A DEGREE student from Falmouth Marine School will be working with the National Marine Aquarium and Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, as well as several other fish farms and aquariums, for her final-year project which focuses on a familiar local mollusc, the cuttlefish.
Natalie Hamill, from Helston, a marine science degree student, will be investigating the impact of population density on growth rates of cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis).
She said: "I have set up two tanks with a shared filtration system, one high density tank holding ten cuttlefish and one low density tank with five cuttlefish. The idea is to see if the amount that are housed in a tank impacts their weight and stress levels."
She went on: "I will only weigh the cuttlefish before and at the end of the eight-week testing cycle, as this will ensure that they are not stressed at all. I will then share my results with several fish farms and aquaculture centres that have expressed an interest in the research."
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The cuttlefish eggs were donated from Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay as part of a breeding programme undertaken by all marine science foundation degree students at the college. So far the students have been successful in breeding bamboo sharks, piranhas and corals to name a few.
Course tutor Craig Baldwin said: "Breeding fish in captivity and developing good husbandry skills is essential in today's world.
"Society is currently using resources that are unsustainable and aquaculture and fish farming may provide some answers to help meet the nutritional demands of a growing population.
"Cuttlefish are one of the species that have been highlighted as being under threat from overfishing and Natalie's project would help in ensuring that we can grow this species in captivity which will help to ensure its survival."