A Yalie’s Tale

On our ill-fated last cruise, we had the good fortune to sail with two volunteers from Yale, an undergraduate senior and a graduate student. What is our connection with Yale? Why, our very own Jellyfisher is a research scientist at Yale who occasionally teaches of biological oceanography, and drummed up the extra hands for the cruise. Both of our guests were welcome additions to the team and one contributed the following post about her experience. It is unedited, and as soon as we figure out how to transfer the many pictures she took with her fancy camera we’ll get those up too.  Jessica, take it away…

My name is Jessica Price and I currently a master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. I was invited to go on the September research cruise by my professor Dr. Mary Beth Decker.  Even though I have never been on a research cruise and do not know much about marine ecosystems, I knew I could not refuse the amazing opportunity to learn about the research that is being done. Upon boarding the ship, I was welcomed by everyone. They not only answered my questions and taught me about the methods they use to collect data; they also made me feel so comfortable being on the ship. I really enjoyed helping them whether it was to set nets out in the water or measure fish from the mid-water trawl.

While at the South station, we set Z-traps, the Mocness, mid-water trawls, jelnets, and net tows. We caught fish, crabs, jelly fish, shrimp, and squid in the mid-water trawl. After catching them, we recorded the species name, species abundance, and their weight. I found this catch really interesting because it allowed me to learn more about the species that are common in the Chesapeake Bay. It was fun trying to hold on to the fish while measuring them. When we went to the North station we did the same thing as we did while at the South station (z-traps, Mocness, mid-water trawls, jelnets, and net tows). However, upon bringing up a jelnet, we discovered a great surprise. We caught a large moon jelly in one of our jelnets. It was so beautiful to see. What is even more exciting is that there was a spider crab feeding on the moon jelly. According to past studies, this is a chance encounter that few people get to see. I found it fascinating because I am currently working on predator prey interactions between birds and fiddler crabs in salt marshes.

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short because of engine problems. It would have been interesting to see what other data could have been collected at the North station.

I tried to take many photos while I was aboard in order to share with people because I know that trying to understanding how research is done is sometimes hard if you have never worked in the field. I did not understand how their data was collected until I was there watching and helping them. Below you will find a slideshow of some of the photos that I took while on the research cruise. I hope you enjoy them. Thank you so much (to everybody on the ship), the food was wonderful, the crew was great, and you all are hilarious. Keep smiling 🙂 !

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About planktoneer

I'm a zooplankton ecologist who studies how individual behaviors and variability affect populations of copepods in marine and estuarine systems.
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