On Tuesday March 1, 2016 scientists from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s Life History Program (LHP) and Science Operations presented an outreach event to students at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC). ASCC Marine Science instructor, Jameson Newtson invited PIFSC scientists to share information about their planned research aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette while in the waters of American Samoa and Samoa.
PIFSC LHP Program Leader, Mr. Robert Humphreys, started the event with a short overview of the kinds of biological and ecological research activities that the LHP conducts and how that information is used for management purposes. After the presentation the students rotated among three research stations each demonstrating a different aspect of this work, including scientific fishing techniques, and gonad histology and otolith setups.
PIFSC scientist, Jamie Barlow and Hawai’i commercial fisherman, Eddie Ebisui demonstrated how to tie their lines and what hooks and spacing to include to best capture the species they are targeting.
PIFSC life history scientist, Dr. Brett Taylor and West Australia Department of Fisheries scientist, Dr. Cory Wakefield set up a series of microscopes and otolith (ear bone) slides to show the students how they analyze growth rings found on the otoliths. Annual and daily rings (similar to rings on a tree) can be seen under magnification and can tell scientist the age of the fish.
Mr. Robert Humphreys also set up a series of microscopes with fish gonads (reproductive organs, i.e. ovaries and testes) slides to show students how they determine fish gender and reproductive stage. Some examples of the slides include male and female fish as well as fish that were transitioning from female to male (sequential hermaphrodites).
Approximately 15 students from both marine science and non-marine science majors attended the event and had an opportunity to look at each station and ask detailed questions of the scientists and fishermen. Two days later the students toured the research ship with the scientists. Hopefully next time the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette visits American Samoa the students can join the scientific field party to conduct research on the vessel!