My name is Taana trotter, I am 15 years old and go to Queens High School
in Dunedin. I attended the 2015 Deep Thought Programme with the help of
the money from being awarded the Alumni of the University of Otago in
America Inc. Scholarship. I wanted to go on this course to further my
knowledge of marine science and to be exposed to more of this amazing
science to see it as a future career option.
The course was about oceanography and three main aspects; physical
oceanography, benthic and planktonic. I was in the benthic group and we
did our study on ‘how different sediment types affect the richness and
abundance of benthic organisms’. We gathered our data onboard the RV.
Polaris II using a grab to take samples of the ocean floor. We then took a sediment sample from
each grab sample, and strained the rest of the sediment out using 1mm mesh, leaving anything
bigger than this behind. We did this in multiple locations that we thought would have courser
sediments and finer sediments.
Back at the lab we sorted through the samples taking out all life forms and, under a microscope,
counting them and identifying them. Then we got all our data together and made conclusions and
presented back all our work at the end of the course. I actually really enjoyed collecting and
sorting out the data. I was amazed to find how many different species of worms there were and
how they look only slightly different, but could be a completely different species. In our group I
found it hard dealing with the other leaders, since I myself often take up this role. With others also
trying to lead we often clashed, so I stood down from leading and just did what work was needed,
even if it wasn’t the way I would do it. In group situations this often has to be done.
As I stated before there’s a lot, I mean like a lot, of different species of worms as well as other
benthic organisms and I think it would be quite interesting to learn how to identify the different
species. This would be very hard but I believe a very great talent to have. I learnt a lot
academically and gained great skills. I learnt a lot about the benthic organisms and about the
range of sediment types (e.g. the difference between sandy mud and muddy sand). I also learnt
from what the other groups presented. A lot of computer skills were gained like; shortcut codes in
Microsoft Excel, how to do certain shortcuts and use programs with Mac computers, and also
furthering my knowledge on fair testing and carrying out a scientific investigation.
I made some great new friends and caught up with some old ones. I had a lot of fun with the night
activities that were all marine-based. Coping in group situations, working with a range of people
with different skills, abilities and ways of thinking, is something that will help me in the future to
get along with everyone and work efficiently and effectively.
I want to thank the Alumni of the University of Otago in America Inc. so much for awarding me the
scholarship, which allowed me to have this brilliant experience and provided me the opportunity to
further my scientific knowledge, as well as gain people skills and let me explore marine science
further. I will continue to use my knowledge in and outside of school and hopefully with the years
to come I’ll have this experience to help me decide which future career in science is right for me.
With all my gratitude, Thank you.
Setting the grab
Deploying the grab
Collecting sediment samples
Sieving the sample
Identifying worm species
Sorting through the sample