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One Fish NEW fish!

Posted on January 10, 2013 by in The OFI Blog

Ian Silver-Gorges 2

What did you do over Winter Break?

My name is Ian Silver-Gorges, I am a freshman at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio but I live in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am a biology major and have seen myself working in the natural sciences and more specifically with marine animals since I was a young child. Oberlin has three academic terms: Fall, Winter, and Spring. During Winter Term, students are required to complete a project of their choosing. The project can be almost anything: taking an intensive class on campus, learning how to knit, doing community service, etc.

I knew that I wanted to do something related to marine biology and close to home, and what better place to start looking for a Winter Term project than the Natural History Museum? I followed the directions on the NMNH web site, contacted the advisor of the project I was interested in and they accepted me.  So, I spent my winter break serving an internship at the Smithsonian under the mentorship of Dr. Carole Baldwin and Cristina Castillo in Natural History’s Division of Fishes.  As part of my internship I helped photograph and radiograph new fish species from Curacao.

Going into the internship, I had no expectations. I thought I’d be doing a lot of filing. And, some of what I’ve done so far has been clerical, but taking photos and x-rays of fish is pretty hands on, awesome, and an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to Carole and Cristina for their generosity and I cannot wait to find out what interesting things they’ll have me do over the rest of Winter Term!

UPDATE:  Ian will continue his work with Carole and Cristina, studying a putative new species of pearlfish. This species, like many pearlfishes, lives commensally with sea cucumbers, and in what can only be described as bizarre, it enters and exits the sea cucumber through the anal opening. The sea cucumbers in which the Curacao pearlfish (3 specimens) were found were collected between 300 and 600 ft. during Smithsonian’s DROP (Deep Reef Observation Project) submersible diving off Curacao in August 2012. Below are pictures of one of the sea cucumbers with its resident pearlfish and a photo-tank photograph of the fish prior to preservation:

Holothuria lentiginosa   2012-08-08 17.13.09_holothurian_cropped

2012-08-08 17.13.55 Carapidae_85mmSL_CUR12130_DSCF4781_1