Various Algae in a large tide pool at Seal Rock
Then on Wednesday morning we embarked on our second field trip to Boiler Bay. It was a dark and stormy morning when we met Annette at the lab at 6am for our trip to Boiler Bay. At this point in the section we had collected many samples already, so our mission this time around was to collect species we did not have or to collect specimens to replace the ones dying in our lab. The drive up was interesting. As we went farther north, we encountered heavy rain mixed with hail and began questioning the sanity of our instructor when, all of a sudden, the weather cleared up. We came to the public view point where Annette and our TA, Orissa, got out to talk strategy. We soon learned two things: 1) one of the benches was no longer available due to increased sea levels, and 2) we had not quite arrived at low tide as expected, so we couldn’t go as far out as planned.
Once down there, we split up into our groups and searched for new specimens. Every once in a while, Annette would summon us with her whistle to look at an interesting specimen or feature we couldn’t see in lab. It was nice to see our knowledge of invertebrates was still with us, as many of our number either sought out or happened across many different species. After a few hours it soon started to rain (harder), so it was time then to leave. When we got back to the lab, it was discovered that a Pacific Rock Crab, Cancer antennarius, had hitch-hiked its way back with us in Caleb’s sweatshirt pocket.
By far, week 5 was the most demanding and stressful week yet...Half the class came down with a cold, sleep was a rarity (and commonly accompanied by nightmares of algal ID sheets), and to top it off, the weather took a slight turn for the worst. However, Annette's energy, enthusiasm, and poetry helped us through the gloomy week. Of course, getting a few hours of extra sleep due to a cancelled field trip always helps too. Caleb found a small pacific rock crab that hitchhiked back to the lab in his coat pocket, we became masters of keying out algae, learned about the various life cycles, and even got an ecology lecture on how summer neap tides and limpet grazing effect algal zonation.
(Note: not a Rock Crab, this is a very red Kelp Crab)
It was a lecture on a field study that Annette herself did and it was very interesting as it showed the natural history of the area by showing us how different climates can have differing affects on the local diversity. Because the summer tides are often so calm, even the high tides don't splash essential water to the higher growing algae, and in short, they die, which sends the limpets to lower zones to find food. Yes, it was an action-packed week of algae to say the least. And congratulations to Orissa Moulton on completing her masters program, and good luck with whatever the future may hold!! We had a great time with you as a T.A., and we know everyone here at HMSC will miss you greatly.