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

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun in the Mud!

Shrimp in the lab
It's the end of our first week at Hatfield and it's been a great one! We finished this week off strong with lectures all about worms and one more field trip to the mud flats in Yaquina Bay. The class was on the lookout for these exciting creatures, and we found some!
Another cool photo from Josh
After we donned our rain and mud gear, we set out for the mud flat and found it's a difficult place to get around. Within the first few feet, people were already getting stuck in the ankle deep mud that soon turned to knee deep mud.
The trek out through the mud
There were many strategies to break free from the mud, using shovels or a friend, but eventually many of us just gave up and started to crawl across the mud. Some adventurous classmates decided to slide through the mud on their backs and found it worked surprisingly well!
Getting dirty in the mud!
It wasn't all just playing games in the much. Not only did we find lots of interesting invertebrates, we also learned about how these organisms, like the burrowing shrimp affect the stability of the mud. It was a great first week at Hatfield and we're looking forward to more exciting adventures to come!
Thanks for the cool picture Ellen!

The New World of Invertebrates

The steep hike down to Boiler Bay
Collecting specimens at Strawberry Hill
We started off Wednesday and Thursday with lectures about the unique characteristics of invertebrates common to the Oregon coast. And now time for a new adventure! Off to Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill to collect some of the invertebrate about which we've been learning. Everyone was on the lookout for an invertebrate called the by-the-wind-sailor (Vellela vellela). This species can look like an alien to an everyday-passerby on the beach, but it's actually a free-floating colony of polyps. With a brilliant blue color and a sail that catches the wind, these organisms move around the ocean and sometimes get stranded on the sandy beaches. Only some of these creatures accidentally end up on our beaches.  It's all based on what direction their sail faces. Half of these ocean sailors have a sail turned to the right and the other half have a sail turned to the left. Thus, the same wind sends them in opposite directions. Unfortunately for us, we didn't bump into any of these on our travels (good for Vellela vellela).
(photo source)
We did find some other great ones though! Some of our favorites that we found were:
Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica)
(photo source)

 Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula )
Cool photo by Josh!

and the Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)
(photo credit)

After we brought these organisms to their new home back in our lab, we spent some time identifying and drawing them. We're making lab notebooks about the critters we found with pictures and the interesting information about them. It's a lot of fun being able to see the organisms we're learning about in person. Another two great days at Hatfield!

A Home in Hatfield

The 2013 class
 Welcome to Hatfield! Our new home for the next 10 weeks. We were welcomed to Hatfield with beautiful sunny weather and blue skies. This lasted only a short while before Oregon showed its true colors in the form of hurricane rain and gale force winds. The people at Hatfield were much nicer than the weather and graciously showed us their facilities. After we moved in and had a tour, we jumped right into the natural history of the Oregon coast on Monday morning.

Like everything at Hatfield, we reinforced what we learned in the classroom by experiencing it. Field trip time!
   On Tuesday, the class hiked up the beautiful Cascade Head where we looked for unique landscape characteristics of the Oregon coast (and whales!), but instead we saw nothing but a giant cloud. 
Looking for whales!

  Thankfully, as our professor Dr. Sally Hacker promised, the weather cleared up and everyone enjoyed the breath taking views from atop Cascade Head. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcome to Hatfield!

Welcome to Hatfield Marine Science Center for Marine Biology 2013! I hope everyone is excited to learn about the amazing world of marine inverts and see animals that you never knew existed! I know I'm looking forward to this week's tidepooling and mud-filled adventures...
Well... tardigrades aren't really marine species. So...