Experimental crunch time

Since our experiments are highly dependent on when spawns of larvae are ready, once they were finally developed, we visited Martha’s Vineyard shellfish group to pick them up. I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard (MV for short) and was extremely excited at the prospect of getting on the ferry, especially since I hear MV was simply a more touristy version of Woods Hole and wouldn’t have went out of my way to visit there otherwise.

Martha's Vineyard ferry (Steamship Authority)

Martha’s Vineyard ferry (Steamship Authority)

Yup, looks like Woods Hole

Yup, looks like Woods Hole

Algae grown at the hatchery, which we took some with us to feed the oyster larvae

Algae grown at the hatchery; we took some with us for feeding the oyster larvae

After getting the larvae, which were collected on 200um filters so we have a lower size limit, we check for their competency to settle by looking for eyespots (which develop in late-stage larvae).

Can you see the eyespots?

Can you see the eyespots?

Since these larvae are already competent to settle, our experiments are extremely time-sensitive. We have to transfer them into bleached culture buckets, set up the airstone system, feed them, and start the experiment as soon as possible. We typically have 2-3 days after larval acquisition to perform the experiments, and multiple people in the lab take shifts to realize the continuous stint of data collection in these 2-3 days.

One million larvae transported on filter paper

One million larvae transported on filter paper

Jeanette and I adding larvae into the tank prior to experimental data collection. The camera is to the left of the tank and the laser is calibrated to the right. Photo by Tom Kleindinst

Jeanette and I adding larvae into the tank prior to experimental data collection. The camera is to the left of the tank and the laser is calibrated to the right. Photo by Tom Kleindinst

Safety first! This caution light always have to be on outside of our environmental chamber when the laser is turned on for data collection

Safety first! This caution light always have to be on outside of our environmental chamber when the laser is turned on for data collection

These laser goggles look pretty badass, no?

Don’t these laser goggles look pretty badass?

I have to admit that it was a tiring three days, but Lauren, our advisor, was super supportive, took quite a few shifts herself, and was kind enough to bring us food and munchkins (did you know that this was the “Timbits” of the US? so cute!). Additionally, after some level of sleep deprivation, random things become hilarious, so we had a pretty great time derping around the lab while waiting for the data to finish downloading after each collection (each dataset contains several gigabytes of images). Overall, the experiments went very well and we’ve successfully collected enough data to work on through the next few months.

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