Saturday, October 16, 2010

MSc Module 2: Aquatic Animals and the Environment

The second two-week module in the Sustainable Aquaculture MSc program at Stirling was titled ‘Aquatic Animals and the Environment’. It covered the different environments where aquaculture is carried out, with a focus on physio-chemical processes, community structure and function, and environmental impacts and remediation.

The first two days of the module were lectures given by Trevor Telfer on a variety of different topics, including inland and marine systems, the basics of environmental impact, and different factors affecting water quality. These lectures were given to prepare our class for our first field exercise, which was a site visit to Howietoun Fish Farm (see previous blog article). There, we conducted experiments and took water samples to analyze the impacts that the farm was having on the environment.

This analysis took place on Thursday, when we spent the entire day in the laboratory. In the morning, we analyzed the water samples for a number of different parameters, including alkalinity, conductivity, nutrients levels, and suspended solids. The results of this chemical analysis helped us to determine the overall water quality at different locations around the farm, which in turn allowed us to comment on the environmental impact of the facility. In the afternoon, we analyzed the biological samples, identifying plankton in water samples and going through sediment to find and identify different invertebrates.

The second week was spent in the field at Campbeltown (see previous blog article). There we completed an in-field exercise in aquaculture site selection, taking into account all the different factors that affect the decision of where to put a fish farm and what to grow there. This experience was invaluable, as we were given the opportunity to actually look around, test the water, and then make a decision and defend it. Plus, it was our first overnight trip and even though there was a lot of work, it was a blast!

Overall, I am greatly enjoying my experience here at Stirling, and I hope to continue learning as much as I have over the past month. The next module is Aquatic Animal Nutrition and Food Safety, and while there is no field work associated with this module, it should still provide interesting and valuable.

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