By: SJ Byce, CIEE Intern Coordinator.
Our newest member of the Spring 2017 staff team received the fondest welcome upon her arrival on the island. This was not Courtney’s first trip to Bonaire. In fact, Courtney’s arrival at the CIEE Research Station was a mere two weeks after her departure from the island the previous month.
Courtney Klatt is a Fall Semester 2015 alumnus and also a January Term 2017 alumnus. She first enrolled as a student at CIEE Bonaire in 2015 in the hopes of furthering her passion for tropical marine ecology. Her independent research project focused on fireworm fluorescence, however she conducted her fieldwork solely by snorkeling. Health issues prevented Courtney from scuba diving during her first term, so when other students were breathing pressurized gas Miss Klatt held her breath and free dove down to the reef to conduct assessments. By the end of her semester Courtney was hooked, passionate about marine biology and very keen to become a scuba diver in the future.
In January 2017 Courtney made her second visit to Bonaire. Health issues resolved, Courtney returned as a January Term student and completed the intensive Advanced Scuba course. She has now earned her open water, advanced and rescue diver certifications as well as her AAUS research certification. With 27 lifetime dives to her name Courtney Klatt succeeded in fulfilling her initial goals as a CIEE student.
But the story doesn’t end there. As the final days of the January Term program wrapped up, Dr. Peachey, the CIEE Director, offered her an intern position in the Spring 2017 Semester staff team. And so, a year and a half after she first enrolled as a CIEE student, Miss Klatt returned as our newest staff member, greeted by many smiling faces and several Dushi kisses (Dushi is CIEE’s dog).
This spring semester Courtney will be focusing on a research project about detecting lionfish in environmental DNA (eDNA). The new field of eDNA research is used to accurately detect the presence of specific organisms in a given environment WITHOUT actually seeing them! This can be very useful when the organism, i.e. invasive lionfish, is difficult to find, not very abundant, or found in a location that is difficult to access. To study eDNA, Courtney takes water samples from the ocean and extracts tiny eDNA particles. Then she tests for the presence of DNA patterns cut from lionfish tissue. She hopes that her research can help identify the presence of lionfish more easily in the future.
Keep hunting those lionfish Courtney! And welcome back.