As part of her final year studying for a BSc (hons) in Marine Biology at Hull University, Sophie is undertaking her research thesis on jellyfish. She will be focused on determining whether water temperature acts as the environmental cue for strobilation (the stimulation of production and metamorphosis of ephyrae (juvenile jellyfish).
Every year The Deep welcomes a small number of students behind the scenes, allowing them to undertake crucial research for their end of year thesis, focusing on the marine environment.
Research opportunities encompass levels up to and including PhD and have allowed the students to progress into employment within the research sector both within the UK and out in the field working for species conservation. They also make strides in the continued development of aquarium husbandry, welfare practises and scientific discovery. By looking into topics such as behaviour, reproduction, feeding and habitats, they are not only working to complete their studies, but their findings can play a crucial role in the continual development of species management within aquariums.
Many of our students come from Hull University and are studying for either their Bachelors or Masters Degree in Marine Biology, Zoology or similar subjects. These studies have allowed them to progress onto complete a PhD in their chosen topic or provided them with the knowledge and experience needed to undertake conservation work out in the field and across the globe.
You may see them around the aquarium with a dashing blue clip board or armed with a go-pro camera, if you spot them feel free to ask them about their project!
MEET OUR STUDENTS...
Two species of jellyfish will be utilised for the study - the Compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella) and the Blue jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii). A control group (of 10 polyps) for each species will remain at a standard temperature of 16°C. The first temperature change on one group of each species will be a decrease to 10°C and the second temperature change will be an increase to 22°C.
The growth and spread of these polyp colonies will be monitored (count data) and observed to determine how different conditions affects strobilation.
Aquarist Phill is undertaking a Masters in Bio-research and Biological Science with Canterbury Christ Church University. Phill's research has 3 main goals: The first is to design and test a novel methods of toxin extraction which is non-invasive and has the potential to be used in fieldwork applications for in situ use.
The second goal is to extract venom from 12 species of Cnidarian using the device. These extractions will be from 4 species of jellyfish, 4 species of anemone and 4 species of coral. The samples will then be used to characterise the venoms using enzyme assays (HPLC) and gel electrophoresis to examine protein activities. There may also be the opportunity to assess these venom characteristics for taxonomy using them to discriminate between species.
The final goal of the research will be screening any activity for use in new or potential drug development. This may involve their effects on cancer cells and against bacteria.
Studying for a BSc (hons) in Marine Biology at Hull University, Shannon will be recording and examining video footage from within the penguins habitat, as well as recording synchronised sound levels to monitor and discover if ambient sounds influence individual penguin behaviours as well that of the entire colony.
Living in a colony of very vocal penguins, like the Gentoo, means being exposed to lots of continual noise. Studies into how sound levels and communication is recieved within such environments can provide clues to the evolution of various behaviours.
Higher visitor numbers has been found to increase the number of penguin/visitor interactions at the enclosure window, for the bolder individuals. The study will examine in the ambient noise created by varying levels of visitors and identify if they play a part in the behaviour of the colony.
To complete his BSc (hons) in Marine Biology, Klay is undertaking regular observation and recordings of the Intra and Interspecific interactions of the fish species living within the Lagoon of Light display around static algae feed stations. These observations are primarily undertaken before the aquarium opens.
The monitoring of current animal interactions that take place around the algae feeding stations will be used to optimise the number and distribution of the algae bags for the herbivorous species within the display.
Analysis of these valuable feeding tools will identify means for evolving the process of their application within the habitat and any potentially required adjustments to allow for changes in fish numbers or population dynamics.
As part of her final year studying for a BSc (hons) in Zoology at Hull University, Choon spent her time researching the Blue Spotted Ribbontail Rays and the Blue Spot Rays within our Lagoon of Light exhibit. By using a Go Pro camera, she was able to accurately capture species activity during feeds for closer analysis.
By examining the behavioural interactions between the two species during feed times, such as food competition, she aimed to establish if there was a dominance hierarchy present between the two separate species alongside the hierarchy that was already evident between individuals of the same species.
Similar interactions between the rays and the juvenile Zebra sharks was also explored.