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.

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