Friday, April 25, 2014

WEEK 4: Fish to Algae Transition

WEEK 4: Fish to Algae Transition

Monday April 21st:
         This week was a transition week. We needed to finish the fish section and move to the algae section. The fish section of the course was coming to an end, yet we had one more field trip before the final test. We were lucky enough to join Dr. Waldo Wakefield and the crew of the Elakha for a few trawls of the lower and upper parts of Yaquina Bay. 

Dr. Wakefield explaining some equipment

The Elakha
          We were sent out in two shifts, the first from 8:00am - 10:30am and the second, from 10:30am - 1:00pm.  We took two trawls of the bottom one each trip. This involved moving the giant frame on the back of the boat with the trawl net attached. Then two students would guide the net into the water. The trawls lasted for ten minutes a piece and gave us valuable data on the abundance and size of fishes in both areas.
Students Guiding Net

          The first group seemed to have an easier time separating the benthic detritus from the fish specimens as their trawl didn’t capture as many oyster shells and algae as the second group. 

Group Two's Catch
         The first trawl managed to catch some interesting specimens, but by far the most exciting catch was the juvenile wolf eel caught by the second group. The eel, pictured below was about two feet long and was found in the trawl of the lower part of the bay. We ended up taking the eel back to the lab for study, planning to return it back to the bay after the test. Instead, the Visitor Center heard about the eel and asked to keep it and use it for display after a health check. Keep an eye out for new Visitor Center exhibits as Wolfie here may be a part of the next one.
Displaying photo.JPG
Wolfie - The Wolf Eel

           After the trawls, it was time for our final lecture on community ecology of fishes. Afterwards we retired to our dorms and the library to finish our studying before the test the next afternoon.

Tuesday April 22nd:

          Test day. All of the students packed into the class room nervous about our tests. After two hours it was over and we were free for the next 36 hours...unless you had yet to finish your homework. Thanks Dr. Su Sponagle for a great and entertaining section of teaching (and the cookies before the test) and thanks to Jesse Reimer our TA.

Wednesday, April 23rd

Today the class got a well-deserved, if very wet, break from our studies.  The first part of the morning we handed in our lab notebooks and fieldbooks for grading, and we had free time the rest of the day.

Thursday, April 24th

Today we began a new unit—marine algae.  Our class also has an awesome new prof: Annette Olsen.  Her introduction of morning tea breaks was warmly welcomed.  The class learned in lecture about the ecological significance of algae, its origins, it morphologies and its life histories.  In lab we practiced using a dichotomous key to identify a green, filamentous alga and practiced making cross sections and viewing them under a microscope.  We also were assigned our teams and each team was given a “treasure algae” that we are to become experts on.  In the evening we learned how to press seaweed—as much an art as a technique.  We each got to press our own specimen.

Friday, April 25th

The weather was gorgeous—perfect for our field trip to Seal Rock! Today we began studying the Green Algae—Chlorophyta—with a demo from the professor.  She showed us which specimens in the lab were from this group.  After that we headed to lecture, where we learned more about them and Chlorophyta.  Later in lab we keyed out and took a cross section of an alga, and also learned about kelps.  Around two in the afternoon we prepped for the trip and headed out in our vans.  After parking, everyone headed down to the beach on a paved road: definitely a welcome respite from scrambling down muddy hills.  The waves crashed magnificently on the extruded basalt pinnacles, and a sleepy pod of seals sunbathed on a rock out in the deep intertidal zone.  We walked in a wide circle, observing and collecting samples of our treasure species.  The professor moved back and forth between groups explaining where the best places to them were, and also explaining the ecology and geology of the area.  As we walked we kicked up small clods of the sparkly sand.


Oh such beautiful weather...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week 3- Fish!

This week we dove in to the subject of fish. Starting off strong, on day 1 we were introduced to our new professor, Su Sponaugle, and TA, Jessie Reimer. We wasted no time, powering through 3 lectures ranging from anatomy to habitats, and learned how to identify all kinds of local species of fish in lab using dichotomous keys.

Yaquina Bay Seining 
On Tuesday we made the "long" journey to Yaquina Bay, where we participated in a beach seine. That was a first for many of us. Anticipation grew as two students dragged the net in to shore. As soon as the water had drained, we were all scrambling to locate as many varying fish species as possible. We were able to find Syngnathus leptorhynchus (Bay pipefish), Platichthys stellatus (Starry flounder), Parophrys vetulus (English sole), Oncorhynchus keta (Chum salmon), and about a million different sculpin.

All captured specimen were measured for total length and counted, before being released (for the most part).

Bright and early Wednesday morning we readied ourselves for another education packed day, starting with a lecture in which we tried to understand otolith measurements in relation to age determination, followed by a guest lecture. Dr. Bob Cowen was able to take time from his busy schedule of leading all of HMSC to talk to us about rocky reefs and kelp beds. This lecture did an excellent job of expanding on the characteristics of the rocky intertidal shore that we had begun to learn the first week.

Newport Aquarium
In order to prepare for our short reports on a species of our choice, we headed to the aquarium next door to take a look at subtidal species. Everyone went their own ways, furiously sketching and taking notes on many species, and strangely all converging near the rockfish tanks and the shark tunnel. 

When we returned, we learned about 3 very related subjects, swimming, schooling, and migration.

Boiler Bay
For the first time in the history of the past 3 weeks, we had a real Oregon field day, rain and all. After climbing down into the bay, we dispersed and had our first try at finding fish in tidepools. Many were discouraged, though some struck gold, finding various types of...sculpin. Luckily we found a singular Xiphister artropurpureus (Black prickleback) that became the subject of many of our lab notebook drawings.

After our rainy excursion we dried off and made our way to a guest lecture by PhD student Jessica Luo, who taught us about the importance of plankton and size relationships between levels of the trophic system. We also took time to plan an observational study with the whole class that would be carried out the following day. We discussed methods of measurements of tidepool characteristics, planned data tables, as well as posed questions we would like answered in regards to the relationships between tidepools and their fish inhabitants. 

Strawberry Hill
On our last day of week 3 we were greeted by the sun once again and were able to conduct our data collections in comfort. We set out in groups of 3-4 and measured tidepool surface area, depth, rugosity, substrate cover, and attempted to capture and measure all the fish in each tidepool we worked on. It seemed that most people were enthused about catching fish, with the number of fish per tidepool varying from 0 to 21. The discovery of the day was a juvenile Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus).
Here we see some students measuring for the surface area of the tidepool.


Overall, we have had a great and adventurous week learning about fish. On to the next!

Written by: Raine Robison, Britnee Niehus, & Adam Brown

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week Two!

On Monday, we kicked off the week learning about Arthropods. After a lecture that included crabs, insects and many other crustaceany things, we also learned about Tardigrades: The magical, indestructible,  almost undetectable, water bears!

Above: Carcinus maeans; The European
Green Crab
Guest speaker, Dr. Sylvia Yamada, then informed us about the history of European Green Grab, or Carcinus maeans, on our coast. The European Green Crab was earliest detected in 1989 in San Francisco Bay, and had reached Coos Bay by 1997. They disrupt eel grass restoration plots, and prevent establishment of mussel and clam beds. Their expansion is due to the warmer El Nino events, like the one in 1997-1998 which brought them to Coos Bay. However, without further strong El Nino events, green crabs are likely to go extinct in the Pacific Northwest in the coming years.

Our classmates sporting their SCUBA
masks to get a better look around!

On Tuesday, we traveled to the Newport Bay docks to collect more specimens! We were hoping to find some Ctenophores and Scyphozoans (or jellyfish!). In the many specimens that we collected, we had two species of Hydrozoan jellyfish: Polyorchis penicillatus, and Polyorchis haplus.

Hydrozoans Polyorchis penicillatus,
and Polyorchis haplus.

Learning about how sea stars
evert their stomach to feed.

Wednesday night we all got to brag about our favorite invertebrates by presenting about them in front of the class at the 9th Annual Dessert Extravaganza: creativeness was encouraged! That night we all played Nudibranch Jeopardy!, sang follow-along camp songs about the sunflower starfish, listened to a poem about Tardigrades, and many other fun invertebrate-related things!

Cuttlefish locomotion demonstration.

After a fun night of presenting (which aided in the studying process), we all continued to study for Friday's exams. Most of the day was spent focused on memorizing feeding structures, tissue layers, body plans and latin names. In the afternoon, some of us decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and quiz each other while playing volleyball!

Friday: With pencils sharpened, and coffee consumed, we took our exams (and rocked them!). After the lab was clean, some of us headed home for some much needed R&R, while others stayed on campus to volunteer for Saturday's Hatfield Marine Science Day.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hello Hatfield!

Welcome to Hatfield spring 2014! 22 of us have now found a new home here. We are all very enthusiastic about the journey to come; lectures, lab and field work included. This first week included beautiful weather and fantastic conditions for playing, I mean working outside. In lecture this week we learned all about sponges, cnidarians, ctenophores and about the super cool worms! We are all adjusting to this new and fast-paced work load.

Our new home/lab

Cascade Head  

On Tuesday our class had the opportunity of hiking Cascade Head and looking out across the ocean and shoreline. We were fortunate in that we could see for miles and miles as the weather was awesome! We learned earlier in the day that the Oregon Silver Spot Butterfly is endangered and can only survive as larvae on purple violets. These flowers are being out competed by prairie grasses and are very low in abundance. The adult butterflies don’t feed on these violets, however, the caterpillar of this species does.  We spent much time looking for these tiny, and I mean tiny, flowers and butterflies. Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the insects but we did spot some violets!

The beginning of the hike was treacherous; nah just kidding. Everyone should hike up there for the beautiful view

Boiler Bay

Our next adventure took place at Boiler bay which is just North of Depot Bay.  The class had a fun time climbing and searching for different invertebrates throughout the tide pools and rocks.  Some of the species we found include:

Top picture: Clown Nudibranch (Triopha catalinae). Bottom left: Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). Bottom right: Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) All these lucky individuals had the privilege of coming back with us to be put in our laboratory tanks. (Don’t worry we are taking good care of our marine friends! They are so photogenic for the pictures we have to draw for our lab notebooks).  

Boiler Bay is as named because of a 
shipwreck in the early 1900's. Here is  
a picture of the boiler that still sits 
among the rocks. If you are able to 
visit during really low tides, you may 
even be able to catch a glimpse of the 

Strawberry Hill

Thursday consisted of a trip to Strawberry Hill, nope no strawberries to be found, to collect more invertebrates. This site also had a few different species of Nudibranchs which we immediately fell in love with.

Ready for our “mud shots”!

Our last field trip of this first week took us on a special trip that not all were especially prepared for.  We went to Yaquina Bay to get “down n' dirty” in the mud flats to collect shrimp and worms.  What we thought would be a very cheap mud bath turned into a very interesting trek into the deep mud, let’s just say that sticks were VERY helpful.

By Ashtyn Isaak and Kristi Knoll

Friday, April 4, 2014

Welcome to Hatfield

Welcome to the coast for studying marine biology! We've had quite a few adventures already, but to start off, here's our class photo at Cascade Head.