Thursday, May 29, 2008

Final Fiesta

Our first stop was to see the cobra like flower the Darlingtonia, it lures insects in with tantalizing nectar and brilliant colors once inside they get confused, it traps and then digests them. We only caught a glimpse and we were off for Honeyman.

We got a taste of the dunes with our lunch.

Upon arrival at the Umpqua Dunes we were excited to see no rain. We began our hike climbing the dune.

It felt like we were in the desert just walking and walking and walking. Then we came upon an oasis. Well, not really it was actually just a pond with some shrubs.

We continued our trek where upon nearing the wetland area we found cute little frogs of all colors. The wetlands were not there historically but with the introduction of Ammophilia the sand was stabilized and the dunes changed shape. A foredune was created and behind it moisture built up, providing a wetland habitat for many species.

Finally we made it to the beach, there were many sand dollars collected, a lone girl (Megan Cook) ventured in for a swim. Then it began to mist, causing us to begin our homeward journey.I didn't remember it being so steep. A last group field trip photo and we headed for pizza.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Only Two Weeks Left!

After returning from a fabulous 3 day weekend it was back to work. Sally started out the day with a lecture on Community Ecology. We discussed Estuaries before heading out to the Salt Marsh in front of our apartments here at Hatfield.
We stopped to chat on the boardwalk before venturing into the Salt Marsh. First we stopped and ate some Salicornia, an edible plant that can be pickled. It was very salty.

Sally busted out the Redox meter and began testing the mud for oxygen content. In a Neotrypaea (ghost shrimp) burrow the redox meter read 10, but in the black anoxic mud the oxygen content was as low as -299. Here is Aleshia taking measurements.

Along for the journey was another fun tool the Refractometer. Ashley, a little confused at first used it to measure the salinity of the water.

We wandered around the marsh for awhile looking at unique plants like Triglochin, which smells like coriander. We also found a now rare three edged plant used by Native Americans for basket weaving. Our T.A. Jeremy got stuck in the mud. Tomorrow the dunes...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Research Extravaganza!

Hello 450 faithfuls!

If you've been reading our blog up until now, it's fairly apparent that our schedule is pretty rigorous. This week, however, we've been set loose on the intertidal! That's right: we get to conduct our very own research! Basically, the last three weeks of the course are set aside (well, mostly) for these over-arching projects. The best part is, we can look into whatever we want! Let the evil plans commence! Bwahahahaha!

The project subjects range from work with crabs to work with urchins, limpets, chitons, sea stars, snailfish, sculpin and tidepools! There are many interesting ideas and setups. The creative jucies are definitely flowing! Things are just underway though, so more is definitely to come. We should be looking forward to some very interesting data and presentations come Week 10!

Oh, it's not all fun-and-games, though...waking up at 5 AM to scour the rocky intertidal can be pretty trying, not to mention tiring! We split some of the class into two groups (SH and BB) to get the projects underway. Other groups took their own initiative and worked on their own elsewhere. We all know that Strawberry Hill is usually a blast, but not at 6 in the morning. Boiler Bay wasn't much better. Thankfully to save some of us from getting even sicker the weather held up fairly nicely and the rain subsided. Still, with these comprising 25% of our total grade for the course, we think that it's worth it (rain or shine!).

A photo of the Strawberry Hill crew:

Various research project photos:
Calista and Ashley hard at work in the lab:

Their setup:

Megan Poole's setup:

Sean, Alissa and Shiane's setup:

More photos to come later in the week! ;)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Answer: Have someone throw it at you

Our riddle has been answered (see previous blog titles), hopefully you all guessed somewhat close! (Although I know with this weeks lectures, we could have come up with many conservation answers to our riddle about ecosystem based management, marine reserves, and ecosystem restoration.)

Wednesday was spent down South of Hatfield in an ongoing restoration effort. First we headed out to Yachats City Hall for a passionate lecture by Paul Engelmeyer . He informed us of ongoing projects that he and several other members of the Audubon Society have been working on. He also described the state of many salmon, rockfish, sea birds, and mammals that have raised concerns along the Oregon coasts.

After a quick diversion on the City Hall playground, we were off in our vans to meet up with Chris, who had been monitoring a section of Ten Mile Creek searching mostly for juvenile salmon swimming out to sea and back again. Chris explained their methods of collecting and releasing the younger fish back upstream. He also showed us a few examples of different aged species living in the cool waters. One thing Paul pointed out to us was the extreme importance of loose logs and stumps that provide a habitat and refuge for the larvae, eggs, and younger species (They are similar to Kelp beds in marine environments that create a more 3-D structured habitat).

From there we did some trekking through a few wooded areas, concentrating mostly on forest growth and habitat restoration. We also enjoyed our delicious packed lunches while listening to Jack, another important contributor to the restoration project.

Thursday began with a lecture on ecosystem based management and meetings about our conservation presentations (to be given Friday afternoon). After a sweltering lunch hour, we headed back into the classroom (or what some deemed as "sauna" due to extreme Newport temperatures). Our afternoon was filled with questions such as "Should marine reserves be in state waters?" and "How do we MANAGE these marine reserves?" There to help inform us about current Oregon policies and political contreversies was Dr. Selina Heppell. Her discussion left with plenty to think about:

**What evidence is needed to answer the question, “why do we need marine reserves in Oregon state waters?”

Well, that about wraps up conservation week. Hope you all had fun and can now explain the difference between MPAs, EBM, Marine sanctuaries, and Marine reserves. Good luck on Friday's presentations and op-eds! And don't forget, as Karen pointed out to us, we are the future of marine conservation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Question: What is the best way to catch a fish?

Yesterday we started off our conservation biology week with a slew of celebrities including Dr. Jane Lubchenco and former President Bill Clinton (who was speaking just a hop, skip, and jump away from Hatfield)! (Not to mention our infamous marine ecologist, professor, and amazing van driver- Dr. McLeod)

While Bill Clinton was entertaining the rest of Newport, we were more interested in Dr. Lubchenco's two lectures she gave on marine conservation biology. She touched on topics such as global ocean trends, fishing practices, climate change, and options for the future. Dr. Lubchenco talked about declining fish stocks on a global scale giving such options for improving them as: improving fishery management and enforcement, adopting ecosystem and evolutionary management, establishing networks of no-take marine reserves, making aquaculture sustainable, and aligning economic and environmental incentives. We also had an afternoon discussion with our new professor for the week, Dr. Karen McLeod. We talked about science, policy and ethics and everyone was fired up and interested about the topic and their ideas were very broad. We discussed what the difference between a scientist and an advocate is and how they can walk a very fine line.
Today, we had a lecture on fisheries and took a trip down to the Newport docks to investigate the fisherman's side of the conservation biology we'd learned the day before. Charlie from Local Ocean Seafoods took us on a tour to look at boats and talk to fishermen such as the man pictured below. He talked to us about different types of fishing and the methods he uses. He was a Salmon fisherman until the fishery was closed this year. Pictured below (from right to left) are weights used in Salmon fishing, empty weight containers on a boat no longer fishing for Salmon, and how expensive the "last" wild Salmon fillet is.

The fisherman has now moved on to Tuna as well as Lingcod. Some fishermen we saw were remodeling their boats in order to start fishing for Hagfish instead of their usual fish in hopes of finding more money on the Asian market. Hagfish are long, jawless fish that release slime when scared and so the fishermen have nicknamed them "Slime Eels." You wouldn't want to sit down to a Hagfish dinner now would you?!

After our tour we went back to Local Ocean Seafoods and Charlie did a fish filleting demonstration. He showed us how to fillet a Lingcod and a Rockfish. Pictured below, the mouth of a Lingcod! He told us a funny story about a time he was attempting to fillet a Lingcod and it had no intentions of being filleted! He had to wrestle with it and even took out its brain and it still wouldn't die! He eventually got it on the filleting table brainless but still moving. After his demonstration he let Sean get in on the filleting action!

We wrapped up our day with a discussion, this time on sustainable fisheries and seafood as well as catch share programs. Through catch share programs, fishermen are given a share of the total allowable catch and given the flexibility and accountability for meeting it. Throughout our discussion there were a lot of questions brought up about how we are going to maintain current fish stocks. Hope everyone has gotten a good start on our conservation research projects for Friday, we'll be back with the answer to our riddle next time!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dissection Day!

Hope everyone had a steady hand today in our fish dissection lab. We had rock fish on the cutting board, which was graciously donated by Local Oceans Seafood (best seafood in town). First we had to identify which species we had and then we got to dig in to identify the internal organs.
From the image above we can see the liver, heart, and intestines very clearly. The most interesting part of the dissection was retrieving the lens from the eye and two of the otoliths from the head. We can see these both in the image below with the lens on the bottom and otolith on the top.

Determining the sex of a dead fish is always exciting. We can tell this by removing the gonads and looking at the shape of them in a cross section. For males the cross section is triangular as opposed to females, which are more rounded. We can see an example of female gonads in the image below.

And of course we had to have some fun!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gone Fishing!

There’s nothing like starting your week with a little dash of statistical analysis! With our community ecology presentations on Tuesday, Monday was a day full of analyzing data the class collected over the previous week in the field. The class split into groups to highlight and discuss the predator feeding dynamics, biodiversity, tidal pool diversity and community structure of Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill. Many hours of hard work produced great results when Tuesday morning all the groups presented their findings. It was rewarding to watch our personal data evolve into the recognizable trends we study in class. Also on Tuesday, we wrapped up the community ecology unit with a charming exam written by Dr. Bruce Menge. During that celebration of learning we had the opportunity to showcase our mastery of the Oregon intertidal, or perhaps our mastery of a small glimpse of the intertidal communities. We’re sure all emerged with flying colors.

Wednesday was a well-needed day of rest for all of the Hatfielders. A few dedicated classmates just couldn’t get enough of the intertidal and spent the day tidepooling and relaxing on the beach. Others couldn’t get enough of their pillows and caught up on some necessary sleep hours.

Thursday morning began swimmingly with our introduction to Dr. Scott Heppell and our fish unit! After a morning of lectures we met once again with our dear friend- the intertidal mudflat. Rather than digging for Upogebia sp. today’s adventure was beach seining. We used a quarter inch mesh net, four feet tall and fifty feet long to catch bay fish along the water’s edge. A dedicated class mate would wade out about chest deep in the water carrying one end of the net until it was outstretched. Their partner on the beach would walk along combing the water with the net. After approximately thirty feet of collection the deep edge was brought back to shore capturing any fish that may have been within the sampling area. Fish were identified and counted by our eagerly waiting class and then returned to the estuary. Most fish we found we small juveniles, presumably using the estuary as a nursing ground. We identified English sole, pipefish, chum salmon, smelt, and many species of sculpin. Samples were returned to lab so we could begin our drawings and descriptions for lab notebooks.

We are looking forward to a great day tomorrow with a trawling trip aboard the RV Elahka and a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It will be very exciting to get to sample the larger life of Yaquina Bay that swims each day just outside our classroom. Think sunny thoughts!