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URI senior evaluates nutritional needs for raising flounder
KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 22, 2002 -- South Kingstown resident Zachary Ladin could be excused for acting fishy this summer. Thats because he spent nearly every day from May through September studying summer flounder and conducting feeding trials to better understand their protein needs.
The University of Rhode Island senior worked with Professor David Bengtson and graduate student Adam Crook in an aquaculture research project aimed at establishing the optimal growing conditions for raising flounder, a species that has not yet been commercially farm-raised in the U.S.
"The project focused on different diets to feed the flounder to reduce the cost of raising them," Ladin said. "A lot of fish protein goes into fish pellets [feed], and most of that protein comes from catching fish in the wild. Thats the most expensive component of their diet. So were trying to reduce the protein amount and lessen the overall costs while still getting the same amount of growth."
Ladins daily responsibilities included daily maintenance of the tanks and the recirculating system that keeps the water clean. He also regularly monitored the water quality and fed the fish following a strict protocol. Every four weeks he weighed and measured every fish to assess their growth and compared it with the quantity of food they ate.
"Since the science of raising flounder is still being figured out, this research could play an important role in the future of the industry," said the wildlife biology and management major. "Aquaculture is very beneficial at helping to reduce pressure on wild fisheries."
Funding for Ladins research was provided by the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station through the URI Coastal Fellows Program, a unique program designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing current environmental problems. Now in its seventh year, the Coastal Fellows Program teams students with faculty, research staff and graduate students to help them gain skills that will ensure their future success.
"The Coastal Fellows Program helped me get involved in something thats really applicable in the field," he said. "You get to see the development of new ideas and how things are connected to real world problems."
After graduation in May, Ladin plans on attending graduate school. But, he said, "I also want to write environmental songs for children. I grew up playing folk music on the guitar. And I figure, the more good educational songs for kids the better."