My Experience at the Lab-Max Niu

Post by Max Niu, Baykeeper HTHS Intern

Hey guys 👋!

I just had the most enlightening and enjoyable experience interning with NY/NJ Baykeeper.

 My name is Max, and I’m a senior at High Technology High School. I was working with Baykeeper for  my mentorship program, and today, I was able to join Amanda, one of the awesome marine biologists in the organization, in the NOAA laboratory and learn all about and actually see Baykeeper’s conservation efforts in action.

When we first stepped into the building, I felt so privileged. I was in a laboratory that housed research projects of acclaimed researchers and well-known organizations. We traveled towards the back of the building to where the baby oysters were being held. There were 3 large tanks filled with seawater and millions of infinitesimal oysters. After briefly admiring the tanks and observing the other fascinating organisms that resided in the tanks, like sea anemone and tube worms, we began testing the water in each tank. I learned how to use a testing device called YSI and test strips, which measured the water’s qualities including pH, salinity, hardness, temperature, and the concentration of harmful chemical compounds in the water. We tested the water in one of the tanks twice in order to ensure that the device was working properly. I was learning so much about the proper methodology behind successful data collection!


After collecting the data, we prepared to feed the oysters. Once the filters were removed and the bubblers were shut, it was time to feed the hungry creatures! We grabbed a container of algae and measured out 60 milliliters for each tank. Amanda taught me how to evenly spread out the algae in the tank, but on my first try, I ended up spilling it outside. Sorry Amanda! She was very understanding, and let me try again. I soon figured out how to successfully spread out the algae in the tank, and I was proud of myself.

Satisfied with the results, I then asked Amanda if we could explore the rest of the laboratory and see the other research projects. One remarkable experiment we passed involved nurturing striped bass and using its waste as fertilizer for an estuarine plant. We also saw an experiment with small fish and algae being grown in one of the rooms. It was so cool!

I then dragged Amanda upstairs to visit the office rooms. We ran into a couple of people and eventually, ended up in a conversation with a researcher about his profession and the research he was conducting. After that, we went back down into the room with the oyster to place the filters back in the tanks and start up the water filters.

Throughout this entire experience, Amanda was constantly teaching me about marine biology, conservation efforts, and about college and life in general. She provided me with so much experience, advice, and knowledge that will definitely be helpful in the future. I had so much fun working with and tending to the oysters and who knows, maybe I’ll be back and officially join Baykeeper as an employee in the coming years!