One of the biggest challenges I faced during the process of my final project was choosing which organism I wanted to study. I’ve never had the chance to design my own experiment and conduct a study and it all sounded so cool and official so I wanted to make sure I chose the right one. One of the most important factors for me was choosing an organism that was easy to catch and easy to handle, since I can be a bit of a wimp sometimes. But, in an unexpected twist of events I ended up choosing Hemigrapsus Oregonensis, a species which I had never been able to pick up on my own in past labs due to my irrational fear of getting pinched. After a few failed attempts and one lost leg (so sorry little buddy) I eventually got used to grabbing the crabs and throughout the experiment I really began to fall in love with the little guys.
The goal of my experiment was to observe the effects of temperature, chela size and light intensity on the feeding behaviors in crabs. In order to do this I placed them in a tank where I presented them with either crushed mussels alone or crushed mussels in one corner and a rock shelter in the other. I felt bad about the ruthless murder of the mussels, however it had to be done in the name of science. For the trails testing effects of chela size I had to measure the size of the chela which may or may not be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I would probably rather write another lab report than try and measure the chela size of 40 crabs. Other than that one small obstacle the rest of the experiment was pretty straight forward.
As for my results, like many things in life, nothing really happened the way I expected. As much as I loved the crabs they just didn’t want to cooperate with me and my dream of results that exactly matched my predictions. However, half the fun of conducting an experiment is not knowing what is going to happen! I can’t know for sure what the cause of my wonky results was but like most scientific experiments experimental error can often play a major role. At the end of my experiment I looked back at my methods and my results and realized a few things I could have done differently. Sometimes that’s just how science is and if time was not a constraint I could have done it again but unfortunately I am not yet a scientist and so other finals and other papers were calling.
Although the term and my experimenting have come to an end, I’m hoping to continue learning about marine invertebrates in some way or another. For anyone out there who loves crabs as much as I do I have attached a close up video of Hemigrapsus Oregonensis that I found incredibly cool. Enjoy! 🙂