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NCBS Intern Report: Shellfish Restoration

Written by 2019 Summer Intern Caroline Barnett, with hosts Peter Frederick from UF IFAS Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Leslie Sturmer from UF IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture 

Part of my internship was working in Cedar Key with Leslie Sturmer, Natalie Simon, and Reggie Markham. I have learned so much from this incredible team of hardworking individuals and they make coming into work a joy every day.

How To Shuck An Oyster (And How Not To)

The first way to shuck an oyster is to not get mad and throw it; I learned that the hard way. One should consider wearing gloves to avoid cuts and scrapes. Having an actual shucking knife will also help the process immensely. Grasp the oyster firmly in your hand. I am supposed to take the shucking knife in my other hand, with the curve of the tip pointed up, and lever open the umbo of the oyster until I feel it pop open (or until I break the shell into a thousand pieces and have to try again). Then I flip the knife over with the curve pointed down and run it along the top of the shell to dislodge the mantle and adductor muscles as best I can. It took me about 10 tries and one projectile shell piece to the eye for this to look presentable and that I didn’t intestinally take a hacksaw to it. Then I start over. I have to say, after doing this 30-50 times it gets easier. People were not kidding when they said “practice makes perfect” or in my case practice makes decent.

 

The Art Of The 5am PB&J

An important aspect of fieldwork is always being prepared. I had the privilege this summer of working with the NCBS team and the opportunity to learn more about shellfish and aquaculture. Doing so, this requires fieldwork and long days on the boat traveling to different sites. For the other part of my internship, I got to work with Peter Frederick’s lab including Kwanmok Kim, Steve Beck, Tyler Ring, and Annalee Tweitmann. I spent a lot of time on Annalee’s project which looks at intertidal and subtidal oyster samples in open and closed environments. So, what does this have to do with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

A lot surprisingly.

This is a skill that is practiced and perfected throughout the internship. Marine science field days are usually dependent on tides and weather, which means sometimes that alarm is going to go off pretty early. You have to think on your feet. What is easy to assemble at 5 in the morning as you shuffle through the kitchen and attempt to not wake any slumbering roommates. I can proudly state that I make a pretty good PB&J regardless of how tired I am and that despite the wakeup, there is nothing like an early start on the water.

 

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