York University, B.A. Philosophy
In 2014 I graduated form York University in Toronto, Canada, with a degree in philosophy and a minor in biology. This combination allowed me to focus my interest towards animal behaviour and consciousness, which led to an opportunity to study wild orangutan behaviour in East Borneo, Indonesia. I have been an active SCUBA diver since 2007 and have logged dives in Canada, Cuba, Australia, Borneo, and most recently, Alaska. Synthesizing my interests in animal behaviour, marine ecology, and SCUBA diving, I currently use stable isotope ecology to determine the diet of wild giant Pacific octopus (GPO, Enteroctopus dofleini) in Alaska.
My thesis applies stable isotope analysis to describe the diet of the dominant octopus species caught incidentally in offshore fisheries in Alaska – GPO. Despite being widely caught as bycatch in Alaskan fisheries, successful management of GPO is hindered by a paucity of data on the species’ life history. Recent studies have attempted to account for reproduction, movement, and discard mortality, however, diet composition remains largely confined to information gleaned from three decades of midden analysis in intertidal populations. As octopuses are largely caught in the offshore environment, I aim to develop a more complete understanding of GPO diet composition across state waters and fisheries. I will perform a two-part study involving both lab and field components. First I will conduct a lab analysis of the incorporation rates of stable carbon (13C) and nitrogen (15N) into the tissue of GPO. With these rates, I will then perform a field study of the stable isotope composition found in the tissue of octopus found in Alaskan waters.
Funding for this work is provided by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative via the Alaska Education Tax Credit Program.