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!

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