Collecting and feeding the Predators of the Oyster Reefs

Pic of oyster reef at Goose Island Park

Who We Are

Christina Escobar

What We Did

The first time I had the privilege to go out to the field with Avery was out to the ship channel at Port Aransas to help her team catch mud crabs and “attempt” to catch blue crabs for Avery’s research on Predator/Prey ecology. Avery warned us that it was going to be very difficult to catch a blue crab and she was correct. They are definitely feisty little creatures!

The next time I went out with Avery and her team was to Goose Island State Park. I traveled to Rockport with Avery along with Dr. Smee and Spencer, Dr. Smee’s intern for the summer.  This was a little different than what I did previously in catching the crabs, this time we were out there to feed her blue crabs that are a part of her experiment. I actually shucked oysters and fed them to the blue crabs. It was a great first time experience.

I also had the privilege to be a part of the news coverage KIII TV 3 News did that day on Avery and Dr. Smee’s research on the effects the oyster reefs have on our ecosystem and the different things that effect our reefs and preservation of oysters. I have attached a link hereto of the news clip that Sarah Acosta with Kiii TV did on the research being done by Avery and her team here at Texas A &M University Corpus Christi.

Pic of Oyster at Goose Island Park

News coverage at Goose Island Park with Dr. Smee and Avery

On two other occasions I have helped Avery change out the water for the crabs in her lab here on campus. I thought it was good that I did this as well because I have been out on the field with her twice, but I had not seen the actual experiment in the lab.

I also had the privilege to go out with Avery and Dr. Smee to Indian Point Park. Dr. Smee, Avery and their colleagues were nice enough to take us out and show us the different tools they use to collect specimens, organisms and such for their different experiments. It was a very informative field trip and I am glad that I went.IMG_0361IMG_0408


What We Learned

I think for myself, the most important thing that I learned since experiencing these different adventures with Avery is that I am more interested in Science then I ever thought I was. Avery’s research has got my attention as to how interested I am in marine life and ecology.

Of course, I am not fully informed as to what her research entails, but for the most part, I have learned that our oyster reefs are very important to our ecosystem. They do things such as filtering our waters and protect our shorelines. Oysters are important because they provide habitat to things such as blue crabs and fish. However, they are dying out and not re-producing due to things such as over harvesting and blue crabs left alone to prey on the oysters. In her research, she is testing to see what effect the blue crabs and mud crabs have on the way the oysters defend themselves with the different cues they sense from the crabs. One way is to thicken their shell in order to protect themselves and the end result would be that stops future generations from re-producing as much.  I know there is so much more to her research; however, this is how I would summarize what I took away from my experience.

Questions We Have

The questions that I have for the future would be to see where her research goes. This is the lab I have spent the most time at and I am real curious to hear about the end result.

Is there a difference in the way Oysters reproduce or defend themselves when the blue crabs are given different feeding conditions?

Connections to Teaching

The connections to teaching that I caught on to were the lesson on how important things, such as oysters and oyster reefs are to our ecosystem. I would definitely take this lab experiment and do a lesson in my classroom about the important of marine life, in particular oyster reefs and what we as society can do to help with the problem of oyster reef decimation.  You could definitely take a field trip to a place such as Indian Point and have students look at the oyster reefs and all the other marine life out there and report on the importance they have on our ecosystem.