Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hello, Goodbye!

Well after a whirlwind of introductions to new topics, new places, and new people, our time at Hatfield has come to a close and it is time to say goodbye. The sense of impending goodbyes would be ignored for most of the week though, because it was results week! And it was time to wow past and present marine biology instructors with our super awesome research projects!

After spending Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday frantically finishing our papers or doing that one last statistical analysis, or putting in that extra slide, Friday came and it was time to present our groundbreaking scientific research to the world!

Sally started the research symposium with a look back at the 30 years of Marine Biology 450. Melissa's mom graciously made a cake for the birthday celebration, and for that we thank her! It was delicious!

Alex Gulick, Kelsey McCoy, and Sarah Vojnovich (who managed not to fall down during her presentation-- just kidding Sarah! ), took a look at the Social behavior of the saddleback clownfish, Amphiprion polymnus, and found that they have preferred group sizes among other interesting behaviors.

Jessie Johnson, Vathani Logendran, and Cela Sibley tethered crabs and observed their mortality due to predation by marine birds.

Erin Bruce and Casey Pollock found that bay pipefish don't readily change their color, but found there may be habitat preference. 

Cynthia Sells looked at the relationship between benthic biomass and dungeness crab landings. Her research didn't seem to suggest that there was a relationship, though it was very interesting.

Amanda Brunner, Lisa Neyman and Emily Pickering looked at predatory avoidance behaviors by a marine snail, Littorina sitkana, and found that clumping may be a response to predators in the near vicinity. 

Steven Van Auken and Allan Chan found that stronger magnetic fields showed greater effects on degree of rotation and total distance traveled in giant pacific chitons, Cryptochiton stelleri.

Reed Norton worked in a NOAA laboratory under Dr. Tom Hurst, and found that acidifying oceans may have negative consequences for size at hatch of some walleye pollock larvae. However, some fish did not show any effects of the low pH waters.

Paul Dixson and Stephen Nelson found a possible link between the color of Pisaster ocraceus and mussel consumption.

Karl Biederbeck also looked at Pisaster and its diet, but found when starved, they move higher in the intertidal.

Wendel Raymond and Melissa Errend took advantage of some artificial tide pools at Boiler bay to determine the effects of a simulated extinction event on sculpin metapopulation dynamics. What they found was that sculpins will recolonize evacuated pools, significantly after 2 days from the removal.

And with that, the research symposium was drawn to a close, and our term at Hatfield was over. We'll miss the early mornings on the tide, and the late evenings in the library, but we'll always be thankful for the opportunity! Goodbye Hatfield!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Marine Conservation Week
Monday 5/23 
              After a week of research we all buckled down and headed back to lecture.   This week we learned all about conservation science and policy, starting with a lecture on the current state of the oceans, followed by one on the effects of climate change and how it affects the oceans.   After listening to all the doom and gloom we had lunch, and plunged back into our lectures on emerging ocean uses.  We covered ways the ocean can provide energy by harnessing the wind, waves and tides.  Then, we learned about the importance of sustainable aquaculture. We ended the day by choosing parters and topics for our presentations at the end of the week.     

Tuesday 5/24 
               The day began with a lecture on marine reserves and protected areas,  and began discussing  proposed marine reserves in Oregon.  Then, we got to hear from Alix Laferriere and Melissa Murphey about their work on marine reserves for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.   They covered not only the science behind setting up reserves, but the policy work behind setting it up.  It is impressive the progress that has been made towards setting up marine reserves in Oregon.  Especially since it involves the combined efforts of fishermen and scientists (who admittedly do not always get along), as well as numerous non-profit, and government agencies.  After lunch we heard from Karen McLeod about her work with COMPASS, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, and the work they do connecting scientists and policy makers.  After this we had a discussion on the importance of reaching out to the community and sharing scientific findings.  I think this was a great discussion and many of us now understand that although it is important to be knowledgeable understand the scientific process, science really only helps society when scientists are able to explain what their research means and understand how it actually effects peoples lives.  
Wednesday 5/24 
            Field Trip! Today we loaded up the vans and headed south to Cape Perpetua where Paul Englemeyer took us on a tour around Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary.  He covered a range of topics including the proposed marine reserve, water quality and how it affects the environment, and seabird ranges and habitats.  We headed to the top of the cape and made a pit stop to learn about research efforts in the creek, and take some awesome pictures! What a view from up there! Then we headed of to meet a fisheries technician who was sampling one of the fish traps.  We got to play with some fish and some of us were even brave enough to let the lamprey suction its jaw-less mouth to our hands!  At our final stop we learned about the habitat restoration work being done at the sanctuary, where trees had been brought in by helicopter in order to restore the creeks ecosystem.  Paul explained to us that even though large trees live at the most 300 years, dead trees continue to play a role in the ecosystem and create habitat for various birds and mammals and fish as the go from standing, two slowly being knocked over, and rolled into streams and eventually washed out to sea by storms. Each stage of its path towards the ocean it plays a different role whether its rotting holes are nest for certain birds, or providing a resting place to block strong river currents in the winter that would otherwise flush little salmon into the ocean before they are ready.  Truly fascinating!

Thursday 5/25
              The day started out with rain as we listened to a lecture on fisheries, before taking a trip to the docks to hear from Laura Anderson and Charlie Branford from Local Ocean Seafoods about the fishing industry, from the ocean to the shop. Laura runs Local Ocean and takes pride in that it only serves fish from sustainable sources. They took us for a tour of the fishing docks, and we got to meet some hard-working fishermen and hear them talk about their jobs. It sounds like fishing is a rough business but most of them seem to love what they do.  We then had a delicious lunch at Local Ocean before our final lecture on fisheries management tools.  Once we made it back to HMSC most of us spent the rest of the day finishing our presentations for the next day.
                                                                                   Friday 5/26
                Today we gave our presentations! Some of us were nervous, but luckily unlike next week’s presentations which is in front of an audience of family members and real scientists we only had to present to our classmates.  The presentations were very interesting and diverse.  We learned a lot from each other about things such as climate change, the shark fin trade, ocean medicines and noise pollution.  It seems there is lot more to ocean conservancy than what one might have guessed.  With such a complex set of problems it can sometimes be easy to feel pessimistic about the oceans futures.  But in our presentations many of us also presented some wonderful ideas for how to manage these future and current issues.  It is good to know that for many of us we are in field that yields us not only great opportunities to do what we love, but to also contribute to something greater than ourselves.  Good work guys!          

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vacation Week/Projects!!!!

  This week we finally began our research projects. There was a wide assortment of research topics chosen by each group. Several students woke up early to work in the field at low tide, including some mornings that started before 4:00am. It was difficult for a few groups to get started. Some groups had difficulty obtaining the materials required for their project. Other groups had trouble acquiring the specimens they needed. However, a few lucky groups were able to begin right away without any impediments. 

Below is a list of all the groups and a brief overview of each project: 

Sarah Vojnovich, Alex Gulick, and Kelsey McCoy, are studying the social interactions of the saddleback clownfish, Amphiprion polymnus. Their project examines the behavioral changes of a female when placed in a tank with different numbers of males.

Cynthia Sells is working with previously collected data sets estimating biomass of local infauna and benthic organisms. Biomass at each trophic level is important to know when creating food webs that depict the ecological interactions between organisms.

Karl Biederbeck is performing a behavioral study on the sea star, Pisaster ochraceus. Desiccation is an important factor that sets the upper limits of many intertidal species. Sea stars behaviorally avoid desiccation by staying in the low zone. Karl’s project focuses on whether or not sea stars will move higher in the intertidal if the only available food source is located in an area that is above the normal range of a sea star. 

Stephen Nelson and Paul Dixson are also working with Pisaster ochraceus. Their project involves the juxtaposition of a lab experiment and an observational study. The lab experiment is a feeding trial examining prey preference patterns between the different color polymorphs of P. ochraceus. The observational study consists of performing field surveys to determine whether there is a difference in diet between the colors in the field.

Allan Chan and Steven Van Auken are working with their favorite invertebrate Cryptochiton stelleri, the gumboot chiton! Their research project consists of a lab experiment that involves six C. stelleri and a magnetic field produced by a Helmholtz Coil (borrowed from Jim Ketter of the OSU physics department). The lab experiment is to examine the effects of a magnetic field (Earth’s and an externally applied field) on C. stelleri’s movement because like most chitons, they have a radula that contains magnetite. Recording equipment was used in the experiment and was borrowed from Thomas Hurst in the NOAA department.

Casey Pollock and Erin Bruce are examining pipefish habitat preference, specifically if they change color to match the surroundings of their selected habitat. In order to collect the specimens needed they went seining to collect pipefish on multiple occasions. (The sein was borrowed from Wade Smith of the Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Amanda Brunner, Emily Pickering, and Lisa Neyman are working with the snail, Littorina sitkana. It has a trait-mediated response to an alarm signal given off by the mutilated flesh of killed individuals of the same species rather than the actual presence of the predator. They are testing to see if they will respond to the flesh of other dead species: another Littorina species, Lottia persona (a limpet), and Mytilus calfornianus, the California mussel.

Melissa Errend and Wendel Raymond are studying the effects of a simulated sculpin extinction among metapopulations. They removed all sculpin from several artificially created tidepools, made from a previous study, and are observing what fishes colonize those tidepools.

Vathani Logendran, Cela Sibley, and Jessie Johnson are working with juvenile Dungeness crabs, Cancer magister. Their project involves tethering juvenile crabs in both high and low areas of the mud flats and observing the predation rates. 

Reed Norton is working with walleye Pollock and determining the effects of ocean acidification on size at hatching. Climate change is affecting the pH of the oceans' waters. This has numerous ecological ramifications. The impacts of changing pH levels are being studied by several organizations. Reed is working in conjunction with NOAA.

It was a pretty relaxing week or a very busy week, depending on the intensity of each groups’ project. Some groups finished data collection by Sunday but a few projects are still ongoing. Overall it was a fun week working in our areas of interest. We played volleyball almost every day and even had a barbeque on Thursday, which was delicious!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Excel, Minitab, Powerpoint, and... VOLLEYBALL!

Monday 5/9
While some of us decided to sleep in, most of the class rolled out of bed to meet their group at the library by 9:00am to begin working on our data reports. As we opened our folders filled with data, many of us were "a bit" overwhelmed with the formatting, entry, and all around insane amount of data we had to work with. An hour into plugging numbers, we made our way to the lecture room to listen to our Laura give her talk, Structure and Dynamics: Communities to Meta-Ecosystems.

Laura, prepping for lecture

In this lecture we learned about some of the different models that help describe community and ecosystem structure, such as the Menge-Sutherland environmental stress model and the meta-ecosystem model. 

Back to the lecture room!

The rest of the day was filled with data entry and analysis, broken up with a special guest lecture by Jeremy Rose, titled Ecological impacts of ocean acidification. Jeremy's lecture gave us all a detailed insight to ocean acidification, specifically how it affects the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday 5/10
With the deadline quickly approaching, everyone began cracking down on their projects. After a bit of planning and outlining in the morning, we had our final community ecology lecture from Laura, Species Diversity and Stability in Marine Communities.
Reed and Stephen, playing close attention to lecture...

Some of the highlights of this lecture were when we learned about the different spatial scales on which diversity is acted upon, such as local and regional. Examples of factors that influence diversity locally are species interactions and nutrient availability. Regional diversity is considered more of a reflection of the species available, compared to their interactions.

Almost done with lecture!

 Despite the daunting amounts of Excel files full of data to still be analyzed, the majority of us decided to take over the volleyball court before the "outsiders-with-PhDs-who-insisted-on-building-a-fence-to-keep-the-pokies-out-of-their-feet" invaded our turf.

The fence

After about two hours of "music that robots would listen to" and total domination in our "homeslice," we were practically "prosauce." To wrap up the relaxation time for the day, a large group marched over to Rogue Brewery, decked out in their Hawaiian attire, in search of free beer. Feeling good, we all reconvened back in the library conference room to listen to none other than our New Zealander neighbor, Leigh Tait. He discussed his PhD work, Light competition and algal productivity. Leigh's talk focused on the benefits of increased biodiversity, including greater ecosystem production and stability. His research consisted of the synergistic response between canopy and sub-canopy plots of inter tidal algal species in New Zealand. He explained how light delivery is a complex process, and its use in productivity dynamics are different in complex assemblages. We finished off the night with a last-minute meeting for our projects, and hit the sack anticipating our presentations tomorrow.

Wednesday 5/11
After spending hours in the library staring at graph after graph of intertidal data, all our work had finally come together. We kicked off the morning with two presentations describing the community structure and site-level biodiversity at Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill.

Wendel, Lisa, and Jessie presenting their data

Then came our typical break for coffee and donuts in the staff lounge, only this time it was even more eventful. Today was Casey's 21st birthday, and who better to share a birthday with than Dr. George Boehlert, the director of HMSC (marking his 21 + a few years birthday)! A birthday song was sung by all, and before long it was time to return to the lecture room to finish off the last two presentations.

Coedine anyone?

After listening to the final groups discuss tide pool diversity and predator diets, it was time to eat. While Casey took her usual nap for the day, Sarah and Stephen joined forced in the tiny kitchen of Winton to begin the secret birthday preparation. After hours and hours (okay maybe just a little over an hour) of slaving over a beautiful cake and chocolate cookies, the goodies were taken to the lecture hall to set up. Thanks to Erin's sneaky distraction, all went as planned. Casey was both surprised and delighted to walk into the community ecology review session, only to be greeted with sweets and birthday song.

High on sugar, we made it through the review and were let loose for independent study. This consisted of another adventure to Rogue, where the group met yet another surprise, Casey's mom! We shared a few drinks and munchies while Casey opened gifts. The group wrapped up the night with a beautiful walk back to the HMSC campus and a night full of community ecology review.
Note: As co-author of this section, I, Casey Pollock, would like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at Hatfield for making my birthday an absolute blast. I couldn't have asked for a better group to spend it with. You guys are awesome!

Thursday 5/12
Another beautiful day in Newport, right on time for our community ecology final. Just like every other test day, the sun and blue sky came out to tease us. Despite the distractions, we powered through the study day and finished any final touches on our organization. It was a relief for most to find out that the test was open-note. Once we were all done ace-ing the exam, we celebrated with a few hours of volleyball in the sunshine. It was great to see the entire class come together to play, and the additional "beverage of choice" on the rotational break made it worth the wait.

Our wonderful Professor, Laura, and TA, Dafne!

When dinner time rolled around, we all indulged in our homemade pizzas, thanks to Stephen and his crust making magic. Our picnic took place in the covered seating area, where we were joined by Laura and Dafne. To conclude the night, some of the group ventured down the street to Hoovers for an end-of-the-section/Casey's 21er celebration.

Details omitted.

Friday 5/13
Friday morning meetings at 9am... ouch. Dragging our feet, we met in the lecture room for the last time this week, greeted by Sally (she's back!) and Sarah Henkel. We discussed the syllabus for the remaining weeks and eventually broke off for individual consultations. Once the meetings were out, it was a race against the clock to get our proposals written by 5pm. When the deadline rolled around, our emails were sent, full of literature search results and research outlines. The rest of the week was ours to start on our projects (or not) and get some well deserved rest. Congrats to everyone for getting through another section of the program. Whether you like it or not, there's only three weeks left to go. Let's make the best of it, and maybe try to get some work done here and there.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Good Morning Intertidal!

Monday 5/2
After a restful weekend we started the community ecology section. We met our new professor Laura Petes and teaching assistant Dafne Eerkes-Medrano. Bruce Menge and some of his lab techs came by for a visit too. The next two weeks look really exciting! We are going to spend a lot of time in the field collecting data. We are going to have to put what we learned in the invertebrate, fish and algae sections to the test so that we can collect accurate data. The class has been divided into two person field teams that will collect specific data during our upcoming field trips. We will then analyze the data, and next week, present our findings.

Today we had two lectures. The first was a general overview of marine ecology with a review of data that we may encounter over the next two weeks. Second, Dafne gave a lecture on her PhD thesis work. She has been studying the effects hypoxia on the larval stage of many invertebrates. Tomorrow we head out to Boiler Bay at 6am for our first day of data collection!

Tuesday 5/3
Steven sleepily counts snails 
Today began with an early trip to Boiler Bay. With coffee and tea in hand, students set out at 6am in groups of two to three to either measure species abundance using Transect-Quadrats, or measure feeding and predation by two common Rocky Intertidal whelk species, Nucella ostrina and Nucella canaliculata. After four hours of thorough surveying, measurements, and observations students headed back to Hatfield to clean up and have lunch before the first lecture of the day. This lecture covered the spatial, species, size, and trophic structure and biodiversity of marine life communities in different parts of the world. After the lecture, field groups met in the library for raw data entry and analysis into excel spread sheets. The day finished off with a very interesting lecture by Sarah Close about her graduate work studying nutrient uptake, availability, and limitation in marine environments.

Wednesday 5/4
Lisa and Vathani discuss their data while Jesse looks on
We had another early start today. Instead of Boiler Bay we headed south to Strawberry Hill. We continued to collect transect-quadrat, belt transect, tidepool diversity data and feeding surveys of whelks and Pisaster ochraceaus. The weather cooperated which made the data collection much more enjoyable. When we returned to HMSC we had a lecture on how the environment effects species interactions. The lectures and field trips of this section have gotten a lot of students thinking about their research projects for later in the term. Some students began collecting species such as Cryptochiton stelleri, Pisaster ochraceaus, and others to use in their research. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing data entry, but some of us found time for volleyball.

Thursday 5/5
Happy cinco de mayo! We got to sleep in a little later today but we headed back out to the field to collect biodiversity and mobile predator data at Boiler Bay. The field teams broke into two groups. One went to Boiler Bay proper (where we have been going all term) and the other went to different part of Boiler Bay called Manipulation Bay.  Manipulation Bay got its name from being a research site for many OSU students over the years. Some students even witnessed seagulls feeding on the arms of a giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dolfeni) on the rocks! The weather turned a little nasty but it was not nearly as bad as earlier in the term.

Our afternoon lecture was on complex community interactions and community structure. One of the major topics was trophic cascades. Trophic cascades are a central part of ecology. First, a trophic level is defined as the place in the food chain that an organism occupies. A trophic cascade is the phenomenon by which top predators control the abundance of their prey and therefore indirectly affect the population sizes of lower trophic levels. Picture this example food chain. Killer whales eat sea otters which eat sea urchins which eat kelp. When killer whale populations are high they directly control the population of sea otters. The low population size of otters trickles down the food chain allowing for high urchin populations and low kelp abundance.

A group of students surveying biodiversity at Strawberry Hill
Friday 5/6
Last early morning! We set out to Strawberry Hill again but this time to collect biodiversity and mobile predator data. While it has been a very long week it was sad that it would be our last class field trip to the rocky intertidal. The biodiversity surveys were completed in 10 minute increments for a total of 120 minutes of surveying. We did surveys at low, mid, and high tidal zones in both wave exposed and wave protected areas of the site.

Our afternoon lecture was short, which allowed for students to catch up on sleep, readings and data entry. Next week we will be analyzing the data we collected this week. We will present our findings to our classmates on Wednesday night.

It has been a long week for Reed

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bring it on Algae!

MONDAY - 4/25
After an enjoyable Easter weekend filled with delicious food, friends and family, we prepared ourselves for a week of labs and lectures about algae. Monday began with the second lecture on brown algae where we learned about the morphologies of a variety of species including sacs, tubes, cylinders, crusts, and blades. Included in the lecture was a special life cycle where the species had two adult forms that were identical genetically but differed in morphologies. Following lecture, we found ourselves in lab practicing our microscope skills and discerning the difference between species based on macroscopic and microscopic differences. We used this information for our species profiles. After our process, we repeated the process with some red algaes. Did you know that red algaes are eaten by many cultures on every continent on our world? They are even used in a variety of cosmetics! After breaking for supper, some of us gathered in the lab for a review on green, brown, and simple red algae. Annette walked around to different tanks reciting the scientific names of the various taxa.

TUESDAY - 4/26
Our day started with part two of the red algae lectures. For this day, Annette taught us about the morphology and life history of red algaes. She helped us review some of the aspects of algae anatomy that tripped us up during our lab sessions including how to determine if the algae are multiaxial or uniaxial. That night found us beginning to work on our group projects. This project had the class divided into nine groups with each group assigned a particular algae morphology. For example, there were the coralline algaes, small brown algaes, and finely branched red axes. Each group was responsible for identify all their specimens and creating informational cards for four to six of their species to teach the rest of the class. This also involved creating Powerpoint slide cards that showed how to differentiate between two similar looking taxa.

 WEDNESDAY - 4/27 
Wednesday began with coffee and donuts at 10 AM, just like every morning should start! The majority of the day was committed to completing our group projects and preparing for our presentations that evening. Walking into the lab at 7 pm, we were greeted by treats provided by Annette and nine stations of slides and specimens. Annette explained to us that one of each group would remain at each station while the rest were allowed to roam, and then we switched after one hour. She and Margot each graded half of the room. Each person at the individual stations explained their own taxa to other students roaming around and asking questions. We all came to realize that the project led us to memorize the various species we had learned about in lecture and lab.

Thursday brought our final lecture. This lecture, however, brought a more personal point of view to the topic of algae because it covered Annette’s graduate work. The focus of this lecture was mainly on the effects of desiccation and herbivory of limpets on Mazzaella parksii, a common intertidal algae. It was explained to us that desiccation increases with elevation and herbivory decreases with elevation. The results showed that tetrasporophytes were more susceptible to desiccation, whereas gametophyte blades could grow in desiccation as they could hold more water, therefore outlasting the desiccation. Limpets were the focus of Annette’s herbivory studies. After many experiments, she found that the limpets preferred gametophytes over tetrasporophytes, thus increasing the relative abundance of the tetrasporophytes. In conclusion, tetrasporophytes were found more at lower elevations and near wave-exposed regions, thus being more susceptible to desiccation. Gametophytes, however, were found at higher elevations in protected areas, and therefore were preferred by limpets for grazing. The rest of day consisted of reviewing and studying for the exams that were to come the following day.

FRIDAY - 4/29
The end of the algae section was now upon us. The section had been long but our knowledge about algae was so great that it had seeped into our dreams! At 10 AM, we had our lab practical which consisted of twenty stations of various algae specimens. At each station, we answered questions about the scientific names, morphologies, and life histories of the specimens provided. Following the completion of our lab practical, we had a two hour break to eat lunch and cram as much last-minute information before the lecture final. After the completion of the lecture final, the sun greeted us for some games of volleyball and basketball, and Margot and Annette joined us!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 4: End of Fish and Beginning of Algae

Monday, April 18th, 2011

After working on the Marine Fishes section material Sunday, we continued to work hard all day to make sure we finished our assignments. With bloodshot eyes we stared at our lectures, notes, species profiles and research papers in hopes of doing well on the upcoming exam, but the stress did not wear us down. With the passion only a marine biologist could possess, we pressed on in pursuit of what we love. One thing that made it harder than usual to study is the unusually gorgeous weather we had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The weather doesn’t always seem to cooperate when we are out in the field, but it was at its best right before our tests for both the invertebrate and fish section. Even with the sun calling us out to play, we studied all night long in preparation for our test.

Tuesday April 19th, 2011

The test has arrived! We started our day with our lab practicum. We were tested on the basic anatomy of Marine Fishes, identification of specific local species, and our abilities to correctly use a dichotomous key. After our lunch break we took our lecture based exam. We were tested on the Marine Fishes lecture material, the purpose of fish in our oceans, and their life histories through evolution. After cleaning up the lab, we enjoyed the sun the rest of the day. Of course this meant we played volleyball with Wade Smith and Margot Hessing-Lewis in the beautiful sun!

A group of the students and Wade playing volleyball after our test

Wednesday April 20th, 2011

Algae week; it’s here!!!!! After sleeping in and catching up on the much needed rest we headed to afternoon lecture to learn about algae evolution and life histories. Annette Olson and Margot Hessing-Lewis are our instructors for the Marine Algae section of the class. We also spent time in the lab looking at the specimens Annette had collected during the week. Looking the array of algae in the tanks, we came to realize that classifying algae was going to be harder than we thought. Algae are very diverse and they are hard to identify to the species level without looking at them on a cellular level. We then knew this section would require intensive work that required microscopes, time, and lots of dedication. After getting into groups for our algae project, some of the groups met with Annette to get a better picture of what we could look for on our field trip out to Boiler Bay tomorrow. We sorted specific algae into our designated tank areas and went home to prepare for our early field trip.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

 Melissa, Annette, Karol, Alex, and Jessie (Left to right)
At 7:30am with coffee in hand, we left for Boiler Bay. Five minutes later everyone’s passed out for the drive to the site, but as soon as we arrived at Boiler Bay the sun greeted us with a nice view where we could see algae covered benches that seemed to go forever. Coming here many times before with other purposes in mind we all never gave a second thought about algae but with Annette’s knowledge fresh in our minds we were ready to see what we had learned the day before. We examined the algae with our “heads down and bottoms up” as Annette would say for our specific group algae. We were guided through the slippery algae beds as Annette pointed out various species. She told us about their morphologies and various environments and conditions each type of algae lived under. After collecting all the species we needed and hearing Annette blow her sea kelp horn, we headed back to put our samples in the lab. We continued our day with a lecture and spent time in the lab identifying specific green algaes (Chlorophyta) using microscopes and dichotomous keys. After lab we went home to sleep and prepare for our next day.

Friday April 22, 2011

Our morning started with our first trip to Seal Rock. We have been to the other sites more than once, so we were all excited to visit a new site. After our leisurely hike down to the water, we began our search for more algae to add diversity to our collection. We spent most of our time practicing saying the names of the algae as Annette pointed them out. Who knew learning a new language (Latin) was going to be a dominant part of our curriculum. We did take a couple breaks to have fun-- Hatfield style. Alan and Steven jumped in a big tide pool. People with cameras took pictures with the small tidepool waterfalls and we walked along the shoreline with the small waves crashing at our feet. Once we got back to Hatfield, we put our collected algae species in our tanks and a short lunch break to fuel up. We finished our day with a lecture on the brown algae (Phylum: Phaeophyceae). We had an early afternoon dismissal to enjoy our Easter weekend.
Seal Rock

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week Three: Fish Week

Steven and Wendel ready to dissect a rockfish

Monday April 11th: Today started our 2nd course of the term: fish. We met our teacher Wade Smith and his TA Margot Hessing-Lewis. The highlight of the day was going to the lab to partner up and dissect different species of thawed-out fish. Each team was responsible for identifying their fish using a dichotomous key, describing distinct external characteristics, and some major internal organs. Some of the more exciting species dissected were the ocean sunfish, Mola mola and the horn shark, Heterodontus francisci. The second part of the lab exercise consisted of breaking into groups and each creating a unique dichotomous key for a set of preserved species that were all fairly similar. Each group was responsible for thoroughly examining each specimen in their set, and being able to distinguish why one was a separate species than the next.

Tuesday April 12th: We went out to two locations today to start collecting fish! Our first location was the by the pumphouse in Yaquina Bay, and the second was the estuary flats of Yaquina Bay. Two large seine nets (a long and shorter trawling net with wooden poles attached on either end) were used to trawl small portions of the Bay in order to collect fish. A total of 10 trawls were completed between the two sites, with the students wading chest deep in the water and dragging the net landward once both sides were parallel to shore. All of the fish caught were counted in the field, and while most were released back to the bay, a few representatives were taken back to the lab for further identification.
Paul and Wade pulling the seine net to shore

Wednesday April 13th: The morning portion of the day consisted of going to the lab to each individually dissect a preserved fish to locate and extract a pair of otoliths. These are tiny, calcareous plates located near the brain that are used by scientists to estimate the fish's daily and annual age and growth patterns. We also were given microscope slides containing sample otoliths that we examined to practice counting the band patterns and estimate age. In the afternoon, the group headed back to Boiler Bay, this time to collect fish from the tide pools and channels. Low tide occured around 3:00 pm with sunny skies. 25 fish were collected, most of which were various sculpin species. Some of the other fish collected were Apodichthys flavidus (the penpoint gunnel), Gobiesox maeandricus (the northern clingfish), and Hexagrammos lagocephalus (the rock greenling).

Thursday April 14th: Earlier in the week, students were assigned some scientific research papers to read that covered an array of topics, such as adaptations to living in an estuary and some personal adaptations of Porichthys notatus (plainfin midshipman). Today, the students were divided into two discussion groups, where we critiqued and reflected on these papers.
Although the weather was unfavorable, a trip to Strawberry Hill took place in the afternoon with strong winds and heavy rainfall. We were collecting fish using a variety of sizes of nets in the tide pools. 34 sculpins were captured, as well as 2 more penpoint gunnels.

Friday April 15th: Jose R. Marin Jarrin came to class to give a guest presentation about salmon on the Pacific Coast, and his research related to them. He has been monitoring salmon abundance in the surf zones along the Oregon coast to see if these habitats play a significant role in their life history. Salmon are born in freshwater streams and rivers, and will migrate to estuaries in their juvenile stage, which is a mixture of fresh and salt water. This classifies them as anadromous, which refers to fish that are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, and then return to freshwater to spawn, die, and pass on ocean-derived nutrients for their offspring. After, we had our final fish lectures for the course, and had the afternoon off to catch up on lab work and various assignments.

Saturday April 16th: Yes, Saturday class! This was the only day available to use the Elakha aluminum research boat for some fish trawling within Yaquina Bay. The boat's name Elakha is the Native American word for "sea otter", and has been in Newport since August 2000. The students were divided into two groups, half of which went on the boat in the morning, while the other half went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium to complete a lab exercise. Students on the boat assisted in deploying the fishing net and also pulling it back on board to examine the catch. The boat had a large metal A-frame powered by hydraulics that was lowered in order for the trawl net to deploy completely. Three trawls were completed by each of the groups, catching a large assortment of fish as well as some invertebrates. Some interesting species caught were Platichthys stellatus (the starry flounder), Ophiodon elongatus (juvenile lingcod), Liparis cyclopus (ribbon snailfish), and Pholis ornata (saddleback gunnel).
Allan, Wade and Jessie lowering the net

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week Two: Invertebrates Continued

Sylvia Yamada
Monday April 4th-  
The week began with two guest speakers Sylvia Yamada and John Chapman. Sylvia took us out to check crab traps that had been set out the day before. We identified the species of crab we caught and tallied how many of each we found.  In the deeper traps we found Cancer productus (Red Rock Crab) and Cancer magister (Dungeness Crab) and in the shallower traps we found two species of shore crab; Hemigrapsus oregonensis (Green Shore Crab) and Hemigrapsus nudus (Purple Shore Crab). One way to differentiate between these two species of shore crab is to remember that Hemigrapsus oregonensis is hairy and like Sylvia reminded us, “Oregon girls don’t shave their legs!” 

Sylvia’s lecture focused on the introduction of the invasive European Green Crab, Carcinus maenus, which we learned was introduced to the San Francisco Bay in 1989, or at least that's when it was discovered.  It was later brought Northward by the El Nino event in 1997-1998, which resulted in unsually warm water temperatures, unusally strong poleward currents, and downwelling, all of which contributed to creating the extremely large year class of 1998.  We learned that the strength of the each year’s recruits dependes heavily on ocean conditions, because as larvae, Carcinus maenus is pelagic and at the mercy of the ocean’s currents and temperature.  

John Chapman
 Our second guest speaker was John Chapman, an expert and researcher on a parasite of the of Upogebia pugettensis (Blue Mud Shrimp).  Orthione griffenis is a parasitic isopod newly introduced to the Pacific North West that attaches to the gills of Upogebia pugettensis and feeds on its blood.   Upogebia pugettensis is capable of living with this parasite, but it has been found that mud shrimp with the parasite were an average of 7.8% lower weight than similar sized individuals without the parasite.  After prolonged parasitism, Upogebia pugettensis is unable to reproduce as most of its energy and nutrients are being diverted
 to the lump on the side of its carapace.

                                                                                     Tuesday, April 5th-
The following day we had the opportunity to go find our own mud shrimp at Sally’s Bench in the mudflats at Yaquina Bay. Nothing like a morning spent sinking, swimming, sloshing, and trudging through the mud! It was quite the sight to see everyone crawling on thier hands and knees through the stuff and we had a lot of fun. We found two species of mud shrimp, including the Upogebia pugettensis (Blue Mud Shrimp) and Neotrypaea californiensis (Bay Ghost Shrimp). We found the parasitic isopod, in addition to a small clam attached to Upogebia pugettensis.  We also collected an interesting scale worm and other creepy crawly critters.

Wednesday, April 6th-

In addition to our last three lectures on Wednesday, Tom, the sea water system maintenance guy, was nice enough to give us a tour of the sea water system that keeps Hatfield up and running.  Maintaining the sea water system is a constant job and is more difficult than one might think. For example, marine fouling is a huge problem in the pipes, so every so often they send a “pig” through, which is a large object that shoots through the pipes, taking any marine organisms with it, and out the other side. It can shoot out of the pipes with a lot of force, and has been known to achieve long hang-times before finally landing on the beach. Remember, if you’re walking on the estuary trail, always be alert.

That evening was the 6th Annual Marine Invertebrate Presentation and Dessert Extravaganza! We all gave presentations on our favorite invertebrates in creative ways. There were a lot of laughs, and some of the highlights included: Pin-the-Parts-on-the-Nudibranch, a talk show featuring a crab with a (strangely) southern accent, a horseshoe crab piƱata, an octopus rap, a sea nettle sales pitch, and an edible, chocolatey sea cucumber. There was even a guest appearance from David Attenborough! All around, it was a night of great educational entertainment.

Thursday, April 7th-
Thursday was devoted to preparing for our final exam.  We started it off with extremely helpful review sessions for our invertebrate final and lab practical (thank you Sally and Allie!). The rest of the day was ours to study, and study we did!

Friday, April 8th-
It was time to put our knowledge to the test and determine how much information we had absorbed over the last two weeks.  After finishing our final and lab practical, we cleaned out the lab and decided which invertebrate pets to keep.  Most people took off to Corvallis and beyond for a rare weekend free of homework!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week One: Intro to Invertebrates

The group at Cascade Head

Sunday, Mar 27th - Students arrived to a rainy, wind driven Newport to unpack and get settled in before class the next day. One thought on all our minds….is the weather going to be like this ALL term? Rain or shine we’re here all for the same reason: our love for the ocean.

Students in the lab
Monday, Mar 28th - Bright and early, we make our way to our first class at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. For once, we get to study what we came to college for…marine biology! For the first two weeks we are going to be immersed in invertebrates with Dr. Sally Hacker who has taught this class for six years and this year she brings Allison Barner to be our TA for this section. On this first day Itchung Cheung the HMSC administrator launched a comprehensive introduction to HMSC introducing key staff on site that we need to know. We trekked out to the docks at Hatfield and toured the research vessels Elakha (50’) and the Wecoma (185’). The Elakha is used in local ocean research by staff from OSU and other agencies like the EPA and Sea Grant, which are also part of Hatfield. The Wecoma travels the Pacific and can hold up to 18 scientists.
Boiler Bay

Tuesday, Mar 29th – Today we covered the geophysical history of the Oregon coast and its unique features. Due to the heavy rainfall and 35 mph winds, we switch our schedule hike to Cascade Head to Friday and instead set up the lab for our soon to be thriving collection of invertebrates. After lunch we traveled to Port Dock 5 – one of the two major commercial docks on the north side of the bay – to collect our first invertebrate specimens. Our findings included barnacles, isopods, but most exciting of all, a giant sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides – see invertebrate species list).
We concluded the busy day with a review of Komar’s book, The Pacific Northwest Coast, introductions, and lots and lots of pie.

Alan with the giant Pacific chiton
Wednesday, Mar 30th – Sponges (Porifera) was the phylum of focus for today’s lecture. Afterwards, we were off to Boiler Bay, north of Newport about 20 miles for a rainy afternoon of collecting tidal and intertidal invertebrates to add to our lab collection. One of the many cool findings included a giant Pacific chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri) found by Alan, several purple urchins (Stronglylocentrotus purpuratus), various anemones and other invertebrates.

Thursday, Mar 31 – We begin in the classroom again with a lecture covering phylum Cnidaria and Ctenophora (includes anemones, corals, and jellies) and then go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium to see all of them in action. Students focused on the invertebrate exhibits, exploring various species that would not be gathered on field trips.
Sea nettle - Chrysaora fuscescens
We continue our day with a field trip to Strawberry Hill (large tide pool area amonst three major basalt benches) for more invertebrate collection. The weather has improved, and we bring back even more specimens to add to the tanks – including the opalescent nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis).

Friday, Apr 1 – We concluded our hard work with a hike up to Cascade Head. The rain had finally stopped leaving us walking through fog. The first summit was reached, but the fog prevented us seeing the incredible view of the Pacific coastline. In efforts to keep warm, the second summit was conquered with still no yielding from the fog. By the time we turned back and reached the first summit, the fog began to clear giving us a spectacular view of the coast. From Monday’s reading of our coast’s natural history, we were able to see two of the dominant geological formations of the northwest coast: estuaries and rocky intertidal coasts. Like many Oregon headlands, Cascade head is at the tip of a 300 mile long Columbia River basalt lava flow that erupted in Idaho over 15 million years ago. A hard, rocky headland and the Salmon River Estuary is what we see today after subsequent uplifting of the coast range. Cascade Head is now a preserve implemented by the Nature Conservancy in aim to protect and provide essential habitat for native prairie grasses, wildflowers and the Oregon silverspot butterfly. We returned to HMSC tired, sore, and ready for the weekend. Cheers to a great first week!