Discussion Question

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In this module, we observed biological sampling and a variety of marine organisms including lobsters. This can easily lead to a practical discussion on the health of our beaches, recreational waters, and the seafood we eat. What factors control what organisms were obtained by sampling and how many of each? We can easily extend what was in the DVD to a discussion on biodiversity, the challenges of estimating marine populations, and the occurrence of new and invasive species.

Many students have local and personal issues that they care deeply about and experiences or concerns that they may want to discuss. For example, organisms such as barnacles are of significant concern and are called “fouling organisms.” They can devalue boats, piers, and marine equipment. Research into safe and effective anti-fouling protection is ongoing and potentially big business. What approach would you like to see in your vacation spot? Each of you has a unique perspective and perhaps a different geographic point of reference. Share that!

Here are some other possible topics:

  • What can be done to control invasive species or prevent their introduction in the first place?
  • Amphipods brought up with the mud grab demonstrate the presence of key organisms that form the basic infrastructure of many fisheries. And yet, they are invisible without the use of microscope and little is known about their biology. Can you make a case for spending money on studying their basic biology?
  • Another important topic that emerges when we look at sampling techniques is the challenge of mathematical modeling of fishery resources. Modeling is an important tool for planning and conservation. Biology, economics, technology, and mathematical principles meet in this new, vital, and rapidly advancing field of study. What are the challenges of obtaining a reliable census of marine organisms?
  • Otter trawls, as viewed in the DVD for this module, highlight the design, efficiency, and inefficiency of sampling and fishing technology. A quick look in the scientific literature using “otter trawl” as a search term reveals the aptness of addressing this issue here as well. For example, see this article.
  • Compare what was caught with the different sampling techniques.Whenever possible, include the name, number, and the size of each type of animal. Speculate on the reasons for the specimens obtained. Look for differences between each type of sampling gear, the time of year these samples were obtained, and the effects of oceanographic parameters on the distribution and ecology of organisms. What conclusions can you draw?
  • What advantage is there in accurate record-keeping that results in data widely available to teachers, biologists, boaters, commercial fishermen, and students?

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