Friday, April 27, 2012

Algae Bananza!

       Once again we have jumped right into another few days of learning about red, green, and brown algae! Yesterday we field-tripped to Boiler Bay and this morning we visited Seal Rock to collect more specimens for the lab. (Shown below is the beautiful Boiler Bay - which I just found out was named after the giant boiler that remains from a ship wreck that happened around 100 years ago!)

Boiler Bay

         We were lucky to have the sun shining all of yesterday morning, because as soon as we got back, it began to pour! Throughout yesterday, we listened to Annette lecture about Chlorophytes, the green division of algae. We learned about their thallus (body) types, and their reproductive cycles, and what some of the most common species are along the Oregon Coast. The first day of the algae section, we learned to press the algae to preserve it and so yesterday, we were able to continue pressing the species that we had collected when down at Boiler Bay. Many of the pieces turned out really nice! We have also been broken down into teams for the big algae project/presentation that we are doing this coming Wednesday. Collectively, we each met with Jeremy and Annette to talk about our assigned algae type last night.

         This morning we had a later start at 9:30, where we drove out to Seal Rock, which is a location that we have not visited yet. It was really beautiful with many intricate rock formations right on the edge of the surf. In between the different collection sites along the shore, Annette pointed out many algae that grew along the various substrates and gave us clues for identification.

Tara on a rock!
When we returned, we took a short lunch break and then reconvened for a lecture on Phaeophyceae (brown algae). We had short lab session where Jeremy explained the differences between the local kelp species, like Bull Kelp and the Sea Palm. These were much easier to identify than the green algae the previous day. We were let out early because we didn't really have much of a break between the Algae and Fish sections of the course. An early weekend is gladly welcomed!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Algae Section

Out with the old and in with the algae! Just yesterday we finished our section on fish with Dr. Scott Heppell. Though tough, this section has given me a new appreciation for fish. Before, if I were asked by Dr. Heppell if I would like to be in the middle of a Nassau Grouper spawning event, with sperm reducing visibility by 50%, I would have said "Eh, maybe". Now, if someone were to ask me the same question, I'd scream with excitement and then book my tickets to the Cayman Islands (prime spawning habitat for Nassau Groupers). However, the fish section is now over, and we look forward to an exciting new section on algae. When I asked our professor, Dr. Olson, how to tell the difference between a red, green, and brown algae, she basically said "you can't... unless you look at them on the cellular level". Well, here are some of the differences. Green algae contain chlorophyll a, b, carotenoids and canthophylls and store food in the form of starch. Red algae contain chlorophyll a,d, carotenoids, canthophylls and store food as sloridean starch. Brown algae contains chlorophyll a, c and fucoxanthin pigment. Their main food source is laminarin (

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yaquina Bay Trawling

Monday at 11am the first half of our group boarded Oregon State's research vessel, the Elakha to sample estuary fish in Yaquina Bay. The weather could not have been better. We headed into the bay in search of new species. 

Boarding the Elakha.

Enjoying the sunny ride out.
Both groups performed three, ten minute otter trawls through the bay to collect estuary species. The net was dropped into the water and allowed to widen and run along the bottom, scaring bottom species into the net.

Pulling the net back into the boat.
After the net was pulled into the boat, we counted and recorded the species and individuals caught.

Scott describing the new perch species.

The red cap looking on as the trawl is pulled up.

A large buffalo sculpin pulled from the net.  

The new Aulorhynchidae species collected: 
The second group pulling up the net. 

After a great day on the Elakha we collected five new families and learned new trawling sampling techniques. Thank you, from all the marine biology students here to to Scott, Jeremy, and the Elakha boat crew, it was a fantastic day. 

Pretty excited about fish sampling.
A great finale to fish week, and looking forward to aquatic plants!

Sunday Funday

Now that the volleyball court is in full function, we have decided to put together a team to challenge the locals. So far, Alicia and Brian are dominating the bump, set, spike. Anyone interested should show up Sunday afternoon for try outs. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another LONG day

So today was the second day in a row where we had to get up and out in the field early (5am) after a long day yesterday and a lot of studying. We were heading down to Strawberry Hill to do a little bit of fish collecting, while we were there we were unable to find fish belonging to new families that we had not collected yet, but it found some better samples to bring back with us. After we returned from our field work most went to take a nap and get a few more hours of sleep or went to do some homework before we started our lectures for the day. Today our lectures were on fish reproduction, then when those were over we were put into groups and had to come up with a proposal for new marine protected areas which will be revealed to the rest of the class tomorrow before our final, for now its off for a LONG night of studying, which leaves me asking when do we get to sleep!!!
LOAD UP! loading up the van heading to Strawberry Hill (5:00AM)

Getting out of the vans at Strawberry Hill and ready to catch some fish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ichthyological Madness!
When asked if I am crazy my reply is simple, "Occasionally;" I am not quite sure why, but I tend to go a little "crazy" when I have the opportunity to chill with my actiniopterygiian counterparts. There is just something about a fusiforme body that gets to me. Well it was to much of my comfort observing the same effect that fishes have on me being reproduced within someone else.
Karina before fish week
Karina during fish week

Anyways, we have arrived at the conclusion of the third day of fish week and I must admit that I AM TIRED!! Beginning the day at 5am, we traveled to the bountiful Boiler Bay to collect intertidal fishes. After separating into groups of two, we had a contest to see which group could collect the most fish.. . . . My group WON! More interesting than Doug and my victory however, were some of the species that were collected. A juvenile Northen Clingfish (Family Gobiesocidae) and several juvenile gunnels (Family Pholidae) were collected among a multitude of sculpins (Family Cottidae); this is significant because it added two very interesting, beautiful, and amazing families to the list of teleost fishes collected this week. After the collection trip we dispersed for a three hour break, then returned for afternoon lectures and a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Age of the Fish

Tuesday was like any other day here at Hatfield started out with lecture like usual, we talked about different fish and which family they are in that are located here off the Oregon coast, after the lecture we had a little break before diving into the next lecture which was on age and growth of fish. With two lectures done for the day we moved to a well needed lunch break then right back into the third lecture thermal biology and talking about fish regulation of body temperature. All the lectures were very interesting but not as interesting as what was to come in the lab, today was the day we got to find out how old our fish were just by doing a technique called "break and burn" on the otoliths. Once they were put through the fire and prepared we then were able to use the microscope and count the rings on the otolith which gave us the age of the fish that we removed them from the day before.

Beginning of  the dissection and otolith removal

The prize from the fish, the otoliths
Trying to determine the age of the fish with the otoliths

HMSC Marine Science Day!

One of our very own marine biology students, Ryan, was featured on the News of Lincoln County for Hatfield's Marine Science Day last weekend: Awesome!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The infamous "Tots" pulling a seine 

You do not need to be a fish fanatic to be humbled by the diversity of extant fishes observed worldwide. With incursion into nearly all available habitats, including terrestrial, fishes have dominated the vertebrate world in terms of both abundance and diversity. As we ventured through the currently accepted phylogenetic tree of fishes, it was noted that the breadth of extant species occur in the infraclass Teleostei. To delve into the mechanisms of niche expansion and the genetic arsenal required to make these life history transitions goes beyond the scope of the class, however Dr. Heppell summarized this information by outlining the general change in both form and function in species throughout evolutionary time.  Once the lectures were over, the class conducted dissections of multiple fish species- Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops), Blue Rockfish (Sebastes mystinis), Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus)- within the order Scorpaeniformes. Looked at during the dissections were the general internal anatomy of fishes: gonads, kidneys, spleen, liver, otiliths, etc.  Lastly, we had the opportunity to engage in a survey of near shore fishes of Yaquina Bay, OR. This was a phenomenal way to end the day because the class gained experience in beach seining techniques, as well as general species identification methods.      

Alicia Haynes holding a juvenile
Staghorn Sculpin (Leptocottus armatus)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Week 2 down ...

I can has break naoh?
Thursday found many people making the library our home whilst we prepared for D day. Burning the midnight oil we crammed phyla, genus, and species. Oh my!


And so with heavy hearts we bid adieu to the spineless creatures we have all come to love. We look forward to SPRING BREAK 2012! Oh and next on the list, fishies!


We will miss you invertebrates!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Much Ado About Invertebrates

Wednesday was a day filled with much learning and a night of much fun. We began the day learning about our spiny little friends, the Echinoderms. Fun Fact: If you are facing an infestation of starfish in your clam bed, do not chop them up into tiny little pieces. In a few hours you will be facing an army of those critters so dense you might as well relocate your operation. After a short break we dove into our closest invertebrate relatives, the Chordates.

The rest of the day was spent prepping for the night to follow. Everyone was extremely creative in presenting their favorite invertebrate. There was signing, dancing, poetry, and even some crying. Alas poor Molly, I knew her well.
Nummy Nudibranchs

There was much to nom that night. Cake, coffee, and cookies, Oh my! There were many creative demonstrations of edible nudibranchs and barnacles. We even had a tasty jellyfish to sample.

Save Me!
After our presentations were over, the night took a serious turn. Itchung Cheung waxed eloquent about the plight of the very endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. We learned of the trials and tribulations this rare species face. From habitat destruction by loggers, and competition by invasive species, this critter is hanging on by a mere sucker. Please we urge you, contact your local senator, form rallies, file an internet petition. Do what you can to help protect this noble creature. For more info on how you can help protect the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus visit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Goin' Muddin'

The Before shot, when we're still warm and dry.
Brian and Molly, hard at work.
We started the day off by hitting the mud flats of Yaquina Bay on a quest for the mud shrimp (Upogebia pugettensis) and ghost shrimp (Neotrypaea californiensis) that we learned about yesterday from Dr. John Chapman. Struggling through the knee deep sludge, everyone worked diligently to find our query. A few mud-slinging episodes later, we headed back to the vans with our booty: a few specimens of each species of shrimp, butter clams (Saxidomas gigantea) , and cockels (Clinocardium spp). Back in the lab, we set our collections up in the tanks and lined up to hose off.

Post-brawl: The Creature(s) of the Black Lagoon Return
After some time to get clean and warm again, it was back to the classroom. The first of the day's lecture covered Phylum Mollusca, and the incredible diversity it includes. From the 8-plated chitons to the flashy nudibranchs to the quick-witted cephalopods, we learned it all. Then it was on to the Lophophorates: Phyla Bryazoa, Phoronida, and Brachiopoda.

Grimy, yet satisfied.
We ended the day with some relaxed time in the lab, with some students finishing up their invertebrate notebooks and others working to identify the species we've collected since beginning our term at Hatfield.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Catchin' Crabs

Dr. Yamada teaching the troops
After a relaxing weekend in the sun and a happy non-denominational holiday, we returned for our second week learning all there is to learn about invertebrates. We started the day with a relaxing jaunt down to the pier on the estuary to check on our crab pots. Our mission this morning was to help Dr. Sylvia Yamada with her survey, looking for all types of crabs, but specifically the Europeans Green Crab, Carcinus maenas. We didn't end up finding any of them, but we did catch a number of pretty looking Metacarcinus magisterHemigrapsus oregonensis, and Hemigrapsus nudus specimens.
Dana says "Hello!"

Our counts completed, we returned to our lecture home-base to learn more about the European Green Crab and the factors related to its distribution from our resident expert, Dr. Yamada. One short thirty minute break later, we were back to our prison (winky-face) to learn everything about the Arthropods. For example, barnacles have a penis that is up to 50 times longer than their body length. It's amazing what you learn on any given day in BI 450/451...

A small Dungeness crab
After a lunch break and a short info session about volunteer opportunities with Itchung, we reconvened for another guest lecture, this time from the distinguished Dr. John Chapman. He presented an interesting lecture about threat from invasive species, specifically from Orthione griffenis, a small isopod that infects the gills of the local Mud Shrimp, and effectively castrates the females by drinking their blood, devastating the local population. This lecture was one of the more interesting lectures we have ever had the privilege to attend, mainly because of the applied science aspect of the information. A big thanks to Dr. Chapman for taking the time to visit our class.

Karina laughs at Ryan's crabs

One day down, four more to go. Filled with studying and memorizing. Drawing and describing. Practicing and tweaking. Eating and sleeping. Not eating and not sleeping.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Week Down!

What a beautiful day!

This morning we hiked up Cascade Head. The muddy trail led us past numerous waterfalls as we climbed above the Salmon River Estuary. Nothing prepared us for the view from the top with the ocean stretching out from beach to horizon and as far north and south as the eye could see. All the fishing boats seemed as if they were specks from our height. Our position also allowed us to see how grass only dominated the southern slope. The winter winds from the south in winter and the summer sun inhibit the growth of trees that can be found on the northern slope. 

While eating lunch with the sunlight streaming down upon us, we enjoyed the scenery that our classroom had to offer. Some individuals continued to hike up the headland to the peak while others made their way to the point. We congregated together for a class picture and enjoyed the sunshine and the view for a little bit longer before making our way back down to our waiting vans. 

The rest of our afternoon was spent preparing notebooks for an initial evaluation as we finished up our first week at Hatfield. 

We've had such a great time this week with all our gloriously sunny and bright field trips. We're looking forward to an awesome week 2 of invertebrates!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Another Sunny Day in the Intertidal

Today we woke up to another gorgeous day. With the sun streaming in the windows of our lecture room this morning, we began addressing the world of worms. After lunch, we made our way to the laboratory to sketch and describe the invertebrates we had collected at the docks and Boiler Bay. The colored pencils were out as everyone did their best to illustrate the characteristics of each organism.

At four we loaded the vans and headed to Strawberry Hill for some more invertebrate collection. Again the tide was not extremely low at 0.13m, but we made the most of the sunshine by finding many nudibranchs, crabs and sponges. Our earlier lectures were also put to good use in the collection of many species we had just learned about including nemerteans, polychaetes, and peanut worms. Our new friends are situated in their tanks and we are looking forward to the hike at Cascade Head tomorrow.

Example Invert Notebooks

Finally! Some examples:

Our First Trip North

After delicious pie Tuesday night and some good old fashioned bonding, we started discussing the inverts Wednesday morning. After learning about the phyla Porifera, Cnidaria, and Ctenophora, we entered the laboratory for the first time. Here we cleaned and set up the tanks for organisms collected from our first two excursions. 

Our first stop yesterday afternoon was the Newport docks. The sun was out as we lay down on the docks to discover and capture some of the invertebrates that live beneath the wood. After the docks, we loaded our new friends into our vans and made our way to Boiler Bay. Even though the tide was not extremely low (only 0.11m) we were able to collect sea stars, chitons, urchins, crabs, limpets (like the keyhole limpet on the left), and many other invertebrates. Luckily, the clouds didn’t open until we were back in the vans heading to Newport to place the organisms in the laboratory tanks for observation and sketching.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Surprisingly Sunny Beginning...

Wow. We’re finally here at Hatfield and starting our awesome term of marine biology. This past weekend has already seen an immense amount of rain which we thought would continue all week, but our first day of class proved to be a beautiful day. We were able to take a tour of HMSC, and board the Oceanus, a research vessel which is replacing the Wecoma, and we had our first lecture. 

Today we were scheduled to hike up to Cascade Head, but due to rain, the trip has been postponed. Too bad during our lunch break the rain cleared up and made it a perfect day to go hiking. Ah well... Instead we had another lecture where we started into marine invertebrates and walked over to the Oregon Coast Aquarium (which was pretty awesome!). While there we saw many invertebrates including moon jelly polyps, sea cucumbers, and a White Knight nudibranch. The birds and the sea lions were also enjoying the sunshine.

We’re looking forward to an excellent discussion on the Northwest Coast with pie tonight!