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!

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