Megan, and Hannes – we hand a ton of fun, while seeing a very diverse catch, among of course our target species – Atlantic silverside juveniles. These were measured on the beach and then preserved, and will ultimately become part of a larger study of the seasonal characteristics of survivors.

However, have you ever wondered what it must be like for fish to get caught in a beach seine. Well, thanks to Jake’s new GoPro and his ingenuity tethering it to the bag of the seine, here’s a glimpse (in HD). Enjoy!


Measuring and weighing the beach seine catch
Measuring and weighing the beach seine catch (f.l.t.r: Wes, Elizabeth, Megan, Jake, Chris)

A juvenile Northern Kingfish, Menticirrhus saxatilis
A juvenile Northern Kingfish, Menticirrhus saxatilis
Hermit crab needs new apartment
Hermit crab needs new apartment
Juvenile Winterflounder Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Juvenile Winterflounder Pseudopleuronectes americanus

Beach seining Mumford Cove 9-25-15

Elizabeth and Chris seining the Mumford Cove beach
Elizabeth and Chris seining the Mumford Cove beach

[Lab News] Laboratory silversides “becoming famous”!

Sampling day! On September 15th 2015, our lab concluded a long-term growth experiment on four large laboratory populations (500+ fish per tank) of Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia), which were reared at ambient and high CO2 levels and low temperature (17C) and feeding conditions. Given all the hard work rearing these fish from eggs to 4 month old juveniles, sacrificing them is always a bittersweet moment. To avoid the word ‘killing’, we therefore coined the euphemism “becoming famous”.

Thanks to Jake’s new GoPro, here’s a time lapse of all of us working for hours to sample, measure and preserve various parts of the populations for later analyses of weight, sex, as well as genetic and transcriptomic approaches.

Chris Murray measuring juvenile Atlantic silversides that were reared in our lab for the past four months
Chris Murray measuring juvenile Atlantic silversides that were reared in our lab for the past four months
Fish measurement party
Some fish were measured immediately, others were preserved in formaldehyde/seawater solution, frozen at -20C or -80C
Hannes Baumann measuring some the many fish that were sampled on 15 Sep 2015
Hannes measuring some the many fish that were sampled on 15 Sep 2015.

[Lab news] A summer research experience in the Baumann lab

Molly Hughes
Molly Hughes
Molly & Chris sampling fish larvae
Molly & Chris sampling fish larvae
Chris & Molly are measuring silverside adults used to fertilize the first experiment
Chris & Molly are measuring silverside adults used to fertilize the first experiment …

By Molly Hughes

This summer, I was lucky enough to work in the Rankin Lab at Avery Point. I’d been looking for an opportunity to gain lab and field experience in marine biology, particularly in fish ecology and hypoxia research. I could not have had a better experience than volunteering with Hannes Baumann and Chris Murray this summer. Their research combines issues of hypoxia, ocean acidification and fish ecology to give meaningful insight into the range of effects possible under a changing climate.

Volunteering in the lab, I was able to develop practical skills in fish biology that are already coming in handy in my upper level Ichthyology course. In the field, I learned how to use a seining net to catch specimens and identify target species. In the lab I participated in spawning fish, fertilizing eggs and day to day maintenance of larval fish and their environment.

However, just as valuable as practical skills is the perspective I gained from this experience. Before volunteering at the Rankin lab, I’d never considered the importance of creative thinking in research. When Hannes and Chris set out to study the combined effects of pH and oxygen levels on larval fish development, there was no starter kit available for them to do so. They had to create an entirely novel system, and only through resourcefulness and a lot of trial and error were they able to make their idea a reality. For me this meant days of drilling holes in five gallon buckets and hot gluing mesh over them. This was a creative solution to the problem of continuous water flow between the buckets within a tank. Its a comfort to know that my arts and crafts skills have relevance to my aspirations in marine biology.

I also walked away from this summer with an appreciation of the interconnectivity of the sciences and the importance of collaboration. When a fungal pathogen wiped out most of the larvae in the first trial of the Hypoxia/Acidification experiment, we were not equipped to identify it. Neither Hannes nor Chris specialize in mycology, but they were able to reach out to colleagues at Avery Point and Stony Brook who do. This is just one example of the many times I saw Chris and Hannes collaborate with scientists and engineers of different specialties this summer.
This being my first experience in a research environment, I was very fortunate to volunteer in a lab where I was able to gain such a wide range of skills and knowledge. I’m grateful to Hannes and Chris for introducing me to the research world and giving me the confidence to keep pursuing a career in marine biology.