Performing an experiment like this, so far from the oceans, has been a real challenge, since keeping the animals happy and fed, all in appropriate water quality conditions, takes considerable monitoring effort. Chaunte, Eva, Jacob and Mitch have been working behind-the-scenes to make sure we have accurate and regular data on all chemical parameters. All the team has also been involved in making new Instant Ocean on an almost daily basis, as well as performing routine water changes on the tanks. It’s through the enthusiasm and dedication of the team that these experiments are possible!
After a very busy experimental set-up day, Elliot and Ian performed the T=24 sampling of the inoculated and control sea stars. All stars still look fine, although Ian noted that all (including the control stars) appear to have a more ‘knobby’ appearance, and all seem to have lost a bit of weight in the first 24 hrs of the experiment. They’re also not taking the mussels we’re trying to feed them, which may be a concern.
In stark contrast, the infected Puget Sound sea stars are ravenous – overnight they destroyed 8 mussels which were put in their tank, so clearly they’re not starving! Hopefully our test sea stars will follow suit. Meanwhile, we are deciding what exactly to do with these individuals – the next phase of our grant will look at how the virus replicates and moves from infected to uninfected animals, so its good that we have animals on which to perform longitudinal studies.
This afternoon Ian departed Ithaca, en route to Corvallis, OR, to meet with colleagues at Oregon State University. There he’ll be speaking with the lab groups of Becky Thurber and Bruce Menge, before heading down to Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport on Friday. Hopefully to see some sea stars!