by Katrina Lohan
Our first trip to Panama felt like a whirlwind! We learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t for processing all the oysters we collected. We also learned that identifying oysters just by looking at them is really hard. To prepare for this trip, Kristy, Greg and I went to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum to meet with our collaborator, Ellen Strong, who is the curator of all of the bivalves. She showed us the oyster collection, and the three of us spent a few hours examining the shells of the different oysters. I’m really glad we did, because we all left feeling much more confident in our ability to identify oysters in the field and in the lab–something that will be very useful!
Our current trip to Panama is expected to be three and a half weeks long, and we have an ambitious schedule. The first few days will be spent finishing our collections on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, then onto the Smithsonian’s Marine Station at Bocas del Toro for a week and half, and then back to the Naos Laboratory to finish sampling the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. It’s time to put those oyster identifying skills to the test!