Sunday, April 23, 2017


After a brief break in both classes and coursework, a new week brings a new professor, a new TA, and a new subject: FISH!
Group photo from day one at Tokatee Klootchman
We dipped our toes into the new subject right away, spending the morning sloshing through the tide pools at Tokatee Klootchman in search of intertidal fish. In our rainiest field trip yet, we scooped up sculpin and gathered gunnels, bringing the best specimens back to the lab. After a brief lecture on general anatomy, we tried our best to apply what we learned, attempting to identify a number of fish specimens.
Paige and Nick wading through the water to do a beach seine.
Everybody loves a beach day! We spent the afternoon at an estuary beach, while a select few braved the water to drag seine nets and capture fish. We sorted, counted, measured, and identified a number of species, including pipefish, flatfish, and juvenile salmon. Our biggest catch of the week, with a TL of approximately 22cm, was Leptocottus armatus, the Pacific Staghorn Sculpin. This little excursion was followed by lecture on reproduction and life history, allowing us to better understand the journey of the young fish we had just caught.
As everyone was beginning to tire, we fought the mid-week blues with break in the morning for coffee and donuts. This was followed by a guest lecture from Dr. Bob Cowen about kelp forests and rocky reef habitats. We managed to experience a number of other habitats while escaping the stormy weather with an afternoon adventure to the AQUARIUM. Naturally, everyone gravitated to the open ocean exhibit, where sharks and rays take center stage.
Enclosed in the Aquarium’s longest tunnel, the class relaxed into a state of admiration and awe at the wonders of the deep. Sketching and photography ensued, along with identification of species and discussion of anatomical differences. The “Open Sea” exhibit houses 5 species of shark, schools of mackerel and anchovies, and bat rays. The largest shark species on display was the Broadnose Sevengill shark, Notorhynchus cepedianus. This shark is common along the Oregon Coast and can be identified by its unusual number of seven gills. Because of their gill number, they are thought to be related to ancient sharks, as fossils from the Jurassic period also boast seven gills. This oddity gives them the Guinness Book of World Records title for most gills!
Elakha cruise group two posing as their favorite fish: the English sole!
Thursday was the most highly anticipated day of the week: we got to spend the morning out on the Elakha, beam trawling and sorting fish for our research project. The early morning crew fought rain and sleepy eyes, but managed to have a blast. The afternoon crew was a bit luckier with the weather, and had just as much fun measuring and identifying fish. After a much needed lunch break, the afternoon took a slower pace, with a lecture on swimming and schooling followed by analysis of the trawl data. A small group of students then assisted Su and Miram in deploying light traps off the Pump House dock.

The final day of the week was all about the class room! We had the pleasure of two guest lectures, from Dr. Wayne Hoffman and Dr. Christian BreseƱo-Avena, about herring and plankton, respectively. Our lecture on plankton was immediately followed by a plankton identification lab. We used microscopes to identify species and count plankton, determining that in one light trap we had collected over 125,000 planktonic organisms!

This week was packed full of lectures, field adventures, and fish! The week went swimmingly, but there is still a lot more schooling to do before we finish up the section on fishes.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Finishing up Inverts!

Weekly Update:

Monday was one of our earliest days yet! We met up with Dr. Sylvia Yamada who taught us about the invasion of the Green Crab, Carcinus maenas. We've been pretty lucky with the weather so far. Our dry morning consisted of pulling crab traps at 2 different sites around HMSC. These pots were set by Sylvia, Caitlin, and Kass early the morning before.  We had quite a few, not only Carcinus Maenas, but also Hemigraspus oregonensis and Hemigraspus nudus. We even caught a sculpin in one of the minnow traps!

This was our longest day of lectures, with Sylvia's lecture, Sally's lecture on her favorite Phylum Tardigrada and then another guest lecture from John Chapman on the invasion of the isopod, Orthione griffenis. Throughout the week we were continuously working on finishing up our 10 notebook drawings of invertebrates we had in the lab, and studying for the final and lab practicum on Friday.

Tuesday was a wonderful stress free study break to our busy week of preparing for the final. We took a lovely excursion up Cascade Head, to view some coastal headlands we've been learning about.

Lava flows from Northeast Oregon have supplied our coast with many basalt headlands. Activity from plate tectonics, specially the subduction zone off our coast, has caused these headlands to rise from the sediment below. It is crazy to think about such so many forces acting together for millions of years to create these beautiful landscapes we now get to enjoy.

The weather was on our side, no rain and barely any wind! Although we won't go as far as saying it was sunny. The rest of the afternoon was "free" for more drawing and studying.

We had our last invertebrate lectures on Wednesday, then a long break to prepare for our Favorite Invert Presentations! (Not to mention dessert extravaganza!) It was a long but fun night of enthusiastic presentations. We learned the 'true facts'  of a diverse range of inverts, from Deep Sea Tube Worms (from a tube worm herself), to Peacock Mantis Shrimp, to the Giant Pacific Octopus. Many laughs and many desserts, it was quite a fun way to have presentations!

Thursday was a day to prepare for the exam. Without having classes it (almost) felt like a weekend, except for the part about studying all day and night. We spent some time in the lab, practicing our identification and latin names. The weather was on and off rainy, pretty perfect for being curled up inside studying but with enough sunny breaks to go on walks and de-stress.

The next day was game day. Not having class in the morning made it feel like a weekend yet again, although there was that one big thing hanging over our heads. It seemed as if everyone was studying right up until the last minute. Once we finished both the exam and the lab practical, it was clean up time. Animals were either returned to Boiler Bay or consolidated into one tank. Tanks were emptied and cleaned in preparation for fish collection next week! As the sun came out everyone departed their separate ways, some returning to Corvallis, some going camping in Florence and some relaxing at home. It was a bitter sweet ending, happy to be done with the exam, but sad that we loose Sally and Caitlin. Onto marine fishes we go!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Welcome to HMSC BI 450!

Today marks week one of our time here at Hatfield for BI 450, it has been very busy but extremely fun. 9 am Monday morning we all migrated the 500 feet from our apartments to the classroom for a tour of the campus and introduction to the staff. We later learned about the landscape of the Oregon coast and why marine biology is important (even though Sally was preaching to the choir).

Students collecting invertebrates at Boiler Bay. On the right is a
boiler from an old ship that crashed here 107 years ago, hence
the name: Boiler Bay. 
Tuesday was more eventful, we began learning marine invertebrate phylums, starting with Porifera -the sponges. We then went out for our first day of fieldwork to Boiler Bay. The tide pools were amazing and rich with biodiversity. Everyone clomped around in their raingear with little cups and sketchily rust scrappers collecting animals. This trip had probably the highest turnover rate of all our trips this week, collecting organisms from crabs to snails to nudibranchs to urchins to chitons and so much more.

Wednesday we learned about anemones, corals and jellies of the phylum Cnidaria then were inaugurated into the HMSC wide tradition of coffee and donut break. Of course free donuts were great, but it was also nice to talk to staff at Hatfield that we otherwise wouldn’t interact with. We learned about their research and helpful hints about the town -such as where to find agates, chanterelles and good hikes. After some lab work and lunch we drove out to Tokatee Klootchman for more fieldwork. This intertidal was harder to find organisms in -especially since we had already collected so many the previous day- but we were able to expand our inventory, including many Aeolidia papillosa and a Hermissenda crassicornis!
Right: Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Left: Chrytochiton stelleri
Thursday was probably the most exciting day of the week. We started the morning off with some awesome worm lectures and then headed off to the mudflats to collect more invertebrates. Before leaving, Sally surprised everyone with some chocolate cake for Miranda’s twenty-first and Sammy’s twenty-second birthdays (thanks Sally!). The mudflats were a blast. The mud was extremely hard to walk through because it was so soft and deep. Almost everyone took a fall or two! The most adventurous of us managed to get all the way to the water’s edge where we were waist deep in mud and had to resort to crawling on our hands and knees to keep from sinking. Despite the challenge, we found tons of worms, crabs, and shrimp that we took back to the lab, along with lots of mud!
Alanna digging for worms!
Friday went a little differently than we had planned. We were supposed to go on a fun hike up to Cascade Head, but the strong winds and heavy rain forced us to change our schedule around. Instead, we had some interesting lectures on Molluscs and Lophophorates, and then lots of lab time to finish up the three notebook entries that were due at the end of the day.
Saturday was Marine Science Day at Hatfield. The education building was packed with booths and exhibits showing off scientists’ research and educating the public about the wonders of the ocean. We took turns telling guests about all of the invertebrates that we had collected in the field this week, which turned out to be a pretty handy study tool for our final next Friday! It was really fun to see everyone so excited about marine biology. David also turned twenty one and got to share his day with Marine Science Day!

While walking on the beach this weekend we found hundreds of stranded Velella velellas due to the high winds on Friday. This was especially interesting because we had just learned about this species in lecture on Wednesday. These jellies have clear ‘sails’ that project out of the water and catch winds to locomote. 50% of the population is born with sails twisted to the right and the other 50% has sails twisted to the left. This means that large winds will separate the population in half to opposite sides of the Pacific ocean.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Final Week! Presentations and Papers:
It is presentation and paper week, all of the research and field work from last week is coming together in one final day. Families, friends, scientists, and past professors are back to see what we have been able to see what we could accomplish on our own. For many groups this week has been a lot of data entry calculations and writing. Coming back from last week’s research, each student had to write a 5-page research paper on what study they conducted the previous week. As well as the paper, each group had to make a 15-minute presentation of the project with their group. With those two things being the only thing needed to be done during the week the week work for most of us was writing our paper with a rough draft due Wednesday. Then after rough drafts were in we would have Wednesday and Thursday to work on the presentation and any final changes for our paper. Then Friday was the accumulation of all of our work.  

Lucy, Kaylie, and Stephanie getting Friday started
with the first presentations

Here we can see the first presenters of the day Lucy, Kaylie, and Stephanie. They kicked off Friday with an awesome presentation about the work they have been doing about sea urchin feeding preference. There were three presentations the first half of the day. Then a little lunch break and then the final four presentations.

Here we can see Taylor help with
 the final lab clean up
Looking at the past 10 weeks I know that all of us have made many new lasting friendships and memories. There was so much that everyone has seen and experienced from living out at Hatfield. Having all of us living so close and spending every week together definitely created an atmosphere where of growth and more importantly fun with learning. Learning under some of the best instructors in their area of marine biology has been a blast. Not many students are lucky enough to have a such a caring and involved group of instructors and assistants. I can speak for everyone when I say thanks to all of our professors, grad students, and everyone else who made this term as amazing as it was. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Corin and Ginger in the office.
It’s projects week – everyone has been working tirelessly in the lab, field and library to slowly expand our collective understanding of nature. We have all been focused on our final projects and we have no scheduled class to distract us. On our own or in small groups we are working on varied projects that include sea urchin and gastropod feeding experiments, trapping European green crab and investigating shell preference in hermit crabs.
Mussel beds at Yachats Beach, one of our study sites. Cormorants and
 other seabirds are visible further back.
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science."
-Edwin Powell Hubble

My group have spent many hours in the field this week to survey the invertebrate communities in tide pools. We want to know if mobility is an important factor in allowing species to live in the high intertidal zone where they will be subject to warmer water, lower dissolved oxygen concentrations, and reduced access to open water for releasing their sperm and eggs. We reasoned that mobile species might be able to jump ship and change tide pool if their home gets too warm or begins to dry out. Sessile organisms that are fixed to the rock do not have that luxury and so we expect to see fewer mussels, anemones and barnacles in tide pools in the high intertidal compared to lower tide pools that are submerged for longer each tide. Larger tide pools are presumably less stressful and so we think we will find that sessile organisms are more common in the larger tide pools that we surveyed. A few more hours of data preparation and analysis and we will know if our suspicions were correct. We are eager to see the results of our analysis and find out if our data do show the trends that we expect to find.

Grant and co. employing the transect-quadrat method
that we learnt from Prof Menge in the ecology section.

Grant's group noticed a pattern in the distribution of algae in the high intertidal - Pelvetiopsis and Fucus both inhabit the high intertidal, but Pelvetiopsis is consistently found higher up and their distributions don't appear to overlap. They went to Boiler Bay, Strawberry Hill, Seal Rock and Tokatee Klootchman to do community surveys and they ran small experiments in the lab to measure how gastropod feeding rates and water retention differ between the two species. It looks like Pelvetiopsis is more vulnerable to drying out than Fucus so their must be other factors that maintain their current distribution.

Gastropod feeding experiments with limpets and snails.
Students in our class have seen whales, brown pelicans, harbour seals, sea lions and a pod of orcas in the field this week. Thankfully the weather has been excellent and so while everyone has been working hard this week has still been rather idyllic.