Saturday, April 25, 2015

Farewell Fish and Hello Algae!

Natalie Coleman and Heidi Meyer

This week started out with our last field trip for the fish section. Su Sponaugle took us to Tokatee Klootchman Natural Wayside where we measured different parameters of tidepools looking at what factors may affected tidepool fish abundance.  We measured 38 tidepools total including length, width, depth, rugosity (measured with a chain run along the bottom) and the number of fish present.  David, Ari, and Landon discovered two cabezon sculpin (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) (Family Cottidae) that had just recruited to the tidepools from an pelagic life stage and were undergoing metamorphosis. As Su explained, these fish had retained some features (silver sides and a more laterally compressed body) from the pelagic life stage and was just starting to adapt to the new tidepool surroundings by flattening out and changing color.
Amanda and Melanie on the way back up the
descent to Tokatee Klootchman

Amanda, Melanie, and Natalie searching for tidepools at Tokatee
 Klootchman Natural Wayside, Spring 2015

 Overall, our study didn’t show any significant relationship between our tidepool factors and fish abundance but we did notice that many of the fish seen were a lot smaller than the fish we observed last week at Boiler Bay, so it is possible there was a recent recruitment event where juvenile fish were coming back into the tidepools. This theory is consistent with a study we discussed before our field trip where they found that there was more recruitment but also more post-recruitment mortality at Tokatee than Boiler Bay (Webster et al. 2007).  We also went on a rainy early morning it is our informed scientific opinion that the fish were sleeping and may have been harder to find.
Natalie and Heidi catching fish in a tidepool at Tokatee

Amanda and Heidi measuring the depth of a tidepool
at Tokatee Klootchman
On Tuesday it was time to turn in all of our work for the fishes section and take the final, with a final goodbye to Su until our group research projects during week seven.  The fun with fishes continued that night while everyone was taking a much needed break before starting algae, with the conversation still returning to adipose fins and dorsal spines. Thank you Su for such an exciting and intensive crash course in fish of the Pacific Northwest.
A variety of algae in tidepools at Seal Rock

Seal Rock Beach April 2015

Our next section on marine algae started Wednesday afternoon with the very ecstatic and enthusiastic Annette Olson. We started off the section with a couple of lectures, including one from Chenchen Shen, a graduate student at OSU, and her research on coralline algae. Groups of two or three were then assigned a taxa where we have to find, collect, and identify specific species from that taxa, while keeping an eye out for our treasure taxa. Our treasure taxa are specific species that we will use to demonstrate to the class the ecology of our taxa.

Neorhodomela larix at Seal Rock

After getting into our groups, the whole class enjoyed a nice break with some tea before diving into our first algae lab. During the lab, we went around and tried to guess certain morphological features on given algae, which ended up teaching us that you can’t judge an algae by its color. Halfway through the lab, Miram poured hot water on five specimens from the three different phyla, and all but one “magically” changed color to green! The only one that stayed the same color was a green algae. We even learned how to press the algae!

Seal Rock, April 2015

Annette Olson explaining all of the types of
algae at Seal Rock

On Thursday, we woke up bright and early and ventured to Seal Rock for the first time this term. Annette showed us all around the beach, taking us to four different spots and helping us find and identify our taxa. Her helpful and essential husband, Charlie, followed the class around and took pictures of his wife while she lectured, he also made sure that she ate later in the day! Once we were back at Hatfield, we cleaned our collections and put them in the respective tanks. After lunch and lectures, we returned to the lab and Annette taught the class how to identify algae with a dichotomous key and how to cross section them.

Annette showing the class some algae at our first
stop at Seal Rock

Students walking to the next spot at Seal Rock

Originally we were supposed to go to Boiler Bay on Friday, but due to the high waves and rainy weather, we ended up switching our Monday and Friday schedule. So instead of spending more time at Boiler Bay, we enjoyed a nice and relaxing half day of lectures and labs. Hello early weekend!

Webster, M.S., J.D. Osborne-Gowey, T.H. Young, T.L. Freidenburg, B.A. Menge. 2007.
Persistent regional variation in populations of a tidepool fish. Journal of Experimental Marine
Biology and Ecology 346: 8-20.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One Fish, Two Fish, Flatfish, Rockfish

Week 3
by Isaac Shepard and Levi Vasquez

After a brief introduction to our new (to us) professor Dr. Su Sponagule and TA Miram Gleiber we wasted no time diving into our hectic schedule for the week, full of field excursions, lab activities and lecutres...

Yaquina Bay Beach Seine
Using a large seine net we collected several species of estuary fishes from Yaquina Bay right in front of Hatfield on Monday afternoon.  Two people would carry the large net out into the water until they were nearly chest deep before spreading it out between them and dragging it back ashore, trapping fishes in the process.  Through the torrential downpour we got our first look at the organisms we would be up against for the rest of the week including several species of Cottids (sculpins), a Bay Pipefish (Syngnathus leptorhynchus) and even a juvenile salmon (Family Salmonidae).

                                                                  Beach Seining in Yaquina Bay

Boiler Bay Tidepool Collections
Our second field trip with Dr. Sponaugle consisted of collecting tidepool fishes with hand nets at Boiler Bay. We experienced some difficulties collecting the fishes due to their unwillingness to cooperate. There wasn't much fish diversity in the areas that we collected, so in the end we headed back with buckets full of sculpin.
Issie walks between tide pools at Boiler Bay in search of Sculpins

                                                                                       Bottom Trawling Aboard the R/V Elakha
Landon, Heidi, Ashley, Rachel, Cat and Melanie aboard
the R/V Elakha
Wednesday we were given an opportunity to conduct a boat based survey from the R/V Elakha, one of OSU's small research vessels based at Hatfield.  With the assistance of Dr. Lorenzo Ciannelli we collected data on the distributions of the flatfish species Parophrys vetulus (English Sole) and Citharichthys stigmaeus (Speckled Sand Dab) within Yaquina Bay.  We were looking to see how size of the fish and density of fishes varied in relation to distance from the mouth of the bay.  This data became the basis for our report for the week.  We were unable to show if densities varied between near mouth and upstream sites due to small sample size.  However, we did detect a significant difference in size structure of English Sole flatfish between upstream and mouth sites in the estuary.  Larger fish were found further upstream while smaller ones were found more towards the mouth.  This excursion was probably one of the highlights of our time here at Hatfield so far.  The weather was beautiful and we all had an excellent time.

Field Trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium
On Thursday we had a chance to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium to gather information for our subtidal fish species report. For this report, we each chose a fish species and gathered information such as behavior, habitat, and anatomy, from observation at the aquarium.

A Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

David and Kat pulling up one of our light traps
Light and Minnow Traps
On Thursday night we deployed light and minnow traps from the dock below the pump house at Hatfield. The light traps were made to capture larval and juvenile fish, and are an original design by Dr. Sponaugle. We retrieved the traps bright and early Friday morning and found that we had captured a few juvenile salmon, sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), plankton, and an abundance of shrimp.

Throughout the week we spent many hours learning about the anatomy, ecology, habitat, and life histories of many fish that are found in the Pacific Northwest. When not in lecture or the field we were spending time in the lab learning how to identify different fish species, examining plankton, or cataloging some of the different species we had collected from the field.  

During the week we also had three guest lecturers give talks.  On Wednesday Dr. Robert Cowen (the director of Hatfield) gave us a lecture on rocky reefs and kelp forest.  We learned how the fishes in these environments will inhabit different parts of the reef/kelp forest or feed at different times of day so as to avoid competition with each other.

Thursday, Dr. Laurie Weitkamp gave us a lecture on Lampreys.  These parasitic fish are very important to Northwest Native American Culture and are currently threatened with extinction.  We learned that very little is known about the life history and ecology of these fishes but that more research is currently underway to figure out how to save this important organism.

Our last guest lecturer was Dr. Kelly Robinson who taught us about plankton on Friday.  We learned all about how currents, depth, light and nutrient levels can alter plankton distributions.  The amount of biodiversity to be found in plankton is astounding and something that people don't often realize.  From fish larvae, to diatoms, to copepods, to jelly fish, plankton is quite incredible.

Lastly, we got to take a tour of the R/V Oceanus, OSU's large research vessel, on Friday.  We were able to see the main deck, the wheel house, and the big laboratory aboard the vessel.  The Oceanus will be leaving early next week for a four month research cruise down off the shore of California so it was lucky that we were able to squeeze in a tour before it leaves.

The R/V Oceanus heading out to sea a few weeks ago
for a short cruise 

This weekend is being spent catching up on sleep, exploring the coast, and studying for our upcoming exam next Tuesday.  The weather is beautiful here this weekend and we are greatly enjoying a change in pace from our jam-packed week.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 2: Crabs and Presentations and Finals – Oh, My!By Julia Bingham and Kylee Enyart

Last Monday, we started off the week right with a good stroll down to Yaquina Bay. Our guest speaker and guide for the day, Dr. Sylvia Yamada, led the group out to collect the catch from crab traps set out the previous day. Dr. Yamada and the students recorded species, sex, and carapace size of each species of crab collected, including natives like the Red Rock Crab (Cancer productus) and the Dungeness Crab (Cancer magister), which were released back to their home. We also snagged some specimens of the invasive European Green Cab (Carcinus maeans), which were brought back to the lab.

Julia holding our prime catch of the day: an invasive Carcinus maeans specimen. (Photo credit to Issie Corvi)

Dr. Sylvia Yamada lead the group in a discussion of life history of the European Green Crab in the Pacific NW, and the impacts of invasive species. The species arrived with trading imports from Europe in San Francisco in the 1980’s. Following a series of warm-ocean and current shifting events, especially the El NiƱo event of 1997, the planktonic larvae of C. maeans made its way northward, establishing in Oregon and B.C. It’s been a pesky competitor to other crabs and a voracious predator of bivalves and disruptor of seagrass beds ever since.

Tuesday featured another guest speaker discussion with Dr. John Chapman on invasive species. This time, we learned about the invasive parasite Orthione griffinis, a blood-sucking isopod which lives tucked next to the gills of the blue mud shrimp (Upogebia pugettensis). The isopod is as widespread as the shrimp itself, from Alaska to southern California, and has wiped out most of the shrimps’ populations by effectively castrating the female shrimp it invades. Even in the relatively healthy population of Yaquina Bay, our own collection day last week found several infected U. pugettensis individuals.

That afternoon, we ventured to the Newport bay docks, collecting even MORE invertebrates. We hoped to find some Ctenophores, and Scyphozoans, but mostly just observed more smelly, mischievous sea lions instead.  We did end up finding two new species of Nudibrach, skeleton shrimp, and even some cool tunicates and bryozoans!
Side Note: Beware the dog poop

A near perfect specimen of Pisaster brevispinus, spotted on the docks.

On Wednesday, we held the 10th Annual Group Extravaganza! Students chose their favorite invertebrate and wrote a paper about it as a part of the course. Wednesday’s event was for us to take what we learned from those reports and present our favorite creature to the class. Sharing fun facts lasted four hours, but cheesecake and comedy came along with some really entertaining and interactive presentations, so it went by in a flash.

David had a great chat with Red, the tube worm vibrant in both in color and character. Max told the heart-wrenching love story between the ocean queen and Chris (short for Crustacean - it's a family name), a tale to explain the creation of the beautiful floating blue hydra Velella velella. Julia presented on the gooseneck barnacle (Pollicipes polymerus), with a carapace for a hat.

On Thursday, the theme switched from learning to ingraining information. It was time to study our marine invertebrate friends. With much anticipation, the whole day was spent preparing for our final. This consisted of the invertebrates’ Latin names, Phylum and Genus, and Phylum-specific information, including body symmetry, body plan, tissue layers, sensory and feeding structures, along with many other important aspects. The students also completed their notebooks to turn in. Everyone had to create ten pages of drawings and descriptions of some of the species we have found during our field work. Here are some of David's as examples of what we were all working on:

On Friday, the sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated BI 450 group took their first much awaited exam and lab practicum. It actually went great, and the day ended with some bitter-sweet goodbyes and “until next times” with Dr. Hacker and Vanessa.

Many students spent the weekend relaxing at home to recover from the intensity of the previous couple of days. Those who stayed at Hatfield spent Saturday volunteering at Hatfield’s Marine Science Day. It was SO incredibly fun! The whole research center, along with NOAA, Oregon Fish and Wildlife, and a few other organizations opened up countless exhibits throughout the whole center and invited the public to come and learn. The campus filled with curious community members and enthusiastic children. BI 450 students opened up our lab to share our marine invertebrate specimens and new knowledge  to visitors.

The day ended with a beautiful walk on the beach, ready and waiting for the beginning of our next section of classes, starting Monday: it’s time to learn about fish!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cascade Head

On Friday, April 3, 2015, the students of Bi450 braved the rain for a wet but beautiful hike up to Cascade Head. North of Lincoln City, Cascade Head Preserve is home to a diversity of flora and fauna including the rare Oregon Silverspot butterfly and its host flower, the early blue violet.

While the majority of our hike was through wooded forest, the trails peak opened up to exposed panoramic meadows and views of the Salmon River estuary, the Oregon coast, and vast expanses of deep blue ocean.

Here is a photo of this year’s class at the top!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring 2015 - First Week at Hatfield

Week 1: Welcome and Marine Invertebrates 
Saturday April 4, 2015
By Kaitlin Lebon and Issie Corvi 

Last weekend, after much anticipation, the new set of BI 450 students settled into their new homes.  Our first day consisted of a Hatfield crash course, including tours, orientations, and our first official lecture.  With the basics under our belts, we waited eagerly for our field and lab work to begin. 

Boiler Bay
Vanessa, Ari, and David identifying invertebrates at Boiler Bay
                  Despite the tides not being completely in our favor, we were able to venture out into the intertidal zones of Boiler Bay to explore its populations of invertebrates.  The class eagerly delved into the task of collecting specimens to bring back to our lab for further investigation and identification.  A class favorite was a large red chiton, Cryptochiton stelleri, fondly known as the wandering meatloaf because of its size and mottled color. Other species that were found included the purple sea urchin (Stronglyocentrotus purpuratus), the aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima), and the kelp crab (Pugettia producta). 
Kat looking for Sipunculids in the roots of seagrass at Boiler Bay  

Kaitlin recording her findings at Boiler Bay
Later that evening we gathered in the dining hall to discuss Oregon geology and to become more acquainted with one another.  We also we treated to pie courtesy of our instructor, Sally Hacker. 

Tokatee Klootchman
A purple Pisaster ochraceus at Tokatee Klootchman 
                  Our second field excursion took us out to Tokatee Klootchman, a site just south of Cape Perpetua.  We continued our task of collecting various intertidal invertebrates.  This site was a favorite for many in the class.  As with past BI 450 classes, we quickly discovered and fell in love with the various species of colorful nudibranchs.  We were also pleased to find that there was a significant population of healthy looking sea stars—encouraging news in wake of the sea star wasting sickness that has been prevalent along the Oregon Coast.
In lecture we learned about sponges, anemones, corals, and jellies. 
The population density at Tokatee Klootchman was incredible - countless Mytilus californianus (mussles), Balanus glandula (acorn barnacle), and Pollicipes polymerus (gooseneck barnacle) (among others) occupied the intertidal. 

Mud Flats of Yaquina Bay
                  Thursday morning we ventured our early in the morning to the local mudflats.  With some last minute words of advice from our instructor Sally Hacker, we were knee deep in mud before we knew it.  Some of us were able to navigate the sticky depths of mud better than others, but in the end we were all able to discover various shrimps and worms to bring back with us. 
Later in lecture we were told about the various types of worms, many of which we had collected that day.
The class after collecting on the Yaquina Bay mud flats. 

Cascade Head

                  By Friday, our good fortune with the weather had ran out.  Our hike up to Cascade Head to view coastal headlands and estuaries was a wet one.  The trail on the way up was very slick and muddy.  Upon arriving at the top of the trail, we quickly took a group photo, and clambered back down to the vans to escape the adverse weather.  Although it would have been better to have had more favorable weather, it was still an enjoyable hike.