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...

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