Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Megan: First Few Weeks

Hello! My name is Megan Peavey and I will be a senior next fall at the University of New Hampshire studying Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology. I am very excited to be working with NH Sea Grant as a Doyle Fellow this summer. I am working with two mentors in fisheries and aquaculture – Michael Chambers and Gabriela (Gabby) Bradt. In the first few weeks, I have already learned so much and I’ve started some different projects that I will share with you!

One project I’ve been working on with Michael Chambers and a few others this summer is an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) of rainbow trout, blue mussels, and seaweed at the UNH aquaculture site off the coast of the Coastal Marine Lab in New Castle, NH. The goal of this ongoing project is to investigate sustainable aquaculture practices in the NH area, as well as get local fisherman involved in utilizing aquaculture to augment their wild catch. So far, we have received the fish from the hatchery in Ossipee, NH and placed them within nets we coated with blue “anti-fowling” paint underneath the Judd-Greg Research pier. Using the anti-fowling paint helps prevent other organisms (such as algae, tunicates, bryozoans, etc.) from colonizing on the nets and reducing the efficiency of the system. We feed the fish a moist diet that is designed to help the fish transition from fresh to salt water twice a day. Once the fish get a bit larger, we will transport them to the UNH aquaculture site location.

As for the blue mussel and seaweed components of the project, we are cleaning off old mussel lines and preparing the new ones to collect the mussel spat (mussel larva that has attached to a surface). Sugar kelp is the species of seaweed usually grown and it is a winter crop, meaning it is grown all winter and harvested in the spring. Although sugar kelp grows well in the winter, it doesn’t grow as well in warmer temperatures and too many epiphytes grow upon it during the summer months making it unsuitable for summer. Last week, we collected two types of seaweed from Fort Stark: Gracilaria and Irish Moss. We are investigating the possibility of growing these two species in the summer alongside the blue mussels and rainbow trout.
Gracilaria (thin red seaweed) and
Fucus species (green thicker seaweed)
Irish Moss

With Gabby Bradt, I’ve been working on a project focusing on the European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas). These crabs are an invasive species that were introduced from Europe in the 1800s, and again in the 1900s. By now, they have become well established along the East Coast of the U.S. and are detrimental to our ecosystems here, devastating populations of mussels, clams, and other species. This is not only a problem for ecosystem structure, but also economically for fishermen and clam diggers. The goal of our project is to better understand molting behavior and look for morphological cues for molting in green crabs. With this information, we hope to create something similar to the soft-shell industry for blue crabs. After molting, crabs are in the soft-shell stage, and at this point they are usually fried or cooked in a variety of ways, and eaten. Although this is common practice for blue crabs, it isn’t with green crabs. Since green crabs are fairly small, they are more marketable as a soft-shell crab than a whole crab that a chef would have to pick the meat out of. The idea is that one way to control the population of European Green Crabs would be to eat them, similar to projects in Florida that aim to control lion fish populations that are out of control.

So far we have collected 100 female crabs, and 12 male crabs at the Hampton Public Pier in Hampton, NH to use in our experiment. We are conducting the experiment in two outdoor tanks at the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory in Durham, NH. 50 of the female crabs are in one tank - 25 are controls, with nothing done to them except for tagging, while the remaining 25 have scratched carapaces along with their tags. All remaining crabs (50 females and 12 males) are in a tank together to observe if pheromones from different sexes have any influence on molting.

Green Crab from control group

Trap used for catching crabs @ Hampton Pier
Green Crab from experimental (scratched carapace) group

In the past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about experimental design and how to adapt when something doesn’t work or needs to be adjusted. I have also learned all sorts of marine skills from knot tying to net repair, and I’m sure this is only the beginning and it has been a whirlwind first few weeks. Stay tuned for an update on these to projects as well as others to come!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 Molly: First Impressions

Hello everyone! My name is Molly McGovern – I am very excited and grateful to be working with NH Sea Grant on the Healthy Coastal Ecosystems projects as a Doyle Fellow this summer. Working alongside intern Myrilla Hartkopf, I am mentored by the awesome Alyson Eberhardt: Coastal Ecosystems Specialist for NHSG and UNH Cooperative Extension.

This fellowship will provide an enriching transition into my senior year at the University of New Hampshire as an Environmental Conservation Studies major. Growing up in New Jersey I was always captivated by the ever-changing coastal and marine ecosystems. Now that I have lived in New Hampshire since 2013, I have learned a lot not only about the ecosystems themselves, but also humans’ role in understanding and conserving them. 

I am excited to gain valuable experience in habitat restoration field work techniques as well as how to communicate successfully with communities and volunteers. There are three sand dune restoration projects that we will be working on this summer, each requiring communication with a diverse group of stakeholders and volunteers from the community and nearby schools. I am especially excited to be part of the beginning stages of a riparian buffer restoration project at the Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club. This will involve water quality monitoring as well as surveys of vegetation communities. I will also have the chance of helping with NH Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteers’ projects which include eel monitoring, oyster restoration and beach microplastics monitoring.

Already, I’ve had the chance to participate in several of these projects in the field. My first day on the job was a perfect introduction to the NH Sea Grant world: a baseline fish survey of Lubberland Creek in the rain. We had a great posse of samplers including representatives from the Nature Conservancy, NHSG’s Coastal Research Volunteers, and even Dave from the podcast “Fish Nerds”. Trudging through the vegetated upper creek down into the salt marsh with sein nets and buckets, we identified, counted and measured fish species at several sites along the transect. I learned a lot about how the natural community can shift drastically in such a relatively small area in estuaries, as well as how to collect data for fish monitoring. Check out NHSG's flickr account for more photographs of the field day, as well as other photos of NHSG happenings: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhseagrant/

Me, Alyson and two volunteers scour through the caught debris to find and measure fish on Lubberland Creek. Photograph taken by Becky Zeiber
My second day in the field and Myrilla’s first was at Hampton Beach State Park where Dover High School students brought beach pea plants they propagated at their greenhouses. They helped us plant the beach pea along with American beachgrass in the restoration area. It was awesome to meet younger people excited to learn about plants, dunes and the restoration project.

For the past two weeks Myrilla and I have been helping plant American beachgrass and other native dune plants on Plum Island for the Newbury sand dune project. We have had a solid team of ladies putting plants in the ground everyday, hoping to beat the heat and get as much area planted as possible. Check out Myrilla’s first post to learn more about our experiences with the dune projects so far.
An average day planting beachgrass on Plum Island, Newbury, MA (Photograph by Natalie Feldsine)
One of my favorite experiences so far has been the eel monitoring, carried out by NHSG Coastal Research Volunteers. Alyson’s extensive knowledge has opened my eyes to how amazing eels are, and how important it is to communicate that information to people - especially those whose lifestyles and decisions affect the eels. 

I am really looking forward to working with more volunteers and community members on these projects. Science is very important, but being able to communicate it is even more vital. As the weeks continue I know I will learn more about how to successfully do so! 

In the next few weeks we will continue working in the dunes, as well as starting work on the riparian buffer project. I’m curious to meet the other NH Sea Grant and NH Cooperative Extension interns to learn more about their projects for the summer. Look out for an update in the near future!


First Week At Sea Grant

Hello, all! My name is Myrilla Hartkopf and I’m a junior at the University of New Hampshire, studying Environmental Conservation and Sustainability with a concentration in Marine conservation. I’m excited to join UNH Cooperative extension and NH Sea Grant family as the Costal Habitat Restoration intern this summer. I will be working with Alyson Eberhardt and the other intern, Molly McGovern, collaborating active outreach and education for the public to incorporate healthy ecosystems in the local communities.

One project I will be working on this summer is Sand Dune Restoration plan to help rebuild and restore the sand bars along the coast. This project incorporates four towns of Hampton and Seabrook NH, and Salisbury and Newburyport, MA. Sand Dunes are important to the costal ecosystem because they provided a natural buffer from storm events and protect the coastline against flooding and erosion associated with storms. The dunes at these sites have been self-sustaining and highly functioning system but with the rapid development on the coastline have destroyed most of the dunes and what remains are weak patchy areas along the coast. This is where we come in! I will be working with other interns planting beach grass in the dunes to help re-vegetate and resort portions of the dunes associated with storm impacts and public access. With this project I will help with the revegatation program engaging community members and NH Sea Grant’s Costal Research Volunteers to help educate and increase their understanding of the threats to costal sand dune habitats and the role of human actions have on them. With this education, it will encourage a stronger connection between connecting citizens to the natural resource issues. I’ve already got my hands deep in the sand with planting but here is lots more to do and can’t wait for beach field days to start rolling!

Along with the Sand Dune restoration I will also have the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects like eel monitoring in the Oyster River and also working with local Hampton golf course to help develop habitat restoration site plan for imputing a buffer systems for them. So make sure to check out Molly’s Blog for more information about the buffers!

It sure is going to be a busy summer full of exciting new projects but summer spent on the water is something I can’t complain about! Stay tuned for more about my summer as we hit the beaches next week for more planting.

Summer 2015

New Hampshire Sea Grant would like to welcome our Doyle Fellows and UNH Cooperative Extension intern for the summer.

Meagan Peavey will be mentored by Michael Chambers in Aquaculture, Molly McGovern and Myrilla Hartkopf will be mentored by Alyson Eberhardt in Healthy Coastal Ecosystems.

All three of our UNH undergraduates have already jumped in with great enthusiasm. Follow their stories and experiences during this eight-week fellowship.