Thursday, April 26, 2007

From Algae to Fish

Well, we survived algae. It was a very tough section but our professor, Annette Olson, was very passionate about all things sessile and leafy in the intertidal. Her passion helped to make the section far more interesting than we ever thought it could be. We spent a few mornings out in the sun identifying species (and then playing frisbee). We also spent many afternoons and evenings in the lab drawing specimens, while fighting our desire to play volleyball in the sun.

The end of the algae section marked the end of our time with Margot (our TA for the past few weeks). We already miss her. She was really devoted, helpful and friendly. Thank you Margot for all of your help. We look forward to seeing you again!

We've now moved onto fish. Scott Heppell (our prof for this section) took us out to the bay yesterday. We did some net trawling: one person stands on the shore holding one end of a net and the other person gets in chest deep with the other end and walks in a crescent shape line. We found many really interesting little fish (and one large staghorn sculpin that we named Gary). One of the most interesting finds was the large quantity of baby salmonoids. We probably found nearly 100 of them in one of the trawls. We were very careful with them and put them back in the water as quickly as we could. Here's hoping that large number is a good sign for the salmon population!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tidepool Frisbee... and other anticks!

We might have been a little bit grouchy when we loaded up the vans at six-thirty this morning but once the sun came out over the tidepools at Strawberry Hill, things were looking up. The now familiar Hawaiian soundtrack from Jansen’s boom-box kept us smiling as Annette led us through the intertidal zone pointing out the different algae and how to distinguish them. We saw areas almost carpeted with analipus and its golden, goose-pimpled crust. All three coralline red algae were present for our evaluation (I think I can almost tell the difference now). After studying algae all week, we are beginning to identify these species on our own and enjoying noticing the habits and habitats of the algae. I also found a cute little limpet that grazes exclusively on the epibiotic algae on Pollicipes pollimerus. I thought that was pretty cool.

By the time we got down to the low zone, the surf was high and awesome. Examining the larger kelps, we ventured right down to the edge where the waves were breaking, testing our bravery to stand still as the waves crashed and rushed in. It was awesome. Every wave was like a train coming right at you, roaring to a halt as it crashed over the kelp beds and became foam at our boots. (well I guess we might have gotten a little bit wet, once or twice) The power of the ocean is truly humbling. I think that must be why we are all attracted to it.

There was a little impromptu karaoke on the beach and we passed the Frisbee all the way back to the vans. We stopped in Yachats on the way home to visit the Ye Old Green Salmon for coffee and pastries. Everything was so tasty we kept going back to the counter for more and it was hard to pull ourselves away.

Back at Hatfield, a game of beach volleyball started up and before too long, we had sixteen people (at least!!) We bumped and spiked and ran after the ball to the tune of salsa dance music for hours until we had to go in for lecture. Lab time quickly turned into free time as the warm sunshine enticed everyone to come outside. Robbie and Dan entertained with their guitar and drum and When the sun went down, we gathered at the Rogue Brewery to celebrate my birthday (thanks guys- you’re awesome!) and later enjoyed a little bonfire on the beach. What a day! ~Lou


A very happy birthday to you, Lou, from all your friends here at Hatfield and under the sea!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Here's lookin at you, Pisaster...

Last Friday we said goodbye to our invertebrate section, going out in style with our finals, dutifully administered by Sally and Margo. However, the fun didn't start there. It actually begin two days preious. The night: Wednesday. The location: the library conference room. We were all gathered for our "My Favorite Invertebrate" presentations, not to mention the accompanying cheese cake and coffee. Since creativity was apparently a factor in our grading for this project everyone came prepared to give their best (and potentially funniest) presentations of all time. And we did not fail!

Presentation subjects included sponges, anemones, nudibranchs, jellyfish, even a giant squid! People used costumes, song and dance routines, guitar solos, edible inverts, crazy salesman routines, a play, original art, and videos to make their presentations. There were many laughs shared and I'm sure that we walked away knowing a little more about our favorite inverts than we had earlier in the evening. (These pictures were taken by Kathryn Stewart-Smith)

Faced with a real homework-free weekend (a rare occurance during a normal term) we were almost at a loss for what to do. Two whole days to spend doing whatever you wanted? Very nice. Several people made the trip over the river and through the woods back to the valley but others chose to go diving or having other adventures on the coast. On Sunday several Intrepid Explorers made their way down to a wilderness area across the Alsea river about 8 miles up Highway 34 from Waldport. They made their way down through old growth forest to a lovely creek and skipped rocks and had lunch. They also found a large tree which they took pictures on. They decided that the creek was such a wicked cool place that it would be amazing to have an overnight there.

Which brings us to today, where we begin our week long adventure into Algae Land! Nothing more exciting than that.

-posted by Esther Eder

Monday, April 9, 2007

Invasive Arthropods

We met the arthropods today and my goodness they are neat! Sally gave us the lightning run down of the whole phylum and two guest lecturers introduced us to the arthropods they are studying. Sylvia Yamada told us about the European green crab, an introduced and potentially ruinous arthropod. She set traps for us and we got to check out a couple different species and even caught two green crabs! They're chilling in the lab, little do they know they will never see the light of day again... hahaha

After lunch, John Chapman (of HMSC) told us all about his pursuit of Orthione griffenis, another introduced arthropod. Orthione griffenis is an isopod parasite of Upogebia pugetensis (those charming blue bay shrimp from the mudflats) that according to John, may have been introduced as early as 1983 in ballast water. These little guys are pretty nasty: what they do is crawl inside the gill cavity of the shrimp and attach themselves there to suck blood right out of the shrimp's carapace. The female isopod can get pretty big, about 24mm. If 24mm doesn't scare you, imagine you are a shrimp, total length about 80mm. That little parasite is bigger than your head! What's worse, the isopods always come in pairs. The male, much smaller, actually lives off the female, latching onto her hips! (more or less)

So what are the implications of this introduced species? Potentially quite great. By removing nutrients from the shrimp, the parasite prevents it from reproducing (hey, if you had a parasite bigger than your head sucking your blood, you wouldn't be in the mood, either). Although some clam diggers might see Upogebia as a pest (their burrowing activities can burry clam recruits), they are extremely important habitat engineers. In an estuary like Yaquina Bay, they can filter up to 80% of the water and their burrows are used by lots of other invertebrates. John's surveys have revealed that 45% of Upogebia in Yaquina Bay (and maybe 80% of the sexually mature adults) are already parasitized by Orthione. So what's next? John is now studying why the parasite causes the shrimp to stop reproducing and how that is going to affect the population of Upogebia and the entire estuarine ecosystem.

You can probably see the male isopod (he's the little white guy). The female pretty much fills the shrimp's gill cavity and she's got a fat pile of eggs. We were able to pull them out with tweasers to get a closer look. Yep, they're pretty nasty. ~Lou

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Nudis and Cape Perpetua

On Thursday we headed out to Cape Perpetua to observe and gather specemins at Strawberry Hill. The weather was perfect and the tide pools were amazing!! On Wednesday we only managed to see a few nudibranchs but today there were everywhere! We have more than doubled our collection here in the lab and there is still one that we can't identify yet. This location is known for its large and bountiful supply of invertebrates and we found several things that we didn't see yesterday on top of the usual sea stars and anemones. By 10 AM it was 64 degrees out and when we got back a game of beach volleyball was started and provided entertainment for the rest of us while we ate lunch and sat on the porch. Everyone seems to be doing ok, some dealing with the sleep schedule better than others but we have almost survived our first week. Tomorrow we get to investigate the mud here in the bay and so we'll see how that goes. Laters ~ Kathryn

Above are a purple shore crab (Emigrapsus nudus) and a hermit crab without its shell.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Week 1 COMPLETE!!!!

Happy Friday!! It's been an insane week of a packed full schedule and every minute was at least interesting if not down right entertaining. Today's low tide wake up call took us to the mud flats. Our mission was simple: relearning how to walk. Shrouded by early morning fog, we arrived at Sally's Bend of Yaquina Bay and geared up...or, well, some of us geared down, way down. The key to mud mucking is to either wear a lot of gear or very, very little. I'm not giving names, but we even had a brave man sporting the Speedo! TOO FUNNY! What we wore didn't really matter; I think all of us lost a shoe at some point or another and DEFINITELY don't stand in one place too long. It sucks you in so fast! We had mud Frisbee, mud back stroke, mud wrestling...crazy, crazy kids I tell ya. We had a blast!! But most importantly we did get our work done.

The mud is a tan/buff color on the thin top layer with layers of very black underneath due to anoxygenic conditions (very low oxygen concentration). We discussed two habitat zones, middle and lower, with very different mud consistencies because of different mud shrimp species that inhabit them. We used a mud core to collect and identify specimens of each. Neotrypaea californiensis ("Ghost shrimp") are a sexually dimorphc species that are sediment feeders living in the middle zone. They are a waxy pale pink or orange color and can grow to about 10 cm. These are considered habitat engineers due to their ability to change the mud as they burrow and eat their way through it. VERY hard to stay afoot; don't forget to check for the photos. Pressing on further out into the flat we felt the mud consistency shift, signalling the lower zone where we found our second mud shrimp Upogebia pugettensis ("Blue mud shrimp"). It is tan to bluish-gray and grows to about 15 cm. In contrast to Neotypaea, it burrows into a hole and remains there throughout it's life. This behavior does not disrupt the sediments as much and allows us to walk with a bit more ease, and at this point we needed a break from the workout! Other invertebrates we collected included butter clams and various types of worms we haven't identified just yet. We took two salinity measurements at 25 and 27.

Returning from the field we set the specimens' new homes in the lab, hit the showers and headed into lectures by Dr. Sally Hacker and our guest from Dr. Weiss' lab, doctoral student Christine Schnitzler. We ended our day with a visit to our neighbors, the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Time to take a breath. Sitting in the dark library I'm reflecting on the past week and I feel I could write an adventure novel on each individual day. I want to fill in every detail. What an amazing week. I can't believe I'm so lucky to be here. Not only are studying hands on and being taught by some of the worlds most famous scientists we also just inherited a whole new huge network of friends! We're getting to know each other better and are starting to settle in.

More to come. ~Micah

Thursday, April 5, 2007

more photos on Picasa

I am also posting photos on Picasa which you can check out at and everyone can put pictures on there easily- just don't forget to put your name in the album title!! enjoy ~Lou

Web Photos!

We'll be posting group pictures on Flickr.
Go to:
to check out some pictures from the first week of classes.
More to come!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Cascade Head Hike

Tuesday started off with a lecture on coastal geography. What better way to learn this topic, than to actually go out and see it? We rode off in our 12 passenger vans North, past Depoe Bay, past Lincoln City, to 3 Mile Road. We parked at the trailhead and set off on foot. Little did we know just how far we had to go.

The hike to the first viepoint was ok. Sally set a fast pace, practically running down the trail, making it hard for us students to keep up. Then there were a lot of stairs. I mean a lot. It was definitely at least 11 stories of stair climbing. My legs were on fire.

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The scenery was quite nice though. Rich green foliage and the smell of coastal forest. It was good to be outside, even if we were literally working our butts off. Our counterparts back at Oregon State were sitting in desks, taking notes...while we were out hiking! We get credit for this? Excellent.

We hit the viewpoint and stopped to have lunch. Pictures abound. We took a group photo, or 6, as is the Hatfield tradition Sally claims exists. It was a pretty great view. We were right on the edge of a cliff, surrounded by protected grassland where an endangered butterfly lives.

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Someone almost lost their bag over the cliff. It was all rather exciting.

Then the hard part came. The hike to the next viewpoint was grueling. Kudos to those who powered up the hill, but I felt more like I was foot in front of the other. The older couple who jauntily strolled back down from the top made my question just how hard this hike really was...and how out of shape I really am. I checked the trail guide though and it is a pretty grueling second stretch. The first viewpoint was at an elevation of 520 ft. The second was at 1217ft. It was basically a set of switchbacks straight up the hillside. Not exactly a stroll in the park. I hope I can breeze up that bad boy when I'm 65.

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The walk back down was far easier. On the way home we stopped in Otis at the Otis Cafe. We got pie which was for the impending discussion of our 60 pages of reading on coastal formation and plate tectonics. Of course, the pies were in the van with Sally, so we proceeded to taunt the pie-less van with signs saying things like "We have pie" and "You don't". All we needed was a good "Ne-ner Ne-ner" to top it all off.

That night we sat around and ate pie in the Dining Hall as we all got to know each other a little better. I know it was day two, but I swear there were people there eating pie that I had never met before. Maybe there were...we did show our "We have pie" signs to more than just the other van of students.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

So lucky to be here

So for the first day of class, we had three hours of welcome speeches and tours, a walk-about on the Wecoma, and a great lecture from distinguished professor Jane Lubchenco. The evening was completed by a delicious pizza dinner courtesy of Itchung. Most of the group migrated to the Rogue Brewery (just down the street!) for a little extra-curricular "team building" (hey, someone want to let me in on what happened there?) Anyhow, it was the best first day of school ever. The Wecoma was amazing, I'd do anything to get on that boat. Everyone was super nice to us and we have keys for the library and we pretty much feel completely honored to be here. We're gonna work hard to earn all the support these wonderful people are giving us. Yea for marine biology! ~Lou