Hello Everybody! My name is Joe Frith and I have been interning here at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, FL for the past 2 months. I would first like to say “thank you” to Dr. Judy St. Leger, Eric, Kevin, Roy, Craig, Jon and the rest of the staff here at the Lab for giving me this opportunity and making this a meaningful experience. I’m currently an undergraduate at the University of Missouri-Columbia completing my degree in Fisheries and Wildlife with a minor in Biology. As a child growing up in the woods of Missouri I was always very intrigued by the natural world and usually had several different aquariums spread throughout my house at any one time. My interest in the aquatic world slowly evolved from freshwater aquariums to saltwater aquariums to eventually trying my hand at breeding the Bluestripe pipefish (Doryrhamphus excisus), which I had help with from Matt Pederson and the other members at MarineBreeders.org. It was back in February of this year, after reading posts on the Rising Tide blog that I decided to contact Dr. St. Leger about possible internships they may be awarding for the summer. I received an email shortly after and we soon started laying the groundwork for me to become an intern at TAL. What was once a dream was now a reality.
Over the course of this summer I have helped the Rising Tide team with a number of different projects ranging from Pacific blue tang and emperor angelfish spawning to water quality refinement in an attempt to increase spawning and overall health of all brood fish. Specifically I constructed an algae scrubbing device, complete with mangroves, which has made a significant impact on lower the nitrate levels in the fish growout system (the details of which will be discussed in a future blog). In addition I have learned a lot about the whole marine fish larval rearing process including egg collection, egg counting, stocking and density, and important first food items such as copepod nauplii and rotifers. And if I wasn’t working on any one of these projects I was traveling alongside Dr. Roy Yanong to one of the many aquaculture farms here in the Ruskin area.
This experience has opened my eyes even further to the wonderful world of aquaculture and I can’t think of any other way I would’ve rather spent my summer. With all of the knowledge and insight I have gained in the past couple of months I hope to continue on in this field and hopefully make some great discoveries.
Another big thanks to the Rising Tide team for such an awesome experience!