MRC


A thin crescent of ice was still on Eel Pond when Pablo Correa came to the MBL last March to begin shooting a video. Correa’s visit was exploratory: He knew he wanted to make a short documentary about the MBL, but hadn’t defined a focus beyond the diverse animals maintained in the Marine Resources Center. Correa spent several days shadowing David Remsen, manager of the Marine Resources Department, and his staff, and he took an early-season sail with them on the MBL’s collecting boat, the Gemma. He also observed several MBL scientists who use marine animals as model organisms in their research.

The video Correa ended up making, “These Eyes Follow the Moon,” is not a typical documentary. It is nearly wordless and impressionistic. Yet it also captures an essential “feeling” about the MBL. It moves from the wide-open spaces of the MBL’s ocean setting to the quiet, focused concentration in labs where instruments are prepared for the microscopic imaging of cells. The video also reflects the rhythm of Marine Resources just as the collecting season starts up in early spring. (The MBL collects marine organisms for biological research from April through December, with August being the high season when squid and many other species are collected daily. “August is also the time of year when anything unusual starts to show up in the nets,” Remsen says.)

Correa is editor of the science section of El Espectador, a daily newspaper with national circulation based in Bogotá, Colombia; and a free-lancer for SciDev.net, a network that publishes science news from developing countries. He was a fellow in MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program in 2012-2013.

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Featured in this video are:

In the Marine Resources Center: Skate (Rajidae) at 0:06, 0:24 and 0:33; spider crabs (Libinia) at 3:30; scup (Stenotomus) at 3:40; spiny dogfish (Squalus ) at 4:10; seahorse (Hippocampus) at 4:16. At 4:30, Dave Remsen describes the eyes of the horseshoe crab (Limulus). At 5:30, cuttlefish (Sepiida) for the study of cephalopod camouflage in Roger Hanlon’s laboratory.

Movie of squid skin at 6:27 by Trevor Wardill and Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido: Confocal z-stack of squid skin, blue and green colors showing tissue auto fluorescence and Lucifer yellow forward filled neurons shifted to red using antibodies.

Gonzalez-Bellido PT and Wardill TJ (2012). Labeling and confocal imaging of neurons in thick invertebrate tissue samples. Cold Spring Harb Protoc: doi:10.1101/pdb.prot069625

Movie of dividing cells at 7:20 by James LaFountain and Rudolf Oldenbourg: The events of cell division during meiosis I in a living insect spermatocyte. Testes from the Crane fly Nephrotoma suturalis were observed with time-lapse liquid crystal polarized light microscopy (LC-PolScope, MBL, Woods Hole MA, and PerkinElmer, Hopkinton MA). Movie images display the naturally occurring birefringence of cell organelles and structures that are made up of aligned molecules, such as the meiotic spindle and mitochondria. Horizontal image width is 56 µm.

Part of what makes the MBL unique is that its biologists are able to learn so much from the marine animals found just offshore. Fundamental biological processes in these creatures are often similar or identical to those in other species, including humans. For example, MBL scientists use sea urchins to study embryo development, sharks to study the neural basis of behavior, and squid to study nerve cells.

Last week, members and guests of the MBL Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers enjoyed a tour  aboard the MBL’s collecting boat, the R/V Gemma. Below is a photo tour of their excursion, as sea urchins, starfish, and other model organisms destined to help MBL scientists in their studies were netted. Animals collected on the R/V Gemma are brought back to the MBL’s Marine Resources Center, where they are maintained until they’re used for research.

R/V Gemma crew members prepare to haul in a net used for catching plankton.

R/V Gemma crew members prepare to haul in a net used for catching plankton. The boat leaves from Eel Pond in Woods Hole and heads two miles offshore into Vineyard Sound for sample collection.

____________ explains the importance of plankton as copepods, small crustaceans, swim around in his sample jar.

Ed Enos, superintendent of the MBL's Aquatic Resources Department, explains the importance of plankton in the food chain as copepods (small crustaceans) swim around in his sample jar. Looking on is William (Bill) Zammer, a member of the MBL Board of Overseers.

Crew members bring in a net after dragging it along the seafloor to catch crabs, sea urchins, starfish, and other creatures.

Crew members bring up a scallop dredge after dragging it along the seafloor to catch crabs, sea urchins, starfish, and other creatures.

A crab tries to escape across the deck, away from the sea urchins and shells piled up behind it.

A crab wanders away from the sea urchins and shells piled up behind it. Crew members will sift through the pile, keeping some animals for MBL research and returning the rest to the ocean.

One catch of the day is this slimy set of translucent squid egg cases.

One catch of the day is this slimy set of translucent squid egg cases.

This sea star is regenerating a lost leg, a process that has been studied at the MBL.

This sea star is regenerating a lost leg, a cellular process that is studied at the MBL.
Back in Eel Pond, the Gemma is docked near the Marine Resources Center. Ebert Hall is in the background.

Back at Eel Pond, the R/V Gemma is docked near the Marine Resources Center. Ebert Hall is in the background.

For more information on the R/V Gemma, visit http://www.mbl.edu/mrc/outreach/gemma.html.