The "SpeedyLarvae" project
by Elysanne Durand, on
With my colleague and friend Agathe Blandin, I have been working at the Ocean Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer a project financed by the PUF partnership with the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
My 2-months internship there was meant to be the "first study ever done" on Mediterranean fish larvae swimming speed.. and it was! I made cute little larvae swim in the swim tunnel that arrived just before me, while being in a fridge (actually, a cold room) all day long. But fortunately for my suntan, I had the opportunity to go almost every day on the boat to drop off and take back the light traps designed to catch the larvae, and that was amazing! Also, we spent hours with PhD student Robin Faillettaz trying to identify the fish species we worked on. When we finally found the key to differentiate Spicara smaris from Boops boops, only the word "Eureka" can describe how we felt.
But getting back to what's important : the larvae. They could swim pretty fast; indeed, the ones we tested could swim faster than the ambient current found in the area, so they can not be considered plankton!
Eventually, those data and more to come, paired with those from the Drifting In Situ Chamber collected by Agathe, will allow improving models that predict larval dispersal, leading to a better management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea.
I am very grateful to my supervisor Jean-Oliver Irisson and to Robin Faillettaz for their commitment in my experience and for making it much more than just a first year MSc internship, but also a great scientific and human experience that makes you not want to leave the lab until 7 or 8 pm everyday ;)