Alaska prof takes students up-close to fisheries
HOMER, Alaska -- October 7, 2012 -- If you think only the edible parts of halibut are valuable, think again.
Throughout the summer and into Alaska Pacific University's current school year, Dr. Bradley Harris, assistant professor of marine biology, and students in Harris' fisheries ecology class and in APU's applied fisheries science laboratory put to good use what normally goes into dumpsters.
Lined up at Homer harbor cleaning tables, the students were dressed in rain gear to keep dry during Homer's heavy summer rainfall. More importantly, the slickers, rain pants, boots, hats and gloves separated them from bits and pieces of halibut they sliced and diced from remains donated by local fishermen, charter operators and professional filleters. The students took samples of this organ and that, each sample examined, placed in solution, marked and stored for further study.
The fisheries ecology class is a one-month intensive, hands-on experience in which students conduct research "that advances fisheries science in Alaska," said Harris, a graduate of Chapman School in Anchor Point and a 1993 graduate of Homer High School. The class includes nine graduate students and six junior- or senior-level undergraduates.
"The primary research project is an assessment of the prevalence and intensive of shell boring worms that parasize weathervane scallop shells in Kamishak Bay," said Harris.
Since 1996, Alaska Department of Fish and Game scientists in Homer gathered nearly 9,000 shells of aging scallops. The students are using that shell archive to assess changes in parasite prevalence and intensity during the past 16 years. They figured out how to backlight shells to reveal wormtubes and then photographed them and used image analysis software to quantify the infestation in each shell. The work is being done with Rich Gustafson and Dr. Ken Goldman with ADF&G in Homer.
Read the full story from the AP here