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Presenting Zack Tracks!

June 22, 2009

Zack Darnell. a graduate student down here is spending 3 weeks out of the next few months living alone on my boat while he monitors his equipment. Follow his twitter @zackdarnell or in the sidebar here.

Here’s a brief summary of what he’s doing:

In tidal estuaries, spawning blue crabs migrate using ebb-tide transport. They swim to the surface on ebb tides and ride the tidal currents seaward. This is driven by an endogenous circatidal rhythm in vertical swimming behavior. I’m interested in how spawning crabs migrate in non-tidal estuaries, like the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System (APES). The APES is essentially non-tidal with most variation in water level and currents being driven by winds. So, how do the females migrate seaward? To help answer this question, I will be tagging ovigerous blue crabs with depth-logging tags and tethering them on stainless steel tethers about twice as long as the water depth. The tags log depth every 6 seconds, so I will be able to capture even short-duration ascents into the water column. I’ll also deploy a CTD and a current profiler in the center of the array of tethered crabs to measure water currents, salinity, temperature, and water depth. The goal is to correlate vertical swimming behavior with physical parameters of the water column to determine what cues are being used by migrating sponge crabs. I’ll be running these experiments in West Bay (southern end of Pamlico Sound) in about 8′ of water. To ensure that the instruments do not get vandalized, trawled up, or stolen, I’ll be living on a small boat nearby for 5 days to a week at a time. The boat is a 20′ Wellcraft with a homemade PVC and tarp shelter. I’m hoping to start the first deployment on Monday, June 29.

~Southern Fried Scientist

2 Comments leave one →
  1. whysharksmatter permalink*
    June 22, 2009 3:01 pm

    I know that this information is here, but I think it needs to be stressed further.

    Zack is living on Andrew’s 20 foot boat under a homemade tarp shelter in the middle of a bay for three weeks.

    That is dedication to crabs right there.

  2. Bill permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:17 pm

    the only thing better than being out on the White Lady would be eating steamed crabs while on the White Lady

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  • Authors

    The Southern Fried Scientist

    Andrew is a graduate student in North Carolina studying deep sea biology. When not in the lab, he spends his time out on the water, usually swearing at his boat while simultaneously sacrificing some important tool to Poseidon in a desperate attempt to make the motor start. That is, assuming he can get his truck running long enough to actually put the boat in the water. He enjoys long walks on the beach, by necessity. Follow him on Twitter @SFriedScientist.


    David is a graduate student in South Carolina studying shark conservation. He is the author of the upcoming book “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help”. His time is divided between educating the public about sharks, spending days at a time at sea playing with sharks, and eating horribly unhealthy foods. Follow him on Twitter @WhySharksMatter.

    bluegrass blue crab

    Amy is a graduate student in North Carolina studying local ecological knowledge within the blue crab fishery. She spends half her life studying the most charismatic of organisms - humans - and the estuaries on which they depend. While not contemplating grand social theories, she enjoys a good jam session and watching sunsets over the estuary. Follow her on Twitter @bgrassbluecrab.

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