A friend of ours set up the coolest thing for our 11-year-old daughter, the aspiring Marine Biologist. She got a private tour of the Marine Lab at the University of Guam. She got to see and touch many of the corals, starfish, sea cucumbers, snails, and the top of an unusual type of jellyfish that settles itself upside down. She saw the invasive crown of thorns starfish and its only natural predator, the large triton snail, which also serves as the mascot for the University of Guam.
Thanks to coral researcher Valeri Lapacek, my little scientist-to-be learned about many of the various species found on the reefs around Guam as well as some of the types of corals that were once plentiful but are no longer found in Guam. She learned about some of the ground breaking research the scientists at UoG are doing to identify reproductive patterns of coral in an effort to help set guidelines about safe times to dredge and work around the reef while minimizing the impact on coral life, as well as researching the mysterious “grey death” that is spreading amongst coral reefs, about which very little is known. She even got to put on gloves and dissect a soft coral sample and then look at the eggs under a microscope.
Thank you so much to the University of Guam grad students and researchers who helped facilitate this inspiring experience! My daughter’s keen interest in pursuing a future career in marine biology has now been fueled into a true passion. She hopes to go back to shadow a scientist for a day to learn even more.