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!