February 21, 2014
by Molly Zaleski
It's a rockfish party up here in Juneau! We're bioprocessing young of the year (YOY) rockfish that were collected in 2013. What does 'bioprocessing' mean? It means we've taken fin clips from them so that a partnering lab can identify if they're Pacific Ocean perch or a different kind of rockfish. We've also taken tissue samples from some to measure their RNA/DNA ratios. On top of that, we removed their stomach contents so that we can get a snapshot of what these little fellows have eaten. This can be pretty difficult because, while most of them have been frozen nicely and look like this:
Some of them have been squished in the transfer from the Gulf of Alaska to Juneau and look like this:
But we've got a crack team on the job to pull the stomach contents proficiently! Shout-outs to our contractor team: Wess Strasburger, Casey Debenham, Hannah Findlay, Tayler Jarvis, and Eamon Conheady.
Finally, they rockfish are dried (to calculate how much of their bodies are tissue versus moisture), and then processed for their chemical components: energy, lipids, ash, and protein. The energy is calculated through bomb calorimetry which is a really fun way of saying we blow them up and calculate the resulting energy from their fish-splosion!
It's a lot of information from some very tiny fish! And while it's fun working with the rockfish, we've noticed, anecdotally, that their eyes seem to be the last things that grind up when we try to homogenize the fish into a fine powder, which leaves me with the Rockwell hit, “Somebody's Watching Me” stuck in my head. If it's now stuck in your head, you're welcome!