The Last Dive 

Day 8

Today was my last day of diving here in the Turks and Caicos. 

We had a two dive day today. Dive one happened at tons of sponge!! We dived here earlier this week when we were getting certified. On this dive my max depth was a whooping 78 feet!!! This dive so so special and so magnificent. We saw lots of reef sharks today near the wall! It appeared to be a mom and baby too. We also saw an eagle ray! The wing span of this eagle ray had to of been 10 feet. It was incredible! They just glide through the water, like they own it. The shark and the eagle ray were passing by each other a lot. It was such a sight to see. We also saw a gray angle fish today!! We saw a lot of lobsters today, many of them were paired together. On this dive we also encounters a channel clinging crab! It was a pretty big one too. One this dive we also saw a lion fish. This is the first one I have seen since I’ve been here. Although they are an invasive species, they are beautiful fish. The water makes nothing else’s matter. It’s just you and the wonderful nature around you. Tons of Sponge is a great location, but it’s special because you can only dive here when the current is coming in. 

The second dive happened at Pickering’s place. It is called this because Pickering was one of the first divers here in the Turks and Caicos. My max depth on this dive was 73 feet. When we were getting briefed, it was said that this area wasn’t going to be as special as the last dive, but we would still see some pretty good stuff. The instructions popped the question of what do you want to see. I automatically thought…I want to see a seahorse. They both said aahhhh okay, they are very rare to see here so you probably won’t see one. I just said okay, put on my gear and got into the water. After descending, our instructor was pointing out a gorgonian coral. We all swam over to it..low and behold there was a seahorse with its tail wrapped around the coral, I was bursting with joy. We saw a seahorse even though minutes ago I was told we more likely than not wouldn’t see one. I loved seeing the seahorse. I was so excited and Alizee was excited for me that I got see one. I think everyone was thrilled to see one. In this location we saw a shark too. We also saw a sand tile fish, circling in the sandy substrate. This was a great behavior to see. 

This whole diving experience has been crazy. I am so great full and feel so blessed to be able to have this chance to dive. I love being underwater. The feeling is amazing and it’s so great to do be able to do this. I am definitely interested in diving more and learning more about different diving techniques.I can totally find myself becoming a dive instructor. It’s a great thing to be able to do. The undersea life is the good life! 

It’s a great day to be an owl!! Hooty hoo!!

Here are some pictures from today!


Relaxing & Sailing 

Day 6

Today we went sailing!!! This was a new experience for me! I’ve never been on a sail boat before, this was a cool experience! We stopped to snorkle for a little bit. Here in this area I saw 2 Caribbean spiny lobsters, and a peacock flounder! The flounder was so awesome to see! I haven’t gotten a good look at one till today! They are beautiful! We also fire coral today, Dr. C pointed it out to all of us. Which is pretty neat because we didn’t talk about it a lot in class. We sailed for a little and then we stopped at a private island called Pine Cay. Pine Cay is owned by only 33 people! The beaches are public but the rest of the island is not. This area was beautiful, the water was so blue here. It was breath taking. The weather was fantastic, it was a great spot to be at on such a lovely day. We searched for sand dollars and I was lucky enough to find two of them! The Sail boat was relaxing. I definitely enjoyed my self today, along with the sun and the breathtaking views. It was a very good day. I am so thankful to be apart of this trip! 

Here are some pictures of today!

Cognitive Intelligence in Dogs

Most dog owners pride themselves on that they have the most intelligent dog. We all know and have seen dogs fetch a ball or stick, and bring it back, but they can also be responsive when they hear their name and carry out the usual commands such as, “paw,” “sit,” and “roll over.” Through extensive training, dogs can be trained and conditioned to follow such commands (1).

Dog intelligence is the ability of a dog to learn, think, and solve problems (3). Some dog breeds are especially known for their high intellectual abilities. Breeds such as the Border Collie are commended for being workaholics, hence why they are typically farm herding dogs. The German Shepherds are notoriously known as police dogs due to their strength, intelligence, their ability to be trained, and obedience. On the other hand, Golden Retrievers, which were primarily used as hunting dogs, are powerful, active, but friendly, devoted family. Different breeds of dogs can learn different commands at different paces, some easier commands, some harder commands (2). But how do we measure this level of intelligence in dogs? As well as, different dogs and dog breeds all learn differently. So how do we measure and compare that? Animal behaviorists, psychologists, and scientists have come to the conclusion that dogs have three different intelligences, as well as studied the relationship between response latency through multiple cognitive tasks (3).

Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence is what the dog was bred for. For example, herding dogs, like the Border Collie were originally bred to herd animals like sheep. Border Collies have the ability to round up animals, keep them close to together, and guide them in the right direction. These are the type instincts that they are born with. Human guidance may be used minimally. Other examples of this include guard dogs, which are meant to watch over, retrievers are have the instinctive intelligence to fetch, and hound dogs have the instinct to track smells from animals, or other objects (3).

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is how a dog can learn to do something for itself. This includes learning and benefiting from experience in the dogs environment. Adaptive intelligence varies in different breeds of dogs, but also can vary in different dogs within the same bred. For example all golden retrievers have the similar instinctive intelligences, yet their adaptive intelligence will differ. Some dogs will continue to make the same mistake over and over again, and never learn from it throughout their lifetime (3).

Working obedience intelligence

This is the third type of intelligence animal behaviorists and psychologists have pointed out. This is similar to the human’s ability to learn in school. This is based on what a dog can learn to do when instructed to. When a dog that responds to their owners commands, they are showing the most important aspect of dog intelligence, obedience. This is important because if dogs are not able understand and obey their owner’s commands, then they wouldn’t be capable of preforming the pragmatic commands that we value them for, thus we would have never been able to domesticate them (3).



(1) Arden, R., & Adams, M. J. (2016). A general intelligence factor in dogs. Intelligence, 5579-85. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2016.01.008

(2) Nippak, P. M., & Milgram, N. W. (2005). An investigation of the relationship between response latency across several cognitive tasks in the beagle dog. Progress In Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 29(3), 371-377. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2004.12.003

(3) (n.d.). Canine Intelligence-Breed Does Matter. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

Zebrafish as a Model Organism

Zebrafish as a Model Organism

Zebrafish, more scientifically known as Danio rerio is a tropical freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family (Cyprinidae), and is an the Cypriniformes order of ray-finned fish. Zebrafish can be identified by their five uniform, horizontal blue strips on the side of their bodies (1). Originally native to the Himalayan region around Asia, Zebrafish tend to live in shallow ponds and still water. Zebrafish grow to be relatively small, only growing to be the length of 6 centimeters, which is equivalent to be around 2.5 inches (2). A female Zebrafish have a huge research advantage for scientists; not only can the female lay up to 200 eggs per week, but the female Zebrafish develop their embryos on the outside of their bodies, in a transparent egg (1). Among several advantages, this makes it possible to observe the developing embryo in its natural environment.


Picture 1: Zebrafish swimming in a tank. You can clearly see the five blue strips down the side of the Zebrafish’s body.

In general, Zebrafish are great model organisms because of their short gestation period of 2-3 days, and with a generation time of 3 months, they can start reproducing just within 3 months of time, and can live on average up to 3.5 years. In addition, female can lay up to 200 eggs per week (1). Therefore a single female Zebrafish can reproduce hundreds and hundreds of offspring throughout their lifetime. As mentioned before, female embryos develop on the outside of their bodies in a transparent egg. Not only can we witness the development of the embryo through the clear chorion(2). This also allows researchers to easily introduce genetic mutations because their embryos can absorb chemical mutagens that have been added to their water. Due to the clear chorion, we will also be able to easily see the impact of the genetic mutations or drug treatments (4).

Krogh’s Principle and Zebrafish

Krogh’s principle state that “for such a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied.” Krogh’s principle is important to disciplines in biology such as the comparative method (neurobiology, comparative physiology and genetics). Zebrafish have genetic similarity to humans, all the proteins studied have a similar function in fish and mammals (3). This has allowed researchers to use genetic, molecular and physiological methods can be used to understand the fundamental physiological processes in all animals (3). Researchers have used Zebrafish as model organisms for CNS disorders such as anxiety, epilepsy, and brain cancer. The transparent embryos not only allow for researchers investigate developmental biology, but also allow them to easily witness the impact of a genetic mutation or a drug treatment. It also allows them to easily introduce or manipulate Zebrafish’s genes. This all relates back to Krogh’s principle because as a model organism, Zebrafish are able to help multiple disciplines of biology to be conveniently studied (4).

Research with Zebrafish

Research with the model organism Zebrafish has uncovered studies of brain circuitry, synaptic plasticity, and behavior. At UCL researchers studied Zebrafish’s neuroanatomical information to better understand circuitry established by the neurons. Mapping the neuroanatomical information of the Zebrafish will help researchers understand the circuits that drive behavior, among many other things.

At UCL, researchers are studying a Zebrafish’s genetic makeup to identify mutations in the Wnt pathway, which controls tissue and cell regeneration and proliferation, in the developing embryo to see how mutations in this pathway can alter brain and eye development. They have already found several mutations that could not be detected on a wild type background, and they will continue to identify mutations, and will ultimately reveal important gene networks that affect the Wnt pathway during brain development.


Picture 2: Transparent picture of a Zebrafish’s body. You can clearly see the vertebrate and eyes.

Also at UCL, they are also studying the structural and functional asymmetries in the nervous systems that are found throughout the animal kingdom. The brain specialization in one hemisphere to perform specific tasks, is believed to increase cognitive performance. However, brain asymmetries that have been compromised are linked to many neural disorders or diseases like schizophrenia, autism, and degenerative diseases. They are studying the asymmetry in Zebrafish, which will help our knowledge of the mechanisms of the development and functions of the asymmetry.


(1) M. (n.d.). ZF-HEALTH. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

(2) H. (2016). Facts About the Zebrafish | The Fact Site. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

(3) NC3Rs. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

(4) (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from,5035.1

Links to Research Labs:

Pictures:  by kamujp/ CC by  by Orgeon State University/ CC by