Recently (after being a part of this trip), I learned that the organisms that I have been calling ‘starfish’ my whole life actually have another name that they should be called: ‘sea stars.’ This new piece of knowledge has definitely been a struggle to get used to. I am studying various species of sea stars and brittle stars as my research experiment with my partner and occasionally, I still catch myself calling the fun, little organisms ‘starfish.’ Nevertheless, it is quite amusing to watch them move around in our sea table although sometimes I do feel bad taking them out of their natural territory. We try our best to make them comfortable whenever we can! I’ve already noticed that their different functional morphologies affect their movement or gliding speed in relation to each other. My group’s research is mainly on which class of Echinoderms (sea stars or brittle stars) reacts the fastest to the stimuli we present. Although it is a bit nerve-racking if things in the experiment don’t go as planned, I am looking forward to learning new concepts about these critters. As with everything else I have come across in the water, there is so much more to know than meets the eye. This trip has not only opened my eyes to many new identifiable organisms in the water, but it also has taught me that I am quite compassionate about them and want them to be able to live in a healthy habitat.
This is a shot of the sea table, where we are mostly working with the organisms. We are using the two tanks with bright flagging tape for our setup in order to test our hypothesis.