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.
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.
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.
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