Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fishing Trip for the Win

Today I was randomly invited to help catch flounder on a fishing trip. And why would I refuse? I mean, come on. 

So today was definitely full of adventure. We met the charter around noon today and stayed out on the water until around 5. And I forgot my sunscreen...yeah I got burned. 

The boat was so relaxing. And guess what?! I didn't get seasick! Woohoo! I'm just winning this summer. 

My first catch was a Redfish! I was pumped. 

My other catch, say whaaat! Yeah it was my first stingray that I caught all by myself. It made. My. Day. All of those hours out on the boat were worth that catch. I was so happy. My face is "I can't handle, please take this picture so I can let this poor guy go but I'm so happy ahhhh"

He survived by the way. No harm was done to this guy. 

We caught a few other fish, including some drum, catfish, and sheepshead, but we didn't catch what we were out there for: Southern Flounder. Sadness. Hopefully soon we will get some. 

Tomorrow is boat day for the crab project since Tuesday was gloomy and stupid. Out on the boat two days in a row this week! Yes!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Getting Crabby

I told you guys I would eventually get some boat pictures, or just crab pictures in general. I have succeeded! 

This morning we went to collect whatever was trapped in our crab and flounder traps. It didn't take too long to go through them all, but it was DURTY. Yes, dirty with a "u" because it was that bad. My beautiful white fishing shirt was ruined with Mississippi mud. I smelled don't even know how to describe it actually. Just putrid. Like rotting poop. Sorry for the graphic language but it's accurate, let's be real.

That's me on the boat! And my beautiful male crab that I caught. He's trying to pinch the fire out of me, but I'm holding his claws. That's really the only way I've figured out to hold them without being in danger of a painful experience. 

That's my "New shirt and it's already ruined with disgustingness" selfie. I had to take a shower immediately afterward. I couldn't stand smelling myself. 

After my shower and some lunch, I worked up the 12 crabs we had caught. They had been pretty feisty, especially the males, so we put them on ice for about an hour. It calmed them down. (They all survived this little journey so don't worry. I released them all after I worked them up and took my measurements. This is not a lethal experiment.)

I weighed them, measured their width, and determined sex. That was really all I needed. 

This was the biggest male we caught. He was humongous. Such big claws. His claws were almost as big as his body. He was pretty much jacked. I wouldn't have been handling him like this if he hadn't been on ice. He was calmer in this picture. Otherwise he would have reached around and pinched the crap out of me. 

Overall a really tiring day. Full of adventure and crustaceans. And mud. Let's not forget to mention the mud. But I loved it all. And I can't wait for the next boat day. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

First Boat Day!

Hallelujah, Jesus, we went out on the boat today! 

The weather this week has been so crappy, raining every few hours and cloudy almost all week. But today was a little bit better. It only sprinkled a little bit this morning. The wind wasn't horrible, either. So it was boat time!!

The little 17 foot whaler was a tiny thing but it did the job. We actually fit 3 people on there along with our gear, traps, and safety equipment. The fit was tight, but it worked. No complaints. 

I was used to the big boat last summer for the shark biology class, with a whole crew doing most of the dirty work for us. This time around is a lot different. Because there are so few of us in the lab, everyone has to pull their weight. We all need to learn how to steer the boat, hitch it on the trailer, take it out of the water, prepare beforehand, clean up after. The dirty work is cumbersome and it zaps your energy. I fell into my bed this afternoon and conked out for a while. That's just what boat days will do to you. 

We set out all the crab and flounder traps, launching them in three different locations in the Mississippi Sound. We will go out again on Tuesday to see what we caught! This trapping project will most likely be a twice a week thing. 

I'm so sorry I don't have any pictures...I'm a horrible blogger. I was so much better last year. BUT! I post a lot on Instagram (@clairerobinson0316) and Snapchat (cerobinson316)! So if you aren't already following me or whatever they call it, be sure to look me up. Snapchat is so much easier to post on, don't judge me. 

I promise boat pictures! I have at least a dozen more boat rides ahead of me, so you'll see something eventually. 

Btw, no sea sickness for this girl today! I took my medicine, wore my sea sickness bracelets (actually advertised as bracelets for pregnant women going through morning sickness, but they work anyways), and drank lots of water. The boat ride is only about ten minutes, we do a few science things like set traps and take data, and then go back to shore. Nothing like an all day boat ride. I'm loving it. 

We'll see how next week goes!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's so rainy. And gloomy. And cloudy. And blah. 

Today we were supposed to go out on the boat and set traps. Sadly, the monstrous weather kept us from doing so. So today was just another day in the lab. Reading literature and stuff. 

This morning, though, I helped a technician work up some menhaden! They smelled super fishy and gross, but it was better than sitting around. 

It looks delicious, I know. If only you were there to smell it. Get immersed in it. I was telling someone earlier that the only way to describe the smell was "penetrating my soul." Accurate statement right there. 

The menhaden project is for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I weighed them, measured their length, and took scales from them to be observed and analyzed later. I believe that NOAA is using the scales for aging. 

Hopefully the weather will get better this week! I think we will try to set the traps out on Friday. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day 3

Ok, so my internship this far has been overwhelming, informative, interesting, and overwhelming. 

Oops I said overwhelming twice. I'm just gonna keep it there, it deserves to be said twice. 

Anyways my job has been a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But mainly I've been working on some data loggers for my blue crab project starting next week. Calibrating them, figuring out how it all works, banging the computer a few times in frustration because I don't do computers. You know, the usual stuff that goes along with learning a new technology. 

Field work starts next week so we are trying to prepare as much as possible this week with the loggers and data sheets and boat equipment. We don't have the largest boat at the lab so we will be a little crammed on there. So the more prepared we are ahead of time, the better. 

We deployed a flounder trap off the dock at the lab just for some practice with data loggers attached. While bringing up the trap this afternoon to put one of the loggers on it, we found a couple blue crabs in it!

They're sort of hard to see but they are in the top of the picture. The bait is in the middle of the trap. Sadly they escaped the trap before we could take them out and use them as test subjects. Scientific summertime sadness. But I have a feeling that there will be a lot more where those two came from. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's Been a Whirlwind

I have been in such a whirlwind that I haven't been able to even think about posting on this blog for the past couple of days. So so so sorry. I know my multitudes of fans are reading this shaking their heads at me in disappointment.

Well, I'm here! Here at the research lab, 2 days in, and I'm already swamped with stuff. I will definitely be learning a bunch this summer. I'm working in a marine fisheries lab, and my background is definitely not fisheries, so we'll see how this goes. I have a lot to do but it'll be worth it. Whatever experience I can get.

My project is mainly about blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and its abundance here in the Mississippi Sound. I can't get into too many details because it's just the first couple days, but later on it will come together. Adjustments to the details of the project may happen based on how field work goes and how the data looks and so on.

We will be going out on a little skiff not even 20 feet long. It probably fits 2 people, 3 max. It's a little guy alright. We'll be setting out traps for blue crab and flounder (for another project), baiting them, and coming back to check them later on in the week. That field work will most likely start next week, mid-week.

Because of the flounder project going on simultaneously, I have become an expert at filleting flounder. So many flounder have come in to be worked up, and the lab will fillet the catch for you complimentarily. Yeah, no extra charge people. Come right on down, I'll be here all summer!

I've already told the whole lab that I get sea sick, so they have been warned...Hopefully I won't get sickly, because I have a lot more responsibility this summer than last summer. I won't have like 30 other students to step up to the plate for me. I'm taking a half dose of Bonine every morning to get it into my system so maybe that will work?? Ugh I hope so.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


This is it: I'm leaving for the Gulf Coast in 3 days! Wow, I seriously can't believe it came this fast. Graduation was last Saturday and now I'm about to start my first internship.

OH! And I meant to post something about this last week, but let's be real, I was a tad busy...

Graduation + Exams + Packing + Moving out of my apartment + Re-packing for the internship + A baby bit of Netflix = ultimate chaos and no spare time whatsoever.
Ugh, I just got tired from writing that.

I got accepted into the Graduate Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW)!!! God is so good! That was the only school I was accepted to, but who cares, I was accepted! I found this out 3 days before graduation. It was a wonderful graduation present. So add "Looking for apartments in North Carolina" and "Enrolling in grad school" to the little equation up there. Yeah, my life right now...

I won't complain. The apartment hunting is actually pretty fun for me. I'm seeing myself in a new chapter and it's fantastic. I can't wait! AND you millions of readers out there will hear of more coastal adventures! (Yeah, I know there are millions of you.) Most of my work will be genetics-based, but I'll be a quick little drive away from the Atlantic Ocean! Ah!
Spending a life living at least 7 hours away from the ocean is a struggle when you have a coastal dream. But still, I've gotten used to living land-locked all my life here in Tennessee. It'll be weird. But a good weird. An awesome weird.

Updates later!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Get Ready for More

I can thankfully update you all that I will be back in Ocean Springs this summer! I applied for a summer internship at the Gulf Coast Research Lab a few months ago and was accepted! I can't lie when I say that I was completely shocked. And obviously I was humbled. There is apparently more for me to do down in Mississippi, and I'm not complaining.

This summer will be filled with update after update, so just get ready for more. I know you've been patiently waiting for something like this to happen. You're living vicariously through me. It's ok, I'm honored ;) Anyways, I'll be in Ocean Springs for 8 weeks studying under a faculty at the marine lab. According to the information I've been given so far, I'll be working with menhaden. Menhaden is a huge part of U.S. fisheries. It will definitely be an informative, eye-opening experience for me. But it'll be fun. And geeky. And probably filled with sea-sickness. But that's just a given, guys. You remember last summer.

P.S: Graduation in 33 days whaaat