Last week was our week off, so I went home to visit family and friends. It felt good to be home and I was able to talk to them about what I had experienced thus far this summer during my internship. I also enjoyed spending time with my family on Independence Day. However, I was not too reluctant when I had to leave to come back to Kentucky because I was ready to start working again. I arrived back at the Center for Ohio River Research and Education on Sunday afternoon and spent the rest of my day unpacking and preparing for the upcoming week.
This week we are continuing to sample the Ohio River near the power plant with hoop nets and gill nets. We placed the nets at our four sample locations on Monday. As a reminder, our sample sites consist of two sites below the power plant and two sites above. While setting our nets on Monday, we ran into a multitude of issues. To start with, our main research vessel (the Sea Arch) was supposed to be out of the garage, but the mechanics did not finish the repairs on time. Consequently, we had to use our other research vessel (the Roughneck). We felt good about taking the Roughneck because it had recently been repaired and the engine was running well. When we began our seven-mile trek to the power plant, we immediately noticed engine malfunctions. We were able to conclude that the problem was a bad fuel line. Fortunately, the field station is not far from the nearest boat shop and Dr. Lorentz was able to purchase a new fuel line. With the new fuel line installed, we motored upstream to the power plant. When we arrived at our first site, we attached an anchor line, buoy line, and tree line to the hoop net and set it in the water. We repeated this process for our remaining three sites. That evening we checked our hoop nets and set a gill net at each location.
Over the past few days, we have continued to check our nets in the morning and evening, collect water quality parameters, and process our DNA samples. So far, we have sampled longnose gar, gizzard shad, silver redhorse, blue catfish, river carpsucker, smallmouth buffalo, blue gill, longear sunfish, skipjack herring, and several other fish species in our nets this week. In the lab, we have finished sequencing our DNA samples. This is important because it enables us to check for correct fish identification, fish hybridization, and provides samples for an online database for researchers known as the Fish Barcode of Life initiative (FISH-BOL). The FISH-BOL database is a global effort to develop a reference library for all fish species. In theory, a handheld device will be constructed that will have the ability to be a barcode reader of tissue samples. Once the device reads the tissue sample, it would be relayed instantly to the FISH-BOL database. The database would then respond with the specimens name, photograph, and description. This type of technology would be beneficial to any potential user. On Wednesday, we were scheduled to have Dr. Erik Pilgrim from the US EPA give a seminar about DNA Barcoding and other genetic tools used in aquatic ecology. Unfortunately, Dr. Pilgrim was not feeling well and the seminar has been rescheduled for a later date. We are going to finish this week with pulling our nets and preparing them for the next time we use them.
Thanks for reading,