Corals and Aquaculture

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The CJ and Rick O’Connor and Clifford Family Coral Wet Lab provides hands-on research into marine biology for students and faculty in Biology, Marine Biology, and Captive Wildlife Care and Education majors. The wet lab is an integral component of marine biology courses in Marine Biology, Marine Botany and Coral Ecology and Management. Students maintain, help manage, and upgrade the facility in addition to its use in courses.

The Wet LabCoral Culturing

Here, students propagate a number of coral species using sustainable frag mounts created by Unity College staff and students. These mounts, made of fired porcelain, emulate traditional dead coral frag mounts but do not rely on massive harvesting of coral in the wild. Students are taught about each coral species preferences for optimal growth and best methods for propagation. When we have a species we do not know much about, students will experiment with the environmental conditions to determine whether a species preferred light intensity, ad other variables. In this way, we expand our knowledge of corals sustainably and gain the skills necessary to restore our reefs.

Plankton Culturing

Students will grow and maintain a number of phytoplankton species. The phytoplankton is used to feed zooplankton, which is then used to feed the larval stages of marine invertebrates e.g. Lysmata wurdemanni  or peppermint shrimp. Thus, students culture three trophic levels in one setting and can examine the interactions of each with each.

Gulf of Maine Tank

Students maintain and study Maine species of invertebrates in a tank carefully chilled to match the temperature of water in the Gulf of Maine. Species often include crabs, mussels, starfish, and sea urchins.

Project Tanks

Many of our Marine Biology, Biology, and Wildlife Biology courses involve lengthy projects. The wet lab has a bank of 12 10-gallon tanks which students use to study marine invertebrate organisms. All projects must be registered with the wet lab, and students must write up a small educational sign so visitors and other students may observe and learn. Recent projects have included a comparison of disturbed crabs and undisturbed crabs [to a novel crab encounter] and a study of snail movement (turning pattern, frequency and speed). New projects and updates frequently occur as the students propose new ideas.

The Wet Lab Mission Statement

The CJ and Rick O’Connor and Clifford Family Coral Wet Lab gives students the skills and knowledge to be successful environmental professionals and leaders, and to face the real-world challenges in Marine Biology.

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