Mentor & labs: Ilysa Iglesias, Fietcher and Lamborg Labs

Positions: 1-2 interns

Tentative dates: July 3rd-31st

Project Location: Santa Cruz (Biogeochemistry lab on main campus)

Project Background: Below the sunlit upper waters of the ocean lies the mesopelagic zone; home to the greatest abundance of fishes on earth (between ~200m-1000m depth.) Despite the significance of mesopelagic fish as prey to many commercially important species (tuna, swordfish, rockfish amongst others), there are many things we still don’t understated about their ecological role. At the depths that mesopelagic fish inhabit, they are susceptible to elevated concentrations of mercury and are believed to a major pathway for anthropogenic mercury entering into marine food webs; in turn passing on that mercury to the predatory fishes that we depend on for food (tuna, swordfish, rockfish etc.). In this project, we collected Lanternfishes (family: Myctophidae) from along the California coast in different years that had varying oxygen conditions, to determine whether low oxygen may contribute to increased mercury in mesopelagic fishes.

Intern duties: The CAMINO intern will be expected to aid in the dissection of Lanternfishes (small deep-sea fish). Dissections will include learning about the different parts of a fish, taking length and weight measurements, removing otoliths, examining stomach contents and removing muscle tissue for analysis. Secondly, the CAMINO intern will be trained on how to use a DMA-80 mercury analyzer to determine how much mercury these fish have in their tissues. Additional lab work includes: prepare the tissue samples for processing, weighing out the correct amount of tissue, running the actual machine and recording the associated data. There is also opportunity for the CAMINO intern to develop their own individual project within the framework of this labwork. Potential ideas include: comparing different species of Lanternfish, looking at the stomach contents of Lanternfish themselves, comparing different tissues for mercury levels, etc.

Intern qualifications: I am looking for a student who has a willingness to learn and ask questions! General interest in deep-sea ecosystems, fisheries, contaminants or oceanography all welcomed. I am happy to teach you all of the skills you will need to successfully complete this project, but previous lab work experience is a plus. I work predominantly in R, so if you are additionally interested in taking on more of a programming role there are opportunities to do so as well.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
I would love the chance to meet at least once prior to the start of the project, but other than that we can cover everything we need in the month of July.