Underwater life flourishes in University’s marine lab

If you’ve ever been to the second floor of the Life Science building, you may have noticed a room containing a large number of tanks. These aquariums, located in room 209, are an important component in the University’s marine science program. Marine science deals with the biology and ecology of aquatic organisms. Typically, students interested in the aquatic surroundings and sea creatures choose the path of marine biology. The marine lab was installed in 1963 and now includes more than 50 tanks, according to the department of Biological Sciences. Founded by now retired professor Cynthia Colling Strong, the marine lab is home to many different waters species including fresh and salt-water life. The marine lab is an important tool in education here at the university. Not only can students major in aquatic and marine sciences and take courses centered on marine biology, but outsiders benefit from the lab as well, according to Mattew Partin, instructor in the biological science department and director of the marine lab. The BG News was able to speak with Partin and spend some time in the lab. During the visit, many younger children were exploring the underwater organisms. These students are a part of the Summer Honors Institute, an organization know as the Summer Honors Institute, in which high school students come and spend the week here on campus, live in the dorms, eat in the dining hall and learn about water creatures. These students are generally nominated by their school in order to attend the program which is state sponsored. In addition, they earn credit for attending the seminar. The marine lab, according to Partin, is also works with Stone Lab of Lake Erie in order for students here at the university to learn more about the science of aquatic life. The university and Stone Lab provide in depth field studies for those who want to get a closer look at aquatic life. In addition to classes, the marine lab is also a place of employment opportunity for students. The lab takes volunteers to help with maintenance in the lab, and in turn, the students learn valuable information for research projects as well. The duties involve cleaning out the tanks and feeding the marine creatures. Students can even have their own personal tank to care for. The lab especially looks for help in the summers and around Christmas time, according to Partin. Students looking to learn more about aquatic life without a major commitment can simply join the Marine Biology Association (MBA). “We have English majors and art majors. Even journalism majors can join,” says Partin. The MBA has “educational fun” such as scuba diving field trips. Some of the more exotic fish featured in the lab include a puffer fish, lionfish, eels, white spotted bamboo sharks, piranhas and the infamous ‘Nemo’ clownfish. Another proud attribute is the variety of coral that is present in the lab. Tours of the lab are also held every Thursday to schools in the area, as well as the green house and herpetology lab. Students are not only able to look but also touch during the tours. Students are allowed to handle the starfish, sea urchins and crabs. For those majoring in the field of marine biology, the marine lab also works in close with the Toledo Zoo to offer internships. Students wishing to learn more information about the marine lab, volunteer, or join the MBA can contact instructor Matt Partin for further information. Written information can also be picked up inside the lab. The lab is frequently open during normal business hours for any curious students just looking to get a look at some exotic sea creatures as well.