Tuesday, April 12, 2016

First semester with my new family (+Damselfish)

This was my first semester as a member of this lab. I feel extremely lucky to be part of such a wonderful team that works so hard, but has a lot of fun doing it. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve gotten close to everyone! Although I’m really disappointed I was unable to travel down to the Keys with the team over spring break (and I’m unable to go in the summer), I still had quite the experience with animal care, presentations, research, and watching videos.
I actually didn’t think I would become so accustomed and confident in my animal care as quickly as I did. It was so cool that we had such a variety of animals this semester - including guppies, cichlids, bettas, crayfish, lobsters, hermit crabs, and urchins because of the behavioral ecology lab animals were kept with ours. Although I had heard quite a few scary stories about the crayfish and how they are “little devils”, I didn’t mind them too much! Sure, they did sort of freak me out sometimes when they jumped around and tried to escape, but only one ever escaped with me and it was quite the adventure to get him back in his crate. I actually love feeding the lobsters and crayfish to observe how they eat because it’s so fascinating. But I’d have to say I love the cichlids the best because they are so pretty and very aggressive whenever you throw their food in. They act like they are starving so they quickly inhale their food.
Aside from animal care, I had weekly meetings for short term and long term goals. The beginning of the semester was kind of overwhelming because I was new and had to learn everything about Damselfish for the first creative inquiry forum held in February. I was very thankful to have such an amazing partner, Randi, who was patient and helped me understand all the research she was learned and conducted so far. The forum was held in the Watt Center and was pretty fun! I was able to show off everything I learned to anyone who stopped by my poster. It also challenged me to know more and stimulated more questions concerning Damselfish.
I finally met and understood more of Bicolor and Dusky Damselfish personalities mid-semester as we watched many videos that were taken over summer 2015. While watching the videos, we noted the fish that entered the area, the time spent in view, and how the Damselfish in focus treated the visiting fish. Aside from the fact it took several hours to complete them, it was fun to watch the videos of the fish. It helped give me a better understanding of their personalities. But with each video I watched, I began to become more jealous of my teammates that actually get to travel down to the Keys over breaks because it’s so beautiful!

I love this creative inquiry and I’m excited for the fall semester. I can’t wait to see what new information we can discover from the field work that will be conducted over the summer.

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