Friday, June 5, 2009

Blog Week 10

As we are all putting the final finishing touches on our projects and polishing up those presentations, I hope that we can all take a minute and reflect on this past term. Writing this blog has forced Nathan and I to travel back, (only ten weeks ago!) to when we first started this grand adventure. Here’s a few of our favorite moments from the past term:

1) Mudfights at Sally’s Bend. I’m not sure if it was a “fight” or a general free-for-all-get-everybody-as-muddy-as-you-can-fiasco. That was ten weeks ago and I don’t remember but either way, it was fun as hell.
2) Midnight paper ball fights in the library. Yeah… Unprovoked massacres of the “Quiet Side” by the “Collaborative Side”. And sometimes all out, balls-to-the-wall library wars. And on that note, library climbing, library Olympics, general library adventures, etc. were awesome. Don’t worry Sally, we didn’t break anything… too badly.
3) The 4th Invertebrates Presentation and Dessert Extravaganza. I remember Reed doing a ridiculous crab dance, some other hooligans performing another dance to Maddona, and an educational video about a new drug craze: The Green Tide. (I’ve tried it myself, and now I see why this thing could sweep the nation.)
4) Monday night dance parties. Reason? Because we can’t party on Thursday because we have finals on Friday.
5) Water balloon massacres on the Bunk House (and other miscellaneous pranks on the bunk house).
6) Annette eating, drinking, and partying with us after the algae section.
7) Donut Wednesdays. Nuff said.
8) Pirate day on the Elakah
9) Hotel party.
10) No Final for Karen’s section.
11) TAs playing sand vol with us.

And as the term ends and we part ways heading off to summer jobs, summer school, or *gasp* the real world. We all leave with a tear in our eye and look forward to the Hatfield Reunion in 2010.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh my god it's projects week!

The plot thickens....
Monday morning came to greet us for the first time without a class day, but we still had a full week ahead of us in a different way....RESEARCH PROJECTS!!
And so it began...the chaos bubble came rolling in quickly, in fact some of us spent the weekend filling buckets with ice to try to keep a so called "cold room" cold, turned out that we were using the wrong thermostat to try to control the temperature the whole time, ah the perils of being new to research (and knowing what a thermostat looks like :).
Others of us scrambled to collect enough specimens to get the ball rolling. Learning how to collect and document data in a way that makes sense has been quite interesting as well.
There has been bartering to acquire and keep hold of supplies, as we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Still we are oddly enough maintaining some sort of schedule and learning to be quite resourceful in the mean time.

From harassing fisherman at the docks to acquire crabs, numerous store visits for random supplies to rigging hand made filtration systems to tanks, we have persevered and should have some interesting presentations next week to show for it given that no one decides to have a melt down in the mean time, hee hee hee :).
We are almost done and getting sad about the thought of leaving, though we will definately enjoy the much need rest after this.

Despite some sleepless nights, we are getting to do science which is the coolest part of all. We have learned so much so far. Finally we get to use the knowledge we aquired through this course, our wonderful instructors, and T.A.'s, to produce something all our own. Exciting!
Till then bloggers, the project mayhem continues and we are still head strong and going full steam ahead!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Adventures of the BI 450 class: week 8

This week the BI 450 class continued to work with renowned ecologist Bruce Menge and his teaching assistant Alison Iles. No more field work for us. Nope, it's time to crunch the numbers! The class was divided five ways, each studying a different set of data including tide pool diversity, transect quadrats, belt transects, algae and invertebrate biodiversity, and Whelk and Pisater predator/prey studies. The projects proved to be a lot of graph making but we ended up with some interesting results.

After Bruce's test on Thursday, the BI 450 students worked furiously to write and turn in their project proposals. Though projects don't officially start until week nine, some students have already been collecting data. For example: Students Mackenzia Sullivan, Tyler Van Demelen, and Chelsea Stover were able to set up 20 pit-fall crab traps on Tuesday in the notoriously muddy Sally's bend in Yaquina Bay, Oregon. Also Kailtyn Mac Leod and Kaley Lischke have recently been seining in South Beach for bay Pipefish as part of their project. You may be wondering what students are studying. Well you'll have to wait and see!!!

In other silly news, in celebration of the return of beloved invertebrate professor Sally Hacker, the BI 45o class collaborated to surprise Sally with their own 80's day, dressing in the finest fashions of the 80's. Needless to say Sally got a good laugh and the class immensely enjoyed themselves!

Well that's all the news for this week. Stay tuned for next weeks adventures of the BI 450 class!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ecology and Biodiversity Galore!

Hello all! This week brought Dr. Bruce Menge, world-renowned ecologist, out to Hatfield to show us the ins and outs of Community Ecology on the Oregon Coast. This was a week that could make or break any aspiring marine ecologist. With Bruce came very early tides, forcing us out of bed in the early morning hours for field outings to collect as much data as humanly possible. Most days included morning field trips followed by data entry and a lecture. In addition to learning data collection techniques in the intertidal zone, the week was a culmination of everything we have been working on up to this point.

Monday began at 5 am when we crawled out of bed for our first field trip of this section for some community sampling and transect surveys. We loaded up and by six we were headed out to a familiar spot: Boiler Bay. There we received a crash course in field sampling methods for the intertidal zone and every group was able to play a part in collecting data. This allowed us all the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience which some of us might even use this summer for internships.

On Tuesday we were allowed to sleep in a tad longer before we took off to another well-known spot: Strawberry Hill. There we had a day much like Monday where each group was assigned a different task for collecting data. Luckily by Tuesday we were all somewhat well-versed in data collection and the day went more smoothly for everyone.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent time at Boiler Bay and Strawberry hill again, respectively. But on these two days we all individually focused on Biodiversity Surveys. This meant that we all had a data sheet and we separated ourselves into three zones (low, mid, and high) and spent half an hour in each zone marking off all of the either algae or invertebrate species which we could find. These were both more relaxed fun days for us. And Thursday even brought us surprises in the form of adorable seal pups at Strawberry Hill and a couple members of our class enjoying the cool, refreshing tide pool water…

Outside of class on Thursday, during a rousing game of sand volleyball, we learned that there was a washed up baby whale in Depoe Bay! So those of us present took off North up the 101 and scoured the beaches for a dead whale. Unfortunately we learned that the whale was in a small cove inaccessible from land and we were only able to see it from a distance.

The end of the week brought us a very short day with only one lecture in the morning. This allowed us time to work on our biodiversity projects in groups, and to play some sand volleyball in the afternoon. After an intense week this was a much needed break.

Overall the field section of Marine Community Ecology was a fast-paced, fun-filled, whirlwind of a learning experience which was valuable to all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A conservative week for conservation

After three fastball weeks of memorizing species and working hard in the field, the Bio 450 class threw us a change up last week with regular days and only one in the field. Three out of the five days had very similar schedules. Lectures were regular and discussions in the afternoons were a great trade from the late hours of drawing in our notebooks and identifying species till early hours in the morning. Karen McLeod gave a variety of lectures on marine conservations issues. She started by giving us a good overview of the state of the oceans and what policies were in place as well as what that meant in the science world. Karen then moved on to talk about marine reserves, fisheries, and other economical roles of the ocean. After each morning lecture informing us of these issues, she would always follow with an afternoon lecture on how to best approach them. The highlights this week included a field trip up ten mile creek: Hiking through a beautiful forest in the rain, learning about fish habitat restoration projects, and learning about endangered birds in the area. At the end of the week we had a full day of student presentations where we could dive deeper into the issues that we wanted to become learned about, and then present them to the class.

Student presentations were much more formal than the presentations about inverts or the in-lab presentations of algae. Dressed in our best we delivered presentations on current issues. Throughout the day we learned about hypoxia, coastal development, Humboldt squid, ocean acidification, jelly fish blooms, shark fining, wave energy, harmful algal blooms, and even seafood origination labeling. This was a very mixed array of knowledge but never the less enthralling. We also got to eat cookies shaped like squid and some that were not.
Tuesday Morning we got a special talk delivered by Karen describing her work with COMPASS. She explained to us how the organization compiles credible research data and facilitates the scientific community. By developing a concerted front, the labor of many professionals can be channeled into an effective political tool. The focus is kept away from public education and outreach, in order to reinforce the goal of commitment towards policy amendment.
On Wednesday we got the chance to hike at Ten-Mile Creek, the site including the largest stand of old-growth remaining in the nation! It was pouring rain almost continuously, so we kept morale high by calling in the owls (unsuccessfully). The focus of the trip was to give us a tour of the stream restoration project, and to show us the methods used for sampling fry and smelt. We got to see Salmon, river Sculpin, and even a Lamprey! The fish were chemically sedated so we could take a closer look. We had a brief talk regarding the restoration of the stream, including the removal of old roads, and the input of timber utilizing helicopters. We also had the chance to learn about a unique species that nests in the Pacific North-West. The Marbled Murrelet uses moss platforms high in the branches of old-growth evergreens. It will fly in from the ocean, travelling many miles inland to find protected home sites. Flying back and forth to the ocean to gather food for the young is not uncommon. This site at ten-mile creek is one of the last remaining habitats suitable for the species. Corvids, mainly crows, have begun to compete in most areas because the chicks are left unattended.
The most notable topic from our field-trip was the discussion about fry-boxes for hatchery steelhead and salmon. We learned that attempts to include the public in raising stocks have perhaps been counter-productive. Usually the hatchery stocks lose much of their natural instinct, as well as the ability to sense a home range. They also compete strongly enough with native fish to have become a serious threat. In the end it doesn’t matter whether we retain all that we heard. We have all been struggling to cope overstressed. And as it turns out, school doesn’t get much better than this!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A is for Algae...

…And Freakin’ A!!!! Week 5 started Monday April 27th at 6:45am, which was rough as most of us are not morning people.We headed out to Boiler Bay to continue our algae education (the algae section started Thursday of week 4) collecting brown and red algae specimens to bring back to the lab. Annette tried to teach us about the algae in the lower intertidal but was pretty well thwarted by uncooperative waves. There were a lot of mixed feelings on this fieldtrip, some were tired and possibly a little bored, some were trying to be optimistic, but most of us were trying really hard to focus on what Annette had to say. Upon moving to another section of the intertidal, some of our classmates found a very special algae, Egregia, which is commonly known as the feather boa. We all agree that this is a very classy look. The rest of Monday was filled with lectures and lab time focused on phylum Ochrophyta, aka the Phaophytes, aka brown algae.

Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful day, despite the forecast of rain and 40 degree weather. We left for Seal Rock at 7:45am with a much needed extra hour of sleep. We had some reminders of our days studying inverts, which now seems like a long time ago, but then quickly returned our focus to algae. On this trip we found another interesting algae, Desmerestia which secretes an acid and should not be stored with other algae. The next neat looking algae is Postelsia palmaeformis, which ironically looks like something tropical here on the Oregon coast. Back in the rocks at Seal Rock called the “needles,” there was algae that couldn’t be seen from the beach which was a treat for those who dared to climb through. Finally, we found that algae can be fun! This bull kelp makes a great jump rope! Rock encrusting Codium setchellii

could be found surrounded by other algae including Mazzaella spp. and a bushy branched red algae that would have to be identified in the lab. Tuesday and Wednesday we spent a lot of time in class and lab learning about phylum Rhodophyta, aka Red algae, aka the ”Dreaded Reds.”

Wednesday came quickly and we spent a large portion of the day setting up for our group projects. The projects entailed each group becoming experts on a specific type of algae through out the week and presenting them to the class Wednesday night with the main focus of helping each other out for the final and lab practicum. This also came in handy on Thursday when we had lab review because then we were not fighting over Annette like usual because there were experts at all the sections. We then studied all day and all night Thursday for our finals Friday. After the final and lab practicum some parents showed up for Mom’s weekend and we had an awesome chicken dinner/ get together to finalize our week of FREAKIN’ A!!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

50-50 Fish and Algae: The Perfect Combination!

Ahoy, mateys! Arrrgh, this exciting week began with a voyage on one of OSU's two research vessels, the Elakha, dressed as pirates. Instead of pillaging and plundering, we went trawling for fish in Yaquina bay. The first trip departed bright and early in the wee hours of the morning, and proved to be more successful than the later trip, catching sculpin, gunnels, starry flounder, and a Pacific sanddab. The second group of scallywags was defeated in a battle just before their turn to board the Elahka. Although the weather was nicer, all they caught was a few flounder. Oh, and some sea stars.

After the voyage on the Elahka, it was full speed ahead to the aquarium where we went on a treasure hunt to find our assigned fishes for a habitat study.

The rest of the day was a scramble to put the finishing touches on our presentations for that evening. We had to create a proposal for marine protected areas off of the Oregon coast. Everyone from the "local community" was there to hear out our proposals: the upset fishermen, critical scientists, annoying ocean resource managers, tree-hugging (or in this case fish-hugging) hippies, and of course the town crazies, who looked a lot like Reed and Mackenzie...

After a late night of cramming, our two exams went off without a hitch. We were glad to have the rest of day and Wednesday off to do absolutely nothing and prepare for the beginning of our algae section on Thursday. We started off with a nice transition between animals and plants, where Annette Olson had us think of different interactions - both good and bad - between algae and sea critters - including limpet hats (an invertebrate we studied weeks ago shows up wearing cute algae attire!). We ended the week with a trip to seal rock on a beautiful day to collect algae specimens for our group presentations. Luckily for Gimpy (aka Kaley), there isn't a hike down a steep cliff to get to the Seal Rock site. We encountered many different types of algae, and learned the very important lesson of which algae you can walk on and not fall on your butt, "Endo is our friendo". There were a lot of specimens for the 'little brown people,' but not so many for other groups.

From our short preview on algae thus far, we can be sure that we will learn a lot in this coming week. Finally we will know the difference between green algae that's really green and green algae that's really red. As well as what these little things are...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Week 3 Marine Fishes

Week 3 started out by welcoming Scott Heppell, Assistant Professor (Senior Research), from Fisheries & Wildlife to our class to teach the Marine Fishes section.

Monday started by heading out to the Yaquina Bayfront and netting fish using a seine net to collect shallow bay fishes. These specimens were then taken back to our lab for study and classification.

Tuesday was a day filled with lecture and a disection of fish. We all disected either an Albacore Tuna, a Black Rockfish or a Dover Sole. We looked at their internal organs and how they are specialized for the lifestye of the fish: such as the large heart of the Tuna, fitting for its high energy lifestyle.

On Wednesday we returned to Strawberry Hill but this time with hand nets in hand to collect tidepool fishes. We then returned to the classroom for a facinating lecture on ontogenetic shift which is a change in lifestyle associated with growth and development. Later, Scott presented a section on the reproductive biology of fishes.

On Thursday Boiler Bay was our destination to collect marine fish while Gray Whales fed just offshore of the bay. Later in the day during lab we learned how to use otoliths (the ear bone of fish) to determine the age of fish and what we can learn about their life history from the spacial arrangment of the rings. This data especially comes in handy when studying the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. By looking at the rings scientist can decifer whether it was a good year of biological productivity or whether food sources were scarce (much like that of the rings of terrestrial trees) often linked to an increase of temperature in the oceans.

Friday was spent in lecture learning about Fish Habitat, the Red Grouper as an ecosystem engineer, and about fisheries and their impact on the ocean's resources. Also preparation took place on the group project determining which areas would be suitable to conserve as Natural Resource Reservations.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This Week in HMSC: Guests Lectures, Confused Fishermen, and Cramming for a Test

Oh snap! The second week of BI 450 is passing us in a flash and it’s been great!

The week started out with two very informed guest lectures. First was an in depth look at the mechanisms of invasive species from Dr. John Chapman, focusing on Yaquina Bay’s own mud shrimp, Upogebia pugenttensis, and its quite damaging isopod parasite Orthione griffensis, a relationship we saw first hand last week while visiting Sally’s Bend. Then we had a talk from Dr. Sylvia Yamada, a specialist on the invasive European Green Crab. Sylvia took us down to the shore of HMSC to take data on the crabs she caught so we could get an idea of how diverse the range of species is in our backyard. Much pinching of fingers ensued.

Tuesday was an adventure out at the boat yard where we diligently searched the waters for any signs of life. Mostly we just confused the fishermen. But we did not go away empty handed! We found an abundance of Polyorchis penicillatus, commonly named red-eyed medusa, along with a ctenophore, Pleurobrachia bachei, also known as a sea gooseberry. A quick break for ice cream was a well deserved reward.

Wednesday came with a mad rush to finish our Favorite Invertebrate projects. There was dancing and games, lots of food and an odd new drug craze involving some unfortunate anemones and interviewees. It was a wonderful break from our diligent studying, but now it is time to get back to the grind and finish those darn notebooks!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Donuts, Pie, Beer and the Occasional Ecological Trek: A Beginner's Guide to The Oregon Coast

Hey everyone!

Spring is here, and with it a new class of 450'ers has blown into Newport for what some have called "the reason why I chose OSU in the first place!!" Our great adventure started on Monday with an orientation to the Hatfield Marine Science Center by Itchung Cheung, the Academic Program Coordinator of the facility. Tuesday we had our first lecture by BI450's head professor Dr. Sally Hacker, then headed directly to Cascade Head, just north of Lincoln City. This headland serves as a prime example of the many geological processes and events we had just discussed in lecture that morning- beach deposition, rip tides, headland erosion (see photo), estuary formation and several types of coastal dunes (see photo) can all be seen at a single glance!

A half-mile hike up 500ft of muddy, twisting, single track trail opened up onto a large grassy hill with a sweeping view of land and sea, where we could see a most dramatic example of coastal geology:

A giant landslide on the western face of the hill just north of the headland (see photo) sent tons of rocks, sandstone and other debris washing down into the sea, toppling dozens of trees and creating a jagged scar on the hillside! General erosion of the cliffs and hillsides that come in direct contact with the sea over thousands of years was discussed in class, but to see such a dramatic example of this on such a massive and rapid scale was incredible.

As the day wrapped up and multiple group photos were taken, an increasing sense of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead left us all in high spirits. The feast of pie and witty banter at the close of the evening solidified this feeling and helped us relax, if only for a few hours before the next day's adventure swept us off again.

Until next time, peace and firm footing to you all!!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Marine Bio 450 2009 is about to gear up.
One week and counting before we kick off the course with the Marine Invertebrate section.
See you at the Hatfield Marine Science Center!