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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892

Topsham resident prepares to make her
mark on Maine’s marine environment

To graduate from URI in May

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 27, 2003 -- It was an interest in sea turtles that led Topsham, Maine resident Jennifer Menendez to consider a career in marine biology. But now lobsters are her passion as she prepares to graduate in May as one of the top fisheries students at the University of Rhode Island.

"I’ve never regretted changing my focus from marine biology to fisheries," said Menendez. "It’s been a much better choice for me, because the hands-on nature of the fisheries major makes me better equipped to go out and get a job."

By way of example, she quickly listed several classes that found her regularly on (and in) the water throughout her college career -- a small boating class, a research scuba diving class, and a world fishing methods class, in which students tried a different type of fishing each week, including long-lining, dredging, trawling, and lobstering.

Menendez also conducted several research studies under the direction of URI research associate Kathy Castro that gave her important insight into her chosen profession. She grew lobster larva and released them on artificial reefs to evaluate their use of the man-made reefs, and she studied mortality rates of tagged lobsters.

"We had traps on the reefs that we would haul twice a week," she explained. "When you stick a tag (for identification) between the back and tail of a lobster, it’s easy to harm them. And sometimes the tags shift and get infected. The softer lobsters had higher mortality than the larger ones."

In addition to her classroom and research activities, Menendez served as the president of URI’s Marine Science Society. She smiled and said, "We do marine science things! We go out on the research vessel once or twice a year, we visited a Russian factory freezer trawler, we did kayaking trips, beach cleanups, and we went to the Maine Fisherman’s Forum every year."

When she graduates in May, Menendez knows exactly what she wants to do. That’s because she spent last summer working with the scientists at the Maine Department of Marine Resources who have her ideal job.

"I want to be part of a port sampling team, traveling up and down the coast going to lobster dealers. They count the boats as they come in, count the lobsters each boat caught, and weigh and measure 10 lobsters from each catch. They’ve been doing this for 35 years, so they’ve got the longest record of catch rates around.

"It’s the perfect job because you get to see the whole state, talk to the lobstermen, get their views, and take their comments back with all these statistics so you can say, ‘this is what the fisheries are doing, so what do we need to do to manage them.’"

Menendez’s role on the team last summer was to evaluate the health of the lobsters by taking blood samples. (Lobster blood is clear.) She found the lobsters throughout the Maine coast to be very healthy.

"I think I’m really well prepared to do a job like that," she said. "I know enough about lobsters from my work at URI to be able to hold my own."

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