Morone Saxatilis larvae (Striped Bass) Experiment At the University of Delaware
I am a current masters student at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. I work in Dr. Danielle Dixson’s lab studying temperate fish ecology. My research is focused on 3 species of fish native to Delaware and the East coast of the U.S. They are weakfish, summer flounder, and striped bass. My project specifically is looking to see if larvae and juveniles of these species use olfaction (sense of smell) to identify and locate suitable nursery habitats within Delaware’s estuaries.
This process has been well studied in coral reef fish but poorly described in temperate species. If olfaction plays a significant role (preliminary results show it does), then I will seek to try and identify what is in the water that matters to the fish, what smells they like, and what they don’t like, what’s important and what doesn’t have an effect. If we can identify “smells” that are man made and dissuade the fish from using an area as a nursery habitat then perhaps this information can be used to inform fisheries managers and efforts made to improve the habitat so it can be fully utilized and thus support a larger number of fish to help bolster our fisheries. Working with the larvae and juveniles is much more logistically feasible as adults would require far more infrastructure to house and test, and are more susceptible to stress related to the research. These species were chosen for this study because of their recreational and commercial importance, but also because they vary from one another in the timing and location that their spawning events take place.
In this video we see one of my tanks of striped bass larvae receiving their daily feeding of Artemia (sea monkeys or brine shrimp) which I hatch daily for them. These stripers are currently 2 weeks post hatch and roughly 6 mm in length. They are mostly translucent and the orange coloration seen in some of them is the concentrated Artemia in their stomach that they have been feeding on.