Today at the Kaktovik Oceanography Program was all about fish. Randy Brown, a fish biologist from UAF, gave a guest lesson on Dolly varden and Arctic char, which are actually different species. Though they look virtually identical and distinguishing them requires counting their fin rays. Randy dissected a Dolly varden and a saffron cod and showed students how the same body part looks different on each species. For example, Dolly varden have small otoliths (ear stones) and saffron cod have much bigger otoliths.
In the afternoon students got to try their own hands at dissections. In groups of four, students dissected preserved seastars. Seastars are sometimes called starfish, which student’s learned is a misnomer because seastars are a member if the Echinoderm family and are not actually fish!