Data data everywhere and not an answer to derive.

Actually, that’s not totally true, we do have some possible answers for our Capstone research… But that’s beside the point.


So as a current update yours truly along with the fabulous 2015 OBXFS crew have compiled a hefty load of natural and social science research data and will keep it streaming in for the next month or so.


To fill you in on this year’s research, it entails those delicious little morsels called oysters and if oyster aquaculture (farming) is beneficial or detrimental to the areas where the farms are located. To do this, we’re looking at all of the environmental aspects associated with the farming, plus how the local communities perceive it.



Ooo the suspense of what’s what.


For those wondering why in the world we’re looking at oysters in the sound, North Carolina has the smallest oyster aquaculture industry on the east coast, but has prime real estate for the little pearl bearers. Things that make us science enthusiasts go, “Hmm…”



As of now for the natural science aspect, we’ve collected what seems like endless measurements of light extinction (how far light travels through the water), turbidity (how clear the water is), chlorophyll (hints at productivity in the water) and a long list of other stuff. I, along with Holly, have been in charge of a device called YSI which takes about 8 different water quality measurements. Holly and I named it Buzz on account of its bazooka like appearance.  You get pretty close with something after going through torrential storm downpours and hours of taking measurements…


And oh man, we’ve been up to our eyeballs in SAV (aka Submerged Aquatic Vegetation aka sea grass). Now you may be thinking I’m being dramatic, but some of us have literally been up to our eyeballs… underwater… collecting the SAV. So it still counts. While I understand the importance of SAV, I’m not the biggest fan in the world. Mainly because in order to get an idea of how much of the stuff is out there, we randomly sampled a whole bunch of areas, rinsed what we gathered and then sorted it into roots and stems. Every. Single. Piece. Needless to say, we’re hoping the results are freaking spectacular.


As for what’s next, the SAV has reached the end of it’s season (collective sigh of relief), so we’re going out one more time to get water measurements and then we are doneski.


On the social science side, the good news is we’ve conducted some interviews but we’ve still got a loooong ways to go. However, we’ve gotten some great perspectives on aquaculture from stakeholders and it’s just fun to hear what they have to say. Or at least I think so. As of this week, we’ll be compiling our transcribed interviews (oh yeah, we typed out every single word) and coming up with trending topics.



The weird thing about social science is that you actually don’t have research questions until about mid-way through the process. So we came up with a general direction of what we wanted to know, wrote up a list of questions to ask them, and then we’ll look at what people say in order to determine what’s important and what we want to ask future interviewees. Weird, I know, and it goes against what every natural science teacher beat into us in high school.


Essentially, we have a long way to go but it’s nice being able to take a step back and see progress. I never thought of combining natural and social science, but it’s a pretty intertwined thing if you think about it. Plus, this is my first research project so it’s cool knowing I’m contributing to science not just learning about what others have done.


Also lets be real. I’m getting school credit for spending days on a boat, meeting new people, and doing cool things. That’s just awesome!





Okay, I’m done.


XOXO Sleep deprived and loving every second of it OBXFS student



Published by

Cinnamon Moore

UNC Inst for the Environment