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Journals 2003/2004

Deborah Field
South Windsor High School, South Windsor, Connecticut

"Age and Growth of Pelagic and Large Coastal Sharks Using Vertebral Growth Bands"
NOAA Fisheries- Narragansett Laboratory, Rhode Island
July 28 - August 8, 2003

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DAY 6: Monday August 4, 2003
Marine Fisheries

I spent the morning counting bands on my photos. It was very easy on some and very difficult on others. I am supposed to count the dark bands, but shadows, poor photo quality and/or poor section quality makes it hard. When I finished, I created 4 graphs of vertebra number versus band count. Only specimen 486 came out like we hoped (that was the biggest shark). The other three graphs were all spiky. Lisa is going to count them too and send me her data, just for comparison. I'm hopeful based on the one shark that the theory can be verified (that it doesn't matter which part of the column you select, the band counts should be consistent for each animal). Statistically, we have nothing significant but since the big shark came out like we hoped, perhaps with more animals, the data will be verifiable.

I'm done with my research today. The weather has skunked us as far as going out tagging- wind, rain, and high seas for the rest of the week. Cami is going to let me know when they go out next, and I'll come down if I can. This has been a really neat experience. I've met some great people, learned a lot in general about sharks and deep-sea fishing, and I've learned about some of the latest cutting edge research. I'm not sure how this research will really help unless they can correlate age to external size so that fishermen can throw back immature fish (assuming they are still alive when they come in). I guess it will help with the tagging information about migratory patterns, which in turn could help in understanding shark reproductive behavior. This might at least help us know when not to fish for them.

In some respects this has made me want to go back into research but in other respects, teaching is where I want to be. If I can get short term research opportunities like this every few years, it will certainly help with my content knowledge and lab techniques (even though we are much less high-tech in school). And this is far more fun that spending the summer taking college courses.

Post script

School has begun and I've started sharing some of the experience I had with my students. Most of them seem very interested. The bulk of what I did won't be applicable until later in the year, but the students are looking forward to hearing about it. Cami has contacted me twice about tagging & unfortunately, I couldn't make either date, but I've been assured they'll let me know when they start back up in the spring.

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