Friday, June 5, 2015

Clever Tidal-the end of the Bio450 2k15

After ten weeks of long nights, early mornings, intertidal explorations, and paper writing we have finally come to the end. Our entire experience at Hatfield has lead up to this week, and the presentation of our final projects. We spent many weeks familiarizing ourselves with the different realms of marine science, so that we could test and present projects of our own.
Having the opportunity to test any hypothesis we wanted gave us the freedom and opportunity to explore whatever we found alluring. For some of us that meant we could study the effects of fresh water on marine algae, or test the anthropogenic effects on fish communities. For others this meant we could immerse ourselves in the study of the feeding habits of marine snails, or the recruitment patterns of muscle larvae. Whatever the topic, the beauty of this week was that we were able to present projects that reflected our interests, and represented our goals.

It has been a long journey learning to get to know each other, and along the way we have made mistakes, angered each other, driven each other to tears, and held each other up. But most importantly (at least for me) was learning that we all have more in common than we may have previously thought. It has been a rare and incredible opportunity to get to know each and every one of the members of this class. We have all been offered the chance to take a closer look at the world around us, and allow ourselves to experience what we normally would take for granted, or look over without a second thought. Many people walk through the rocky intertidal, but few get the chance to take a closer look, and gain and understanding of what exists there. The same is true for getting to know all of you.

Living at Hatfield is like living in a tidepool. The tide has gone out and marooned us all together in a small inescapable environment, forcing us to coexist with each other and find our individual niches. It has taken time, but I am glad to say that each one of us has found a special connection here, maybe not with the people we expected, but perhaps with the people we needed. As an individual I did not expect myself to connect so authentically with so many of you, but I am grateful that I did. 

There is beauty in every human being, each one of us has a story to tell, and a passion which we wish to share. This week we finally had the chance to show that. Each of us put our hearts and souls into our presentations and the results were remarkable. Some of us fought through sickness to collect data, when faced with a failed project others of us designed and executed a project in a single weekend. Some of us spent hours in the lab behind microscopes and computer screens, weighing barnacles, counting muscle recruits, and weighing samples, all to collect data. We all spent hours in the field, in the pursuit of data, and we did because we wanted to! We were driven to collect and present our data, because it was OUR data, no one else’s.

 In all of our projects we were able to test hypothesis that have never been tested before, and in doing so we have contributed to the depth of knowledge that exists in the scientific community. We have finally been given our chance to shine and we all took it. 

Every single one of us performed incredibly. We should all be proud of ourselves. Congratulations. 

If I have learned anything from this experience it has been that there is always beauty around you, in the people you meet, in the places you go, underneath the rocks beneath your feet, or buried in the sand. Beauty will always find you if you let it. Hatfield class of 2015 go forward in your lives and pursue whatever it is that moves you, but do not forget the gifts of the ocean that have been offered to you here, do not forget the people you have touched, and the people that have touched you.

 We are all as a human race on a ship together, witnessing the oddities of the strange and wonderful world around us. Whatever choices you make, we are all bound together. Don’t forget that you have a power to change the world around you, and make it a more beautiful place. 

As the sun sets on our journey together I would like to leave you with this suggestion: Wherever life may lead you, whatever path you may take trust in yourself, in your gut, and in your highest self. The way may not always be clear, but if you have faith in yourself you can face life with no fear. 

Be well.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Becoming Educated in Marine Conservation and Policies

By: Chaleen Begin & Cat Lo
After having a relaxing three day weekend for Memorial Day, we launched right into learning about topics in marine conservation and policies on Tuesday, May 26th from our new instructor, Sarah Henkel. This week was all about getting exposed to current states of our marine ecosystems through a local, national, and global scale, and recognize potential solutions that have been established or may be in the works. Examples of policies, management plans, and other restoration goals such as the watershed and salmon restoration were explored in this week.

Because the weeks in this course were slightly modified to accommodate low tide for our research projects, we actually began the course on the previous Friday talking about the current state of the oceans and services that can be provided which include aquaculture and renewable energy sources.  We ended the day by getting into groups to choose conservation topics to we wanted to present. What a great way to start off the long weekend!

Our focus on Tuesday was to tackle important information about marine reserves and the ecological benefits and management concerns that result from them. Marine Reserves (MR) are designated areas that prohibit any commercial or recreational efforts to remove something in the area, also known as no-take. Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in general is a loose term that can consist of occasional no-take reserves, but essentially the main idea is to assist in the conservation for marine resources.
If you’re ever curious, MRs and MPAs in Oregon aim to succeed in three main goals: 1. Preserve cultural and or natural heritage, 2. protect habitats, and 3. create reference areas that will assist scientific research and monitoring for efficiency.

Later that evening we all gathered in the Guin Library for an informative discussion about our own ideas on the science, policy, and ethics scientists face with. We have some very engaging minds in the class and it’s safe to say it was a successful discussion!

Laura explaining the components of a crab pot. 
Look at how large they are! (May 27, 2015)

On Wednesday, we were lucky enough to meet with Laura Anderson, the owner of a popular restaurant just on the Bayfront called Local Oceans to learn about sustainability and the decisions for choosing certain seafoods to place on the market. Laura guided us through the docks to point out key features on the boats important for identifying what type of fish they catch.  

This circular net is being built for capturing pink bay shrimp

Here are some hoochies found on one of the boats. Don’t be confused by the name, these are perfect lures to capture Salmon. (Image right)

A key feature of this boat indicates that it uses trolling methods to send out multiple fishing lines with bait to catch fish such as Salmon and other pelagic fish (Image left).

19 eager students ready to eat some delicious food at Local Oceans!

After our highly informative dock walk, we went straight to Local Oceans for a delicious early lunch.  Thank you again Laura for providing such valuable information on fisheries!

We finished the day off by pushing through a couple hours of lectures. Methods to reduce bycatch and the effects of climate change on oceans were highlighted. Lastly, Sarah kindly showed us a brief introduction to seabirds and their intense connection they’ve created between the land and sea. 

Paul Engelmeyer (right) spent the
day with the class discussing his
conservation efforts and successes.
Here he is showing a map of the
 land use in the central Oregon coast
 at Cape Perpetua (May 28, 2015)
Thursday, we had the opportunity to meet with Paul Engelmeyer at Cape Perpetua as he told us about his work as a conservationist working in many different areas; from watershed council, forest management, MPA’s and MR’s, and much more. Paul taught us the importance of restoring forests, marine areas, and protection of species such as Salmon and the Marbled Murrelet. After walking through the scenic area we moved onto Tenmile Creek were we learned about an ODFW project that looks at the number of fish coming down the river by using a rotary screw trap. We heard about their project as well as the importance of drift wood in the river. The wood provides a habitat for the fish which helps protect fish from predators and gives them a chance to rest. 
ODFW Rotary Screw Trap at Tenmile Creek 

At this point we got the chance to see and touch a lamprey that had spent the last 8 months in the river fasting and reproducing. After looking at the fish from the trap, we moved upstream of Tenmile Creek where we got to explore the old growth forest and learn more about the Marbled Murrelet. Paul walked us through the old growth forest pointing out the Sitka Spruce, and the habitat used by the Murrelet. The Marbled Murrelet is an endangered marine bird that spends most of the time at sea, however once a year they come inland, up to about 50 miles, to nest. Each year they only lay one egg in the old growth forests in California, Oregon, and Washington. This is a unique bird and Paul has done amazing work to study and protect the Marbled Murrelet.
Cat (left), Landon (middle), and Rachel (Left) 
holding the Lamprey at Tenmile Creek 
Paul Engelmeyer talking about the 
old growth forest and the
 Sitka Spruce at Tenmile Creek 

Friday, May 29th, was our last day of Marine Conservation and Policy, and our last of class for the term. We spent then day presenting our conservation and policy projects to the class. Projects topics included: Hagfish fisheries, the Arctic Ocean, coral reefs, artificial reefs, phytoplankton blooms, ocean acidification, marine resources as medicine, and several more. Each presentation offered new information and new insight on conservation and policy in many different areas to the class. Overall we had a fantastic week, and we couldn’t have done it without the most enthusiastic Sarah Henkel and passionate Paul Engelmeyer.
Rachel presenting to the class about coral reef conservation. Nice job Rachel! (May 29, 2015)

Friday, May 22, 2015


This week has been all about PROJECTS! There are a total of 12 groups working on a variety of research topics. Some groups get to play in the field all day, while others are more studious in the lab. Group research topics have shown how diverse the 2015 class is when it comes to areas of interest. Some chose to work with algae, and others found their passion lying with invertebrates or fishes. Groups are even tackling the complexity of multiple species and how they interact with one another.

Natalie and Amanda playing in the mud!
Melanie, Amanda, and Natalie really committed to their project by getting down and dirty in the mud. Their week consisted of early mornings and lots of coffee in order to complete multiple beach seining collections. While out in the field, they collected data on salinity and biodiversity. Their focus is on determining the effects of salinity on biodiversity at several locations along the Oregon Coast. However, struggles have arisen and huge fluctuations in salinity have brought complications for the group. But with such dedication to their projects, they have been able to move forward and will be able to present to the public in just a few weeks.

First crab caught by Chaleen, Kylee, and Ashley,
while Chaleen is in the back looking for
the missing traps.
Speaking of projects not going as planning, one group really was off to a rough start at the beginning of the week. Chaleen, Kylee, and Ashley were looking at the abundance and size distribution of red rock crabs (Cancer productus) at popular crabbing locations compared to non-crabbing locations. However, the first few days proved to be discouraging because they had no luck catching any crabs and couldn’t  find some traps after putting them too far down the shoreline. Luck quickly turned around though after they switch the bait being used from cat food to chicken. So to all of you crabbers out there, take it form them and don’t use cat food! Finally they had caught a crab and were beyond stoked, even if it was just one! The week progressed and so did the amount of crabs they caught. Yay for more data!

Crabbing is a huge sport along the Oregon Coast that people partake in recreationally and commercially. It is so popular that regulations are set in place for determining what size, sex, and species of crab can be taken. However, this in not the case for red rock crabs because any sex or size can be taken. With such open availability to take these crabs, it is important to see if there is an effect on their size and abundance; especially right now in the spring when Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) are less abundant. Red rock crabs may be significantly impacted if they are the ones being mostly caught at this time.

Cat and Kat working on their experiment on pipefish!
Cat (left) and Kat (right) worked on a lab experiment, in which they created an aquarium to test habitat preference of the estuarine pipefish, Syngnathous leptorhynchus. One side of the aquarium had eelgrass with one of two types of epiphytic algae, while the other side had eelgrass without epiphytes. They collected 42 pipefish while seining in Yaquina Bay to use in their experiment. It will be interesting to hear the results during week 10!

Levi being scientific and cutting open Pollicipes.

Levi is shown in the picture cutting open a Pollicipes polymerus to look for signs of reproduction. Levi and his group-mates, Max and Julia, also participated in cutting open these barnacles, as well as wrapping them in foil and sticking them in an oven to dry-mass them afterwards. Sounds brutal!

Landon's Release Chamber O' Fish!

Here is a picture of the lab experiment that I (Landon) did this week. In this aquarium, one side consists of only bare rocks, whereas the other side consists of various types of algae. I (Landon) collected fishes of various colors from the field and placed them one at a time in a fancy release chamber, which I (Landon) invented. The fish could swim out of the Release Chamber O’ Fish (patent pending) and decide which habitat to choose. This experiment was done to determine if there is a difference in habitat preference among fishes of different colors. In regards to the natural history aspect of this particular project, tidepool fishes have been shown to prefer tidepools with certain sets characteristics. Rugosity, depth, size, intertidal height, and algal composition of a tidepool are some of the characteristics that may influence the distribution of tidepool fishes. This experiment along with a field study will hopefully provide insight into differences of habitat preference among fishes of different colors.