Friday, June 7, 2013


This is our final week here at Hatfield Marine Science Center, and we have all been working very hard on our final projects. We have all spent many hours working on statistics with our TA Reuben and none of us could have done it without him. We have also relied on our teachers to guide us through the process of writing a scientific paper. For the few seniors here, today marks the last day of our undergraduate career, and I could not think of a better way to end it. We will all remember the time spent here this term. These ten weeks has flown by and we have all learned so much and made great new friends. 

Here is a little about what we taught each other today:

Ellen Dow studied the symbiosis relationships between anemones and dinoflagellates. She had a great experimental set up and spent a lot of time under a microscope.

Arianna Snow, Kristen Beem and Alex Carsh looked at the growth rate of a local kelp Saccharina sessilis. The altered lighting conditions and made comparisons between field and laboratory experiments.

Aubree Minten, Anna Vercruyssen and Katie Blacketor studied the feeding habits of "baby" sea stars. They later found out that one of their studio species just had a very small adult stage and only looked like babies. This revelation was made by one of our instructors Bruce Menge.

Jake Brown and Paul Stiger looked at food preference of the local kelp crab. Their results were very interesting showing they feed on a variety of algae and invertebrates.

Erin Jaco and Sarah Heidmann went into the field to study the settlement preference of the local (and very tasty) dungeness crab.

Virinda Boyle and Tori Klein(not pictured) probably had the most fun and got to study one of the resident giant pacific octopuses here at Hatfield. They taught him how to open a screw top jar and tested his memory.

Cassidy Huun did a field study looking at topography and sea star abundance. She got to enjoy some lovely weather we had during her data collection times at Strawberry Hill.

Eli Waddell, Emily Anderson and Josh Borland took their hermit crabs shell shopping. They found that crabs have a preferred shell but do get annoyed when repeatedly removed from their shells.

Emily Hunt (author 1) and Sheila VanHofwegen looked into the local myth about urchin stampedes. While we didn't see any stampedes, we did find that urchins can tell when a predator is near and will flee from it.

Taylor Derlacki, Megan Beazley(author 2) and Meghan Atkinson studied trait mediated interaction of a local food web. Their study included the invasive European Green Crab and its relationship to snails and algae.

The full gang together for the last time!!!

So long Hatfield Marine Science Center and Marine Biology 450. This has been an incredible experience for all of us!!!

Emily Hunt and Megan Beazley

Friday, May 31, 2013

Week 9 - The final stretch

Week 9 marked the official start of the final research projects. People are well on their way with data collection and preparing to give their final presentations next week! We have a diverse set of  interesting projects this year! Here's what everyone's doing:

  • Alex, Ariana, and Kristin are looking at the growth rates of lettuce kelp (Saccharina sessilis) in response to various levels of light.
    But did it remember to wear sunscreen?
  • Sarah and Erin are studying the habitat preferences of juvenile Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) between mud and two types of seagrass.
Yes, that's a baby Dungeness.
  • Meghan, Megan, and Taylor are checking out the effects of predator presence on the grazing of littorine snails (Littorina spp.).
  • Tori and Virinda are testing the ability of the giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) to recognize different patterns as food signals.
"BEST THING EVER!" - Tori and Virinda
  • Paul and Jake are looking at the dietary preferences of kelp crabs (Pugettia producta) in response to kelp availability.
  • Ellen is recording the mitotic index (rate of cell division) in the tentacles of the painted anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima).
This is what science looks like.
  • Emily H. and Sheila are looking at the ability of purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to escape predation from sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides).
  • Emily A., Eli, and Josh are looking at the preferred shells of hermit crabs (Pagurus hirsutiosculus) based on the shell's species of origin.
Unfortunately, some of their test subjects are a bit... crabby.
  • Cassidy is looking at the distance between the mussel bed and the water level in relation to the abundance of ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus).
  • Katie, Aubree, and Anna are looking at diets of baby sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus and Leptasterias hexactis in the presence of competitors.
Everyone hard at work!
Good luck with your projects, everyone! We'll see you for your presentations on Week 10!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week 8 brought some new and exciting adventures, as usual. The class wasted no time diving right back into marine policy lectures on Monday morning. Some highlights of the day included guest lectures by representatives of ODFW on marine protected areas and also by Karen McLeod who works for COMPASS, a company that collaborates with scientists to help make science more accessible to everyone.

Despite the rain, Tuesday was equally as eventful. The class split into two groups and took a "dock walk" with either the head chef or owner, an alumna of the Marine Resource Management program at OSU, of Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport. On the docks, we learned about various fishing techniques and the differences in their sustainability. With a delicious and sustainably caught lunch in our bellies, we returned to Hatfield to hear Dr. Rob Suryan tell us about some interesting sea birds.

With another field trip on Wednesday, the week was jam packed with fun. The rain kept us from the pinnacle of Cape Perpetua but we enjoyed a damp hike through Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary with Paul Engelmeyer of the Audubon Society. We got a chance to see the ODFW smolt trap on Ten Mile


Creek and got rather "attached" to a adult lamprey that we found there. After that, Paul showed us some prime old growth Spruce habitat for a seabird called the Marbled Murrelet, which nests high up in the canopy of coastal forests.

Some of us began to feel the pressure of impending deadlines for papers and presentations due Thursday morning. We were divided into groups and assigned a specific issue related to marine policy to present on. Selected target audiences ranged anywhere from 6th grade students to Chilean policymakers. All in all, the presentations were a success and everyone came out of Week 8 a champ!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It’s now week 7 here at the HMSC. With our minds jam-packed full of knowledge from the previous sections we prepared ourselves for an additional presentation and test to finish the Community Ecology section. The presentation was divided into multiple groups based on the data collections from the previous week. Each group had a different kind of data, ranging from tide pool diversity to predator prey analysis, and therefore a different kind of presentation and focus. After two intensive days (Monday and Tuesday) studying and preparing in the library, the morning of the presentations finally arrived. True to our nature, the presentations were a hit! While the statistical analysis proved to be a formidable opponent each group pulled through with a hard won victory.

Celebrations were in order and several students rushed to the break room to enjoy their hard-earned, delicious, and FREE doughnuts. The celebrations were short lived however as our Community Ecology final was the very next day. People were frantically trying to prepare themselves for the test, and several students hit the books as soon as they finished their presentations.  There was a lot of focus as students tried to nail down what the differences were between apparent competition and regular competition, what determines species richness, and most importantly what the differences were between a regular Pisaster and a Kickaster! Fortunately it was an open note test which alleviated a lot of the pressure so that when test-time came around most everyone was ready…except for one unnamed student who had an apparent mix-up with the schedule.  Luckily, this student managed to make it in time and finish successfully (we hope)!

 A handy Identification guide by Alexander.
Day one of the Marine Conservation and Policy section began promptly the next day providing the opportunity for more group work within the following week and another challenge for the students of the BI450 class of 2013.  Will the students be able to overcome the depressing news that is the current state and affairs of marine conservation and policy!? Can we really make a difference before it’s too late?! And will Jake manage to make it to class on time?! We’ll find out this and more in the next week of BI 450!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We began our section on marine community ecology this week with Bruce Menge. We have spent the last few weeks learning about the organisms in Oregon’s intertidal zone, and this week we got to learn about the bigger picture and how the organisms interact together and make up a community. Our field trips were very different this week compared to past field trips, even though we still visited Strawberry Hill and Boiler Bay. We had to get up before sunrise to catch the low tides along with spending several hours working in the field. This week, instead of searching for certain taxa, we have been learning several different community surveying techniques. Techniques such as conducting biodiversity counts, observing welk and seastar diets, determining tidepool biodiversity, and using transects and quadrats to determine biodiversity. 

Hard at work using transects and quadrats to determine biodiversity

We completed 120 of these quadrat surveys as a class
over the course of the week
Learning about the community structure in the rocky intertidal is important because it is a model ecosystem that could aid in answering some broader ecological questions and can be used as a baseline for other ecosystems and can shed light on better resource management. 

Each day after the field, we got together in groups and organized and analyzed our data, so that we can write reports on our findings next week. 

We had four guest lecturers this week (Sarah Close, Liz Cerny‐Chipman, Chenchen Shen, and Jeremy Rose) all PhD candidates presenting their research. It was exciting to see real world applications of what we were learning in class. 

Pachygrapsus crassipes
While we were in the field, we got to see some really interesting species that we haven’t come across in previous weeks. In Manipulation Bay (below the main parking lot of Boiler Bay), Aubree found a dead Longnose Skate, Raja rhina, washed up in the low intertidal zone, we found a Striped Shore Crab, Pachygrapsus crassipes, a spawning Pisaster ochraceous at Strawberry Hill, and a polychete in Yaquina Bay during survey practice.

Raja rhina 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The algae section continued with a trip to boiler bay. We were able to apply a lot of our new found knowledge in the field this time around as we individually identified and collected species for a presentation on a specific group of algae. Boiler Bay also presented us with incredibly diverse algae as compared to Strawberry Hill.

Alexander huffing some Prionitis. It smellls like chlorine, bleh
Annette gave us the great idea of making a horn out of some  washed up  Nereocystis we found

Much of the week was spent keying out and identifying algae species in the lab. The labs were divided by species type and key characteristics. It was during these lab periods that Paul and Jake made a startlingly and exciting discovery that rocked the algae world and rewrote the history books on Oregon algae. These two stellar algae pioneers identified an epiphytic species of Ceramium that has only been seen in the San Juan Islands of Washington State! The experts (Gayle) were called in to affirm the new species. Having identified it as Ceramium zacae, Gayle told the boys that their discovery would be archived in the Oregon State University collection and that their names would be forever enshrined along side their discovery. Rumors of a cash prize and visit from President Obama have been circulating following Jake and Paul's new found stardom in the algae community. 

Along with this exiting discovery, Momma Aubree turned 27 years young on Tuesday and celebrated in true fashion with birthday hats, birthday drinks and Octopus inspired birthday cake, Luckily no one got too crazy and stripped down to their birthday suits.... 

Unfortunately, the exciting events surrounding the new discovery were short lived due to the storm that lay ahead. The lab practical and final test were still off in the distance like a dark and ominous storm building off the Oregon coast. The students hunkered down in the library and lab, preparing for the worst. Some faired the storm better than others, but thankfully although the test left some bruised, battered and sleep deprived, it looks as though everyone is still afloat and will finish the course off strong. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

What does seaweed say when it’s stuck at the bottom of the sea?… “Kelp! Kelp!”

Lets Learn About Algae!

Thursday was the first day of algae. We met Dr. Olson and started right in on learning the phylogenetic and thallus differences between the three phyla of seaweeds. We had our first lab in which we tried to identify the characteristics that we had just learned about, such as holdfasts and branching patterns, as well as guessing the phylum. We didn't waste any time. After all the lectures were over we learned how to key algae using a dichotomous key. Following dinner we met back in the lab where we got a lesson in pressing algae and some teams had a one on one meeting with Annette and Jeremy to discuss what algae to look for in the field.

Baby Pisaster and Prionitis (it smells like bleach : / ).
The Early Bird Gets The Worm.

Friday we had to wake up extra early to catch the low tide at Seal Rock. After a five am wake up call we all met at the vans for our first day of algae hunting. 

Annette talking about Neorhodomela larix.
Katie, Anna, and Aubree playing tug-o-war with Egregia menziesii.
Annette walked us through most of the algae we saw, explaining how to tell differences between them and of which phylum they belonged. She also gave us a brief lesson in the natural history of Seal Rock. We saw many dykes and surge channels in the sandy area. The sediment creates fluid pressure causing cracks in the volcanic rock. We also talked about how the vegetation up high prevents erosion of the land. Houses can't be built too close to the shore, because without the natural vegetation the house would slip into the water. 
Jake giving himself a Halosaccion glandifomre/ Neorhodomela larix mustache.
We got back to class and learned more about Phaeophytes (brown algae) and had a keying lab to be able to better identify them. It turns out that brown algae are more difficult to key out than one would think. Everyone struggled with cross-sectioning those little guys! 0_o 
The rest of the teams met with Annette and Jeremy that night, while everyone else hit the volleyball court. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What did the Pacific Ocean say to the Atlantic Ocean?… Nothing, it just waved

Suns out, Guns out!
Our hard work paid off, and the test went great.  Is it because Scott is such a great teacher or because we're the best class to come to Hatfield? Nobody knows. The test scores will speak the truth. We spent the rest of Tuesday as well as Wednesday playing out in the sunshine.We played basketball, volleyball, and some just soaked up the sun. After a long day we made a beautiful dinner together and spent the night watching movies and eating popcorn, but made it to bed early enough to be ready for the algae section. It was precious.

You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.

Trawling day!
Woo Hoo, we finally got to go out on a boat!! What a perfect day it was for it too.
The sun was shining. We got a little taste of what it would be like to be fisherman. The first group boarded The Kalipi at eight in the morning; obviously too early for some because one of us almost got pulled in by a tangling rope. 

Out on the boat.

Each of the three groups spent two hours lowering the trawling net into Yaquina Bay for ten minutes and counting and measuring the fish caught. 

Among crabs, shrimps, and a ton of english sole we caught two new species of fish, the kelp greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) and the snake prickleback (Lumpenus sagitta). By two o'clock all the groups had finished trawling and we met up for one last lecture. 

Meghan measuring a flounder.

Dr. Heppell gave us a quick lecture on his work in the Caribbean. He talked about the reproductive challenges Nassau grouper face in the Cayman islands.

Nassu Grouper looking adorable

That night we studied really hard for our test the next day. with Some of us not getting to bed until three in the morning, we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at eight for our finals. And we NAILED IT!

Aubree and Anna getting their study on.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week three was the start of a new topic section for the Marine Biology 450 class - it's fish week! We were all very excited to learn about Oregon coastal fishes with our instructor, Scott Heppell. Our adventures with marine fishes started with seine net collections in Yaquina Bay. Using the seine nets, we were able to catch over 2,000 fish, including chum salmon and whitebait smelt in one sample! The fish were counted and released, with unique individuals kept to be put back in our lab tanks.

Faceplants in the mudflats are a common occurrence! 

Back in the lab, our class was challenged to dissect a black rockfish and sever the head to find otoliths, or bones within the skull used for balance and sensory activities. By looking at the protein and mineral deposition layers on the otolith, scientists can tell how old the individual is. These layers form distinct rings, much like the rings on a tree - by counting them, one can determine the number of years the fish has been living and can see fast and slow growth periods.

Our lectures this week have included a wide variety of general fish biology topics, from habitat and fisheries management to reproduction and growth. In the coming lectures, we will discuss fisheries management and Marine Protected Area development which are extremely important and relevant topics in our coastal communities.

We returned to the field at Boiler Bay to conduct our second sampling of tidepool fishes. Dr. Heppell made the collection a little more interesting by offering prizes to the pair that caught the most number of fish and the most interesting species. For the most part, teams returned with buckets full of sculpin, with a few clingfish and gunnels. The winning pair returned with 64 sculpins!

The next day, we repeating the collection competition at Strawberry Hill and found similar species with some new snailfish making an appearance. The winning team caught over 100 fish and several interesting species of sculpin, gunnels, and snailfish were found.

Our favorite was the Marbeled Snailfish!

To finish off the week, we spent an afternoon exploring the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Our assignment was to find a "mystery fish" in the exhibits and examine its habitat and behavior. We were all quite excited to visit the aquarium, to say the least!

 The Leopard Shark!

 Our friend the Bat Ray!

We are all eager to continue learning about coastal fish and prepare for our exam this coming week!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From sea squirts to hula skirts: Finishing up marine invertebrates

This past week at Hatfield was successful even with the papers, presentations, and practicals.

Searching for critters

Ctenophores from the docks

 In between lectures about Marine Invertebrates, John Chapman and Silvia Yamada came and presented their interests, respectively, about the Japanese tsunami debris from 2011 and the invasive Carcinus maenas, the European green crab. 
On Tuesday we ventured to the docks in search of Ctenophores and Amphipods.
However, no box jellies were in sight at the docks.

The Whale Riders
Wednesday night’s Marine Invertebrate presentations were amazing and went swimmingly. Each group chose a favorite invertebrate to research and write about, as well as present the information in a creative and entertaining way. 
Puppet show!

Kelp Crab blues
Some of the highlights from this evening were musical stylings about Platyhelminthes (flat worms) and Pugettia producta (the Kelp crab), poetry, an entertaining puppet show for the Giant Pacific Octopus, a Whale Rider (Isopods) skit, cookie decorating for Decorator crabs, and fun and games for box jellyfish and the king crab, which was presented by our own Deadliest Catch fishermen.
Alexander's awesome use of technology to teach about the sea angel with fun and humorous animations

            At the end of this week, we were busy studying for our exam and a lab practical. Some students even participated in a species Jeopardy game to practice the Latin names. Otherwise we were hard at work in the library and lab before completing exams on Friday. We celebrated our first section with a potluck luau put on by the students.

Box Jelly Games
            Lately in the science world, there are promising horizons for a not-so-tasty tunicate. Tunicates or sea squirts are closely related to us Homo sapiens, as they are also in the phylum Chordata. When tunicates are in their larval stage they possess a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve chord, pharyngeal gill slits, and a post-anal tail before they settle down to a sessile state as adults. 

Our Fishermen!
Besides the sea pineapple, a tunicate delicacy in Korea for sushi and Kim chi, tunicates also have brought new and exciting contributions to the health world. Synioicum adareanum is found in sub tidal areas of Antarctica and possesses a polyketide amide that is potent at targeting melanoma cells, while not destroying normal cells. This is an important finding for cancer research and development for a worldwide health concern. Currently this polyketide amide is in the process of being synthesized so no more sea squirts will be exploited for this compound as a cancer treatment.


The ocean is full of potential for medical uses and other human services just waiting to be discovered, another reason for us to take care of our oceans.

Thank you Sally and Reuben for a great Marine Invertebrates Section! We look forward to studying fish.

Our Platyhelminthes song
Emily, Katie and Ellen