Monday morning’s 6:00am wake up call came early as we ventured to Boiler Bay to explore more marine algae, observe wave exposure and elevation gradients in the intertidal, and collect specimens for our group projects. Most of the field trip was spent walking around with Annette who pointed out common taxa of algae and patterns to take note of.
Back at Hatfield we had a couple lectures on brown and red algae and continued our species IDs with dichotomous keys in the lab. In the evening after lab, student groups met with Annette to discuss group field studies to be conducted the next day. We were asked to design an observational study on one of the assigned phyla/groups of algae: green algae, brown algae (not including kelps), coarsely branched reds, branched red blades, non-branched red blades, and filamentous/finely branched reds.
After group ‘tank talks’, we had a lovely guest speaker, Allie Barner, inform us more about the life history and reproduction of sea palm kelp.
Tuesday morning we put our plans into action at Boiler Bay working in independent groups studying algae species such as Cladophora columbiana for the green group and Phaeostrophion irregulare for the browns. Some groups set up transects, worked with quadrats, and some studied tide pools. A lecture on Rhodophyta and species IDs in the lab followed our field trip on Tuesday. We ended the day with an excellent guest lecture from Chris Langdon who let us taste dulse!
Wednesday was dedicated finishing the ten species ID sheets and preparation for our team presentations in the lab Wednesday evening. The presentations included results from the field studies, specimens of 5 common species of each team’s phyla/group of algaes, pressed specimens, and species cards for that were intended to teach other students ways to identify the species based on characteristics visible in the field and/or in the lab. One person from each group remained at their team station while other group members, Annette and Miram cycled around the lab appreciating the demos.
After the long night in the lab during group presentations, the students returned in the morning to the classroom for one final lecture on the ecological importance of marine algae. After the lecture, they went back to the lab to set up the stations again for another review session. They walked around from group to group asking additional questions and jotting down information they felt would be important for the upcoming exam. The students spent most of the morning on their own, reviewing lecture material and studying the algae species in the lab. The afternoon consisted of a group review session and then the rest of the day was independent study time. Little sleep was had that night as the students stayed up trying to memorize the names of all the important algae species and the other important information such as ecology and life history. Friday began with high stress levels and low energy. The students took their lecture exam in the morning, had a lunch break to cram final bits of information into their brains and then completed a lab practicum in the afternoon. The air was filled with relief as the students finished the algae section and welcomed a long 3-day weekend! Thanks to Annette and Miram for teaching us about the wonderfully diverse marine algae on the North Pacific coast!