Hey, welcome back!
As expected, the East/West coast field trip was a crazy good time1. Each morning started with getting on the Lund University Aquatic Research Vessel and bringing in the fish nets that were laid out the previous evening.
Lund University Aquatic Research Vessel, or more simply, a boat. Photo comes from a classmate.
My group ended up working closely with another group who had decided to study the morphological differences in spine and vertebrate count of Atlantic Cod, comparing the subpopulation found off the coast of Baskemölla (East location) to the subpopulation off the coast of Magnarp (West location). Once the nets were in, we worked as a team to remove, identify, measure, and weigh the fish caught. Additionally, any cod that were caught had their otoliths removed2, as well as their stomachs (for prey content analysis). This process of cleaning the nets took the majority of the day, and was actually quite tiring.
Our hostel in Baskemölla. Photo from Svenska Turistföreningen webpage.
Our morning drive to the dock in Baskemölla. Photo from Svenska Turistföreningen webpage.
Each night of the trip was great fun. Prior to leaving Lund, everyone in class pitched 100 krona (~$17) into a dinner fund. We had six dinners to make while away from home, and conveniently we had six different group projects occurring. Each of the project groups were given one night to cook a meal using a portion of the pooled funds. The resulting dinners were epic combinations of stews, pastas, curries, bread puddings, apple cakes, apple crumbles, and steamed muscles3.
Our hostel in Magnarp. Photo from Svenska Turistföreningen webpage.
The road leading to the dock, this time close enough to walk. Photo from Svenska Turistföreningen webpage.
Another notable excursion moment was observing bioluminescent plankton off the coast of Magnarp. The professors took groups of students out on the boat two nights in a row so that everyone had a chance to experience this natural phenomenon. We were able to watch as little sparks of blue and green appeared when agitating the dark water with our hands.
Bioluminescent plankton. Photo credit to Adam Plezer. Photo found on the National Geographic website.
We returned to Lund Sunday afternoon, and were back in class Monday morning. Every group had this past week to use the laboratory for data analysis, as well as report writing. My group was unable to reject our null hypothesis, which was a bit sad, but data is data. We carried on, presenting and discussing our non-significant results, while making suggestions for future studies. Overall, the combination of the excursion, with the data analysis and report writing, has been a great opportunity to get a taste of what conducting a field experiment is truly like.
Spending six nights in shared hostel accommodations during the excursion certainly made it easier to get to know my classmates. So it was only natural that after such a long week in the lab, a large group of us ended our Friday night with burgers and beer at Kalmar Nation, one of the University pubs.
1If this sentence makes no sense to you, please feel free to scroll down until you come across my first entry entitled “A Tale of Two Cities…Or perhaps, more of a comparison”.
2Otoliths, otherwise known as ear stones, can be used to age a fish in a similar fashion to aging a tree. When an otolith is broken in half, alternating light and dark bands can be seen with the aide of a microscope. Counting these bands allow for the age determination of the fish. However, be warned, this is MUCH easier said then done.
3A big thanks to the group studying benthic communities who spent the better portion of a day collecting muscles for our final dinner.