As the school by the sea, we have many students who have become devoted to studying the ocean and its’ inhabitants. Students who are ready to jump into the deep, even giving up their vacation time, to learn more!
This March break, nine Tabor students interested in marine science will be heading to Woods Hole to engage in the first secondary school High School Discovery Course run by Marine Biological Laboratory. These advanced marine science students will be immersed in a very high-end program for six days, working with top scientists in their labs. In just the first day they will be learning about specimen collection, time lapse video and specimen photography, and DNA extraction! They will also be learning about in vitro fertilization and injections and imaging of embryos, as well as creating 3D model images of embryos. They will reconnect with Dr. Roger Hanlon, an MBL research scientist some of our students met in the fall when we visited his Woods Hole lab to learn more about camouflage in Cuttlefish and Cephalopods. In the evening, when there isn’t an evening lecture, the picturesque village of Woods Hole, with its restaurants and shops, will be theirs for exploration.
Another group of students will travel to San Salvador, Bahamas, to participate in a new research project with faculty members Dr. Crosby and Jay Cassista. Dr. Crosby has paired up with a researcher from Northeastern, who shares a similar interest in coral reefs and their survival, to create a new research project. Over the week at the Gerace Research Center in San Salvador, Tabor students will be documenting reef communities and begin work to eventually help rebuild damaged communities. Through DNA screening, students will find complimentary specimens of healthy coral to create “coral trees” from fragments (think of a plant clipping). Only certain species live successfully together, so the students must accurately sort the species using DNA analysis.
Once created, these fragment coral trees will grow out in a designated area of water until we can return next year in the hope of “planting” them in the ground, repairing damaged areas of reef. This is the first time a coral nursery has been attempted at Gerace and we hope to make a significant impact. “The goal is to re-establish healthy and resilient reef-building coral communities that will support the diversity of life for which these important ecosystems are so well known,” says Crosby. He shared that these methods have been successful in other locations, taking about two years to reestablish a healthy reef.
All in all, our marine science students are in for a treat as they explore some cutting-edge science in the making! Not a bad way to spend some downtime!