Scanning Fishes at Friday Harbor
For the past two weeks I spent my time at the picturesque Friday Harbor Labs (picture above) in the San Juan islands of Washington. I was visiting Adam Summers and learning how to scan fishes using a microCT scanner that he has in his lab. Adam has the ambitious goal to CT scan all fishes. However, with approximately 35,000 species of fishes currently described, doing them one by one would simply take too much time. Luckily, he has figured out a brilliant way to get around this: fish burritos. No, not a burrito that you eat, but a bundle of fishes wrapped together in cheese cloth that gets put into a custom 3D printed tube that Adam makes in-house for scanning. By scanning specimens this way, you can pack up to 20 species in a single scan depending on their size; a HUGE time saver. The resourcefulness and creativity in the lab is impressive, and luckily for me, Adam hasn't scanned many flying fishes yet (the focus of my postdoctoral research). So after a couple of emails back and forth with Adam I found myself making the trek out to Friday Harbor (which involved a flight, a bus ride, and a ferry ride to get on island). With the help of Adam and his postdoc Mackenzie Gerringer, I was able to use the CT scanner, and in 12 short days I managed to scan about 150 specimens. The scanner is impressive and runs 24/7, which is probably the only way that you could end up scanning all fish species in a timely manner. Even more impressive are the awesome projects that people are working on in the lab. Now I have an absurd amount of data to move forward with, so look for upcoming images of CT scanned fishes. A huge thanks to Adam, Mackenzie and all of the other fantastic people in the lab for all of the help and the good times while I was there. I certainly would not have been able to finish these scans without their help, and I hope to go out again in the near future. If you have some fishes that you want to scan, I highly encourage you to plan a trip out to Friday Harbor Labs to help Adam achieve his goal of scanning all fishes!
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