Hello again, fellow readers and bloggers!
I am back with an update after having spent a little over 50 hours together with the talented freshwater biologists at NORCE LFI. Veronica (another biology student at UiB – check out her blog as well!) and I received a warm welcome from the team, and everyone at the office has been happy to include us on the projects they are currently working on.
My first day at the office I was excited to be put straight to work: there was a collection of data on juvenile salmon and trout from various waterways around Norway that needed conversion into a single Excel spreadsheet to be sent to “Vannmiljø” at the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA/Miljødirektoratet). The NEA’s digital tool called “Vannmiljø” is an interactive map of Norway available online where updated analyses of waterway conditions are sent in and become visible on the map (Vannmiljø, https://vannmiljo.miljodirektoratet.no/, 2020). This tool is of great use to many stakeholders concerning Norway’s marine and freshwater environment, including hydropower companies and the aquaculture industry.
Soon after I was taken in on a project which I would be spending the majority of my remaining internship hours on: “Hydropower induced supersaturation in freshwaters: effects on ecosystems, mitigation and solutions”, or SUPERSAT for short. This project examines how gas supersaturation imposed by dams and hydropower stations affects nearby fish and benthic organisms. It is known that too high concentrations of gas saturation can cause decompression sickness and even death. Veronica and I would later get the opportunity to help out in the field and in the laboratory for this experiment. But first, we participated in some necessary preparations.
When carrying out experiments which have not been done many times before, one cannot simply buy ready-made supplies at the store and instead need to be a little creative. Veronica and I therefore spent some time glueing nets onto boxes which were to house the benthic organisms during this experiment. The nets were necessary to allow circulation of water to flow through the boxes without letting the animals escape.
A batch of juvenile trout had been ordered to be used for the laboratory part of the experiment, but these first needed to be examined to ensure healthy and stable condition before they were to be used in the experiment. Six trout were picked out at random to be examined in the lab. One immediate observation was that it seemed all the trout were missing a left breast fin. We continued by taking epidermis and gill samples to observe under the microscope and looked for parasites and other pre-existing health conditions. No parasites or visible health conditions were observed – nonetheless the laboratory leader, Trond, decided to order new trout with which to continue the experiment as damaged/missing breast fins were a sign of poor quality and living conditions provided by the breeder company.
Most recently I have been preparing to travel down to Rysstad to participate in some of the field work for the SUPERSAT project. More on that in my next blog entry, so stay tuned!