This past Sunday, June 28th was my one day class at Stone Lab. The class was EEOB 692, Ichthyoplankton identification. I know you're thinking ichthywhat? Well, ichthyoplankton are basically larval fish so I spent the day identifying teeny tiny fish under a microscope.
Let me start from the beginning. I live in Dayton so the day before I drove up to Mansfield to stay with my grandpa. Class started at 9am and it was only a 1 and a half hour drive from Mansfield compared to a 3 and half hour drive from home. Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and drove up to Catawba (beautiful BEAUTIFUL drive). I was kinda nervous because I was convinced I was going to get lost (but I only got lost once and still made it on time for the 8am ferry!). Once I pulled into the parking lot for the ferry I started getting extremely excited. I had never ridden a ferry before but let me just say that it was phenomenal. It was so early in the morning that there were only 2 other stray passengers and maybe 5 cars. When I finally got to the island I had to catch a cab (which I had also never done before) that drove me to the OSU office on the island.
Ok so that was my journey to South Bass Island. Once I was there I met my teacher John and we walked over to a classroom that was right next to the office building (unfortunately this class did not require us to actually go to OSU's island, Girbralter Island, which I was kinda disappointed about) and waited for the other people in the class to arrive. There ended up only being 4 people (myself included) in the class but that was actually kind of cool because we all got to know a little bit about each other before the day was through. The first activity we did involved us walking around the room trying to match pictures of larval fish with pictures of their adult form. I think there were 18 different fish and all four of us scored a 1 out of 18. That was obviously like a little pretest and we each got an extra credit point for getting one right. We spent the day learning why identifying larval fish is important, how to pick larval fish out of a sample, what to look for when trying to identify, and which species are in the Great Lakes. We got to look at samples of different species under the microscopes and it was amazing at how small those little creatures were! It was also really interesting how one particular larva looked completely different from other ones and was really easy to identify while others looked seriously EXACTLY the same, yet the teachers (John and Eugene at this point) could tell them apart, no big deal. They were extremely knowledgeable on the subject which to me was amazing because I walked into this class with no knowledge whatsoever about fish. The day ended with a post test that consisted of us matching real life specimens with the pictures from the beginning of class. I passed the test and was sad to see the day end. I headed back to the ferry, having learned a massive amount of information in one day on a subject that I didn't know existed until just recently. I can't even explain how happy I am that I took this class and had the opportunity to go to Stone Lab this summer. I would recommend it to everyone and I'm hoping to go back next summer for a longer period of time.
p.s. because the day was so short and filled to the brim with information I did not get many opportunities to tweet or even to take pictures for that matter and for this I apologize.