Saturday, June 10, 2017

Week 10: Presentations and Goodbyes

For the last two weeks, we have been conducting personal research projects - investigating our own research questions and testing our own hypotheses. This week, most students were focused on finishing their research papers and preparing for the public presentations on Friday. Above the frantic keyboard tapping and heads-banging against desks, the air hangs heavy with a mixture of emotions. Summer is just around the corner and with that comes all the joys of sunshine and summer vacation. But our course is also coming to an end and our days at the Hatfield Marine Science Center are limited. This is was truly a unique and invaluable experience for all of us.

Looking back, we learned lots of thing throughout this course. Not only the marine biology stuffs but …….
We agreed that First, crafty people belong in this field!
When you try to deal with feeding or larvae there's always mini inventions that can save you from expensive equipment.

Second: Intertidal walking is a thing for marine biologist. You’ll be amazed how Bruce Menge can out walk you on the intertidals. Oh, and not to mention how hard it is to walk on mud. Mudflat walking

Third, sleep deprivation will make a robots out of you. Robots that particularly good at calculating percent covers. And by that point our brains have “Eat. Sleep. Tidepool. Repeat” on repeat. Except for Wednesdays, we add donuts after tidepools.

Fourth, tidepool organisms isn’t the most cooperative animals you use in an experiment. Some would rather starve to death than move, some were just born escape artists.

Fifth: Spending everyday, stuck in Newport Hatfield Marine Science Center, and being in classes with the same people for the whole term, creates an inseparable bond between people. We arrived as strangers and acquaintances, we are leaving as friends.

Presentations were a huge success. Topics ranged from the feeding behaviors of crab,urchins, limpets, and sea stars to the effectiveness of zinc in crab pots.
 Sean goes over the results of his experiment comparing feeding efficiency between green crab, red rock crab, and dungeness crab.
Melissa explaining the difference between specialist and generalist predator
For many of us, our experiments did not go as planned. We were constantly dealing with design problems and our test subjects never doing what they were supposed to. But as Sarah noted in her remarks, this is a part of real science. It’s not all about discovery and generating statistically significant results. Science is complex and sometimes messy. It doesn’t always behave in the way you want it to. But we as scientists learn to deal with these problems and move forward despite the obstacles. Every bit of knowledge, even the 1000 ways how not to do something, contributes to our overall understanding of the world we live in. And this is the gift that the Bi 450 program gives us. Because this is not a lesson we could ever learn in a classroom.

Many of us will be graduating in the next year or so and with that comes the promise of the “real world”. Also a lot of uncertainty. This class taught us not only skills, but it gave us just a tiny taste of that “real world”. It’s hard to say what the future holds - some of us may leave the scientific field and pursue other dreams - but I think our individual futures became just little bit clearer after this class. We may not know where we are going, but we can take our steps with confidence and we can take them together.

Thank you, everyone, for the best term and lifelong memories.

Special thanks to our absolutely amazing instructors and TA's for this course: Sally Hacker, Allison Barner, Sarah Henkel, Bruce, Menge, Su Sponaugle, Miram Gleiber, Caitlin Magel, and Jenna Sullivan 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week 9: Individual Research

Week 9 marked the beginning of our individual research projects. The long weekend served us well as optimal low tides allowed for ample time of marine sampling in the intertidal. With lectures and exams finished, individuals and groups visited Boiler Bay, Tokatee Klootchman, Yachats Beach, and many other coastal sites to begin answering their research questions. Some projects include topics like gastropod abundance on varying algal species, factors influencing crab claw strength, density of Katharina around Saccharina beds, and the effect of parasitism on Upogebia pugettensis; a type of mud shrimp. The two week effort is to be concluded by the construction of a research paper and presentation open to the public. Symposiums will be held June 9th at the Hatfield Visitor Center.

Alanna and Sonora spend their morning moving 90 lb crab pots for their experiment at Tokatee Klootchman. All smiles :)

Haley and Tyler's urchin feeding experiment involving inclusion and exclusion of Pisaster.
The quick segue into the middle of the week dampened the responsibilities of field work and demanded attentive lab time. As if overnight, the lab was transformed from its dull, empty state to a factory of engineered curiosity. Previously bare bins now held an abundance of creatures of the intertidal, from sculpins to sea stars. Many of us carefully ran through trials of experimentation and intrigue. With minimal casualties, experiments started to fall into place.

Kate and David patiently observe feeding preferences of Pisaster in their handcrafted Y-maze. Troublesome sea stars were aptly nicknamed "Steve".
Sierra looks into shelter material preferences of tidepool sculpins.
In an interesting turn of events, the first octopus of the course was found! It is hypothesized that this is a young Enteroctopus dofleini. Sonora and Alanna found the little guy in a tide pool at Manipulation Bay.

A momentary greeting occurs.
Octopus are very smart and strong creatures. They can fit through almost any crevasse large enough for their beak. Interestingly, the arms of the octopus contain two thirds of their neurons. This makes the arms somewhat autonomous - they literally have a mind of their own! Disc-like suckers lining the arms can taste and smell anything they touch, allowing them octopus to sense nearby prey. When this juvenile octopus grows up, it can have up to 280 suckers per arm. That's like having 2240 mouth-noses. Best of luck to you, small friend!

A baby seal hangs out in the high zone of Fogarty Creek.

By the time Thursday had arrived, most groups were finishing their data collection. With the help and guidance of some awesome TAs, students began running (and troubleshooting) statistical analyses on software programs such as RStudio and Microsoft Excel. For some of the students, this was their first time working with statistical softwares such as R, but individuals quickly became accustomed. Many cups of coffee and tea were consumed in this phase of the research.

Chris outwits RStudio to form an ANOVA table.

A feast of freshly caught crab to end the week! 
In attempt to unwind after many hours spent on research, we closed out the week by spending an afternoon cooking crab! Students who spent the better part of the week catching crab wrangled their test subjects into pots and even grabbed enough crab for the whole class to enjoy. Specimens that weren't consumed were safely returned to the intertidal. Who knew science could be so delicious!

Friday also brought a bout of sunshine, which had many students basking in the sun all afternoon. It was truly a wonderful way to ring in the weekend.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 8: Policy and Independent Projects

Enjoying the sun and spectacular view on Cape Perpetua while on the lookout for whales.
We started off the week with a beautiful hike at Cape Perpetua. Paul Englemeyer led us up to the top of Cape Perpetua and talked about Oregon’s marine reserves and conservation policies. His work involves rehabilitation of old growth forests for birds and stream restoration for salmon and other fish. We took a moment to whale watch from our high vantage point, but had no luck. However, a few sea lions were spotted playing in the water! We then walked along the Ten-Mile Creek trail, stopping from time to time to enjoy the scenery and talk about efforts to restore and protect the plants and animals in the area. We ate lunch along the creek and some students practiced their rock skipping skills while others waded into the water to cool off.
Hiking through the old growth forest at Ten-Mile Creek
Dr. Sarah Henkel and Paul Englemeyer showing us a map of northwest rivers and the health of the watersheds. Most of them (in red) have poor water quality.
Redfish Rocks, one of the first marine reserves in Oregon.
Oregon marine reserves are managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. These sites are dedicated to research and conservation, prohibiting all removal of species. The protected areas range from 3 sq km to 36.5 sq km. The first marine reserves became protected in early 2012 with the newest addition at Cape Falcon, in 2016, for a total of five along our coast. Each reserve has different attractions, from hiking trails, to sea lion caves and lighthouses. Despite their differences they all give  unique views of our beautiful coastline.

On Tuesday we went down to the docks to meet up with Laura Anderson, the owner of Local Ocean Seafoods. She took us to the docks where we talked to some fishermen about their work. They told us about the various regulations placed on the fish they were catching and showed us what types of gear they used to catch different types of fish. Afterwards we filed into Local Ocean to enjoy a delicious lunch! Once back at Hatfield we had lectures on tools used to aid fisheries management and  science policy. Thanks to the great weather we were able to sit out on the grass for a discussion on science, policy, and ethics. During the discussion we talked about ways to communicate science to the public, career ideas in the field of marine biology, and the difficulties of writing research papers.
Food is life.

Wednesday was our final day of class. We had lectures about aquaculture and wave energy in the morning and gave group presentations in the afternoon. These were different than our normal presentations because we had to pick a non-science audience (i.e. state lawmakers) and provide non-partial information about a current issue to guide their decisions. It was more challenging than we expected to provide options without “telling them what they should want to do.” Regardless, communicating science to non-scientists is important and we need to learn how to do it effectively.  We also wrote practice op-ed articles about our presentation topic. It was a long day, but none of us could believe that eight weeks have flown by and we only have two left!
Dana and Melissa presenting about plastic pollution in the ocean.
Thursday we decided on our final research project ideas and discussed them with the teachers and TA’s. They helped us hammer out kinks in our methods or steered us in the right direction if we weren’t sure what question to explore. After the meetings we started writing our proposals, which were due at 5:00 pm, leaving us only a few hours to finish! Several of us got up early to collect organisms for our projects, taking advantage of some of the lowest tides of the entire year. The tidepooling was excellent!
Science has begun!
Friday kicked off the start of our final research projects! Many groups took advantage of the low tide and were out in the field by 6:00 am conducting surveys or collecting organisms. The sunshine was worth the early start!

By: Katie, Miranda, and Melissa

Monday, May 22, 2017

Community Ecology and Conservation Week 7

Image result for urchin barrens
Photo of an urchin barren from The Echinoblog
On Monday we had lectures on Structure and Dynamics: Communities to Meta-Ecosystems and Diversity and Stability. We learned that mesoscale and macroscale variations have complex effects on higher trophic levels. That complex interactions between biogeography and species of the coastal communities have various effects on the structure of the communities. Such as the interactions between otters, sea urchins, and kelp. When there are no otters to prey on the urchins, their population expands, as their population expands they start to eat the living kelp and leaving a barren benthic environment. Without the kelp to slow down waves and provide habitat for many species the diversity of the ecosystem decreases and the waves will change the dynamics of the intertidal area.
Later that day we had a guest lecture from Zach Randell. He talked about the role of kelp forests and his experiences doing scientific research within them.
An example presentation
Tuesday was a day for independent study and preparation for our presentations on our group research questions based off the data we collected in the field during week 6. We gave theses presentations Wednesday afternoon on topics such as Sea Star Wasting Disease, average size of Pisaster along the Oregon coast, and whelk diets. Wednesday night we had a group study session in the library in one of the conference rooms where we all went over graphs from the lectures and interpreted them.
Thursday was exam day for our Community Ecology Section, and then free time afterwards to enjoy the nice weather. We got most of the class out on the basketball court playing Bump, a game where you try to score a basket before the person behind you in line. It was a great way to de-stress after the test and bond as a class.
Friday was the first day of our Conservation and Policy course. In the first lecture we learned about the state of our oceans where we learned about how the oceans are not doing as well currently as they were in the past due to a variety of human activities such as overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Our second lecture was on climate change and its impacts on the ocean. The third lecture of the day was about how marine reserves and marine protected areas were designed and chosen. In the fourth lecture we then talked about how marine reserves were designed and implemented in the state of Oregon. We discussed the different stakeholders and what demands they had upon the placement of the marine reserves. They needed to be placed somewhere that would protect enough habitat to keep species richness high and to boost the productivity of the fisheries in the surrounding area. We ended the day with a brief lecture on sea birds in preparation for our field trip on Monday morning.

By David Fletcher and Nick Patrick

Monday, May 15, 2017

Community Ecology! Week 6

On Monday we kicked off our community ecology section with Bruce Menge and Jenna Sullivan. We started with an introduction lecture that outlined the schedule and expectations for the class. We then took a short field trip out to the intertidal zone of Yaquina bay, so we could practice the proper procedures for performing a transect-quadrat survey. After lunch we had another lecture by Bruce that gave introductory information about sea star wasting disease that Jenna finished during our evening lecture by covering the effects of the sea star wasting disease on the intertidal community. When Jenna first started her PhD she had wanted to study the life of star stars but the sea star wasting disease changed all her plans causing a major change in the environment by decimating the Pisaster population and changing the intertidal community as Pisaster’s are keystone species. They control mussel populations by predation keeping the mussel population out of the lower intertidal areas. Jenna is now studying the effect that adult Pisasters have on new recruit Pisasters.

Students examining a adult Pisaster Ochraceus.
Tuesday marked our first early day of the week, we met in the lab at 5:15 am, meaning if we weren’t out of bed and ready for fieldwork, by 5:30 am, we were going to be left behind. The group was split in two, one group went to Forgery Creek while the others went to Manipulation bay, both sites were near Boiler Bay. Most groups worked on belt transect lines to record arm lengths of all the sea stars along a ten meter transect with a two meter width. While they did this, one group worked on recording the state and arm length of different sea stars in the area. Even though the day turned out to be beautiful and sunny, the tide was on it’s way in shortly after we started. This lead us to not being able to do as many surveys as we would have liked, but we were able to get back to Hatfield early and play volleyball, nap, and have lunch. After we were all refreshed, we had a lecture on biotic interactions and the effects they have on the communities.

Wednesday marked another day of beautiful weather in the field with the class going to Yachats bay and another going to Tokatee Klootchman. Again groups worked on belt transects while a single group recorded different sea stars around the locations recording over 3,000 sea stars for the day! After a nice lunch break we had a lecture on environmental modification of biotic effects, which discussed the effect of different stressors on the creatures in the intertidal zone and had an early night for our third early morning.

Students performing transect-quadrat surveys.
Thursday we went to Boiler Bay and hiked down the rocky path to the tidepools in the typical Oregon rain. In the continued rain, we all grouped up and most of us did transect-quadrat surveys where we used a half meter square to observe the various algae and invertebrates. The few teams that were not doing the transect-quadrat surveys were collecting data about whelk diets. Whelks feed on mussels and barnacles. To survey them we measured their shell length (which indicated age) and determined whether they were feeding or not. This is important to understanding the life cycle of these snails. After the fieldwork, we entered the data and went to a lecture on complex interactions and community structure. This went through the prey-predator interactions that occur between marine animals and what affect them have on their surrounding ecosystem. To complete the day we went to a special lecture by Alissa Rickborn. She presented about the response of ocean acidification on Halichondria panicea, a common sea sponge on the west coast. She showed us her “homemade” aquarium set up where she can manipulate the seawater that fills the tank. In this tank she has constructed petri-dishes with a mesh top out of supplies anyone could get at Home Depot. She examined these petri-dishes every 5 hours until sadly, her aquarium contraption broke. She has fixed it and will be performing the same experiment, with a few tweaks, over summer 2018. After her presentation and demonstration we all went home to rest for our last 4:30 am wake-up-call.

A rainbow in between hail/rain and sunshine! 
Finally, Friday. After waking up at 4:30 am for the last time this week, we all gathered and left for Strawberry Hill at 5:30 am, arriving around 6:30 am. Here we went about performing the same tests we did on Thursday; we laid out ten transects and examined ten quadrats on each transect. During these examinations we were pounded with rain, sunshine, and hail in a conflicting pattern that left us cold and ready for lunch. After the lunch (and a nap!) we got back together for a lecture on barnacle larval transport. Barnacles are important factors to the rocky intertidal because despite living on top of the mussels and having seemingly no effect on anything around them, they provide another foothold in the elaborate web that makes up tidepools.

Overall, it was a fantastic week in the field. We all learned a great deal and had a lot of fun playing in the sunshine as well as stomping in puddles when it was rainy. We look forward to another great week at Hatfield in the 2017 BI 450 class.

by Heather Davis and Katelyn Stanley

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 5

Measuring algae in a quadrat along a
  transect line.
            We jumped right back into algae with the beginning of week five, starting with a trip to Boiler Bay to complete our field studies. Despite the early morning and a cloudy sky with a few sprinkles, everyone was ready to go and gather the data needed for their projects. Once arriving at Boiler Bay, we all split into groups and scattered, taking advantage of the negative tide height to reach the lowest intertidal areas. After a few hours of collecting data, we collected people, getting everyone to the same spot so Allie could review algae identification with us.
A group discussing their field study.
            Back in the lab, we had a review of the ochrophytes, brown algae, and then completed our second lab assignment, keying out a brown alga to identify it. The afternoon consisted of a lecture on algal physiology and global change, followed by meetings with Allie or Miram for each team to discuss their data and how to analyze them. At the end of the day we retrieved our algae pressings from last week. We were excited about the results!
One of our finished algae pressings.
We started Tuesday morning with a lecture on Phylum Rhodophyta, the red algaes, followed by a lab demonstration identifying the many species we had in the lab. Using our newly gained knowledge of red algae, we completed four lab assignments, each identifying a different species. Following lunch, Miram gave a lecture about scientific writing, part tips and tricks and part reviewing our trawl reports from the fish section. The early afternoon was spent completing lab assignments and working on team projects. Our second lecture of the day, on algal communities. We rounded out the afternoon with a mini-review of brown algae and some lab clean up.
Wednesday morning saw our last two algae lectures, first marine angiosperms, land plants that have completely adapted to life in the water. Next up was algae and the food system, focusing on kelp. The importance of kelp forests has been discussed throughout the section, as they provide important ecosystem services including providing shelter for juvenile fish, and habitat and nutrients for many organisms. Because kelp is so cool and important, we wanted to share some of the ways humans use kelp. According to NOAA, we collect between 100,000 and 170,000 wet tons of kelp each year from California alone1. That’s a lot of kelp! We use kelp in products ranging from toothpaste and shampoo to various food products. Kelp pudding, anyone?
Porphyra sp. belongs to the phylum
                Rhodophyta and is used to make nori.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hatfield Wednesday without some coffee and (non-kelp) donuts to complete our morning. After donuts, it was back to class, where Miram talked to us about graduate school. Next up was a mini-review of the red algae. The teams also had another opportunity to meet with Allie and Miram to determine how best to analyze field study data. Our afternoon was spent in a combination of wrapping up team projects and enjoying the sun.
That evening, we reconvened in the lab for team demonstrations. The event kicked off with several snacks made with algae, as well as some non-algae cookies. Then we rotated around the room, learning from other teams as well as sharing our algae knowledge and the results of our field studies.
            Thursday was spent reviewing for the final. We began the morning with a review of the lectures, followed up with a review of all the species we had in lab. The rest of the day was independent study. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the sun during our study breaks, as the fog remained the entire day and a thunderstorm rolled through.
            Friday brought the close of the algae section. We spent the morning studying, then ventured over to the classroom to take our final (the third one of the term!). A break between finals was profitably used to watch Mulan. The plan was to finish the movie before the lab practical, but since time flies when you’re having fun, we had to head back to the lab before the end of the movie. After completing the lab practical, we completed the quickest (and most water spilled) clean up yet. Then we were free for the weekend!
This end of this week marked the term’s halfway point. Time is flying by and somehow we’re now five weeks down, five to go.

1 NOAA. 2014. How do people use kelp? online. National Ocean Service: NOAA. Viewed 8 May 2017.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week 4
Monday: The week began with finishing our trawl reports and turning them in by 9:00. After that we had our final lectures and discussion for the fishes section. At 13:30 study time began and between working on lab notebooks and studying for the section final exam everyone was busily scurrying between the library and the lab.
Tuesday: In the morning there was some time for us to study before sitting down for the exam at 13:00. The general feeling in the room at 12:50 was that we were pretty well prepared yet chronically sleep-deprived. The test went well and afterward students headed to the lab for finishing touches on their lab notebooks due at 18:00
Wednesday: It was time to begin the section on marine macroalgae—after taking the morning off to catch some extra Zs, of course.  We met Allie Barner, the instructor for the section, who enthusiastically introduced us to the different phyla of marine macroalgae and presented their unique evolutionary history and plastid origins. The three phyla of algae evolved from three distinct endosymbiosis events.  The first (primary) endosymbiosis event produced the common ancestor to all eukaryotes.  The second of these events (a second primary endosymbiosis) caused this common ancestor to diverge producing the clade which contains chlorophytes (green algae), rhodophytes (red algae), and land plants. Finally, there was a secondary endosymbiosis event in which a eukaryotic cell engulfed a red algae cell forming the ochrophytes (brown algae).
After that we split into different teams, each tasked with a different set of algae, and prepared for going on a field trip the next morning.
Thursday: Most everyone seemed quite tired as we met up in the lab at 6:00 am to leave on our field trip.  We went to Boiler Bay where each team was tasked with finding a key species of algae and recording is distribution, as well as collecting samples. Upon returning to HMSC, we had a break for elevensies followed by an ID lab and some lectures.  In the lab we were introduced to both micro and macroscopic characteristics used to identify algae using a dichotomous key.  One of these lectures focused on the different life histories found in algae.  
 Identifying the red algae growing on a wall in Boiler Bay's protected intertidal zone.

There are three distinct life history strategies that are observed in algae.  Haplontic life cycles consist of a macroscopic haploid gametophyte, whereas diplontic life cycles consist of a macroscopic diploid sporophyte.  The gametophyte produces haploid gametes, and the sporophyte produces haploid spores.  Haplodiplontic life cycles alternate generations between a haploid gametophytes and diploid sporophytes.  Haploid stages are characterized by having a single copy of each chromosome, and diploid stages are characterized by having two copies of each chromosome.
After our lab and lectures, we learned to press algae for artistic purposes and to preserve specimens.

Friday: Once again we had to get up early in lab by 6:15.  From there we went to Tokatee Klootchman where we collected and took notes on at least two more species of algae in our group.  On this field trip we were shown examples of many of the important algae found in the intertidal.  The rest of the day consisted of one lecture followed by team meetings to design a field study.  These field studies will be conducted on Monday May 1st.

The three phyla of algae evolved from three distinct endosymbiosis events.  The first (primary) endosymbiosis event produced the common ancestor to all eukaryotes.  The second of these events (a second primary endosymbiosis) caused this common ancestor to diverge producing the clade which contains chlorophytes (green algae), rhodophytes (red algae), and land plants. Finally, there was a secondary endosymbiosis event in which a eukaryotic cell engulfed a red algae cell forming the ochrophytes (brown algae).

The finely branched rhodophyte Ptilota, found by a student at Boiler Bay.

Feather boa kelp (Egregia menziesii), an ochrophyte, found at Boiler Bay.

There are three distinct life history strategies that are observed in algae.  Haplontic life cycles consist of a macroscopic haploid gametophyte, whereas diplontic life cycles consist of a macroscopic diploid sporophyte.  The gametophyte produces haploid gametes, and the sporophyte produces haploid spores.  Haplodiplontic life cycles alternate generations between a haploid gametophytes and diploid sporophytes.  Haploid stages are characterized by having a single copy of each chromosome, and diploid stages are characterized by having two copies of each chromosome.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


After a brief break in both classes and coursework, a new week brings a new professor, a new TA, and a new subject: FISH!
Group photo from day one at Tokatee Klootchman
We dipped our toes into the new subject right away, spending the morning sloshing through the tide pools at Tokatee Klootchman in search of intertidal fish. In our rainiest field trip yet, we scooped up sculpin and gathered gunnels, bringing the best specimens back to the lab. After a brief lecture on general anatomy, we tried our best to apply what we learned, attempting to identify a number of fish specimens.
Paige and Nick wading through the water to do a beach seine.
Everybody loves a beach day! We spent the afternoon at an estuary beach, while a select few braved the water to drag seine nets and capture fish. We sorted, counted, measured, and identified a number of species, including pipefish, flatfish, and juvenile salmon. Our biggest catch of the week, with a TL of approximately 22cm, was Leptocottus armatus, the Pacific Staghorn Sculpin. This little excursion was followed by lecture on reproduction and life history, allowing us to better understand the journey of the young fish we had just caught.
As everyone was beginning to tire, we fought the mid-week blues with break in the morning for coffee and donuts. This was followed by a guest lecture from Dr. Bob Cowen about kelp forests and rocky reef habitats. We managed to experience a number of other habitats while escaping the stormy weather with an afternoon adventure to the AQUARIUM. Naturally, everyone gravitated to the open ocean exhibit, where sharks and rays take center stage.
Enclosed in the Aquarium’s longest tunnel, the class relaxed into a state of admiration and awe at the wonders of the deep. Sketching and photography ensued, along with identification of species and discussion of anatomical differences. The “Open Sea” exhibit houses 5 species of shark, schools of mackerel and anchovies, and bat rays. The largest shark species on display was the Broadnose Sevengill shark, Notorhynchus cepedianus. This shark is common along the Oregon Coast and can be identified by its unusual number of seven gills. Because of their gill number, they are thought to be related to ancient sharks, as fossils from the Jurassic period also boast seven gills. This oddity gives them the Guinness Book of World Records title for most gills!
Elakha cruise group two posing as their favorite fish: the English sole!
Thursday was the most highly anticipated day of the week: we got to spend the morning out on the Elakha, beam trawling and sorting fish for our research project. The early morning crew fought rain and sleepy eyes, but managed to have a blast. The afternoon crew was a bit luckier with the weather, and had just as much fun measuring and identifying fish. After a much needed lunch break, the afternoon took a slower pace, with a lecture on swimming and schooling followed by analysis of the trawl data. A small group of students then assisted Su and Miram in deploying light traps off the Pump House dock.

The final day of the week was all about the class room! We had the pleasure of two guest lectures, from Dr. Wayne Hoffman and Dr. Christian BreseƱo-Avena, about herring and plankton, respectively. Our lecture on plankton was immediately followed by a plankton identification lab. We used microscopes to identify species and count plankton, determining that in one light trap we had collected over 125,000 planktonic organisms!

This week was packed full of lectures, field adventures, and fish! The week went swimmingly, but there is still a lot more schooling to do before we finish up the section on fishes.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Finishing up Inverts!

Weekly Update:

Monday was one of our earliest days yet! We met up with Dr. Sylvia Yamada who taught us about the invasion of the Green Crab, Carcinus maenas. We've been pretty lucky with the weather so far. Our dry morning consisted of pulling crab traps at 2 different sites around HMSC. These pots were set by Sylvia, Caitlin, and Kass early the morning before.  We had quite a few, not only Carcinus Maenas, but also Hemigraspus oregonensis and Hemigraspus nudus. We even caught a sculpin in one of the minnow traps!

This was our longest day of lectures, with Sylvia's lecture, Sally's lecture on her favorite Phylum Tardigrada and then another guest lecture from John Chapman on the invasion of the isopod, Orthione griffenis. Throughout the week we were continuously working on finishing up our 10 notebook drawings of invertebrates we had in the lab, and studying for the final and lab practicum on Friday.

Tuesday was a wonderful stress free study break to our busy week of preparing for the final. We took a lovely excursion up Cascade Head, to view some coastal headlands we've been learning about.

Lava flows from Northeast Oregon have supplied our coast with many basalt headlands. Activity from plate tectonics, specially the subduction zone off our coast, has caused these headlands to rise from the sediment below. It is crazy to think about such so many forces acting together for millions of years to create these beautiful landscapes we now get to enjoy.

The weather was on our side, no rain and barely any wind! Although we won't go as far as saying it was sunny. The rest of the afternoon was "free" for more drawing and studying.

We had our last invertebrate lectures on Wednesday, then a long break to prepare for our Favorite Invert Presentations! (Not to mention dessert extravaganza!) It was a long but fun night of enthusiastic presentations. We learned the 'true facts'  of a diverse range of inverts, from Deep Sea Tube Worms (from a tube worm herself), to Peacock Mantis Shrimp, to the Giant Pacific Octopus. Many laughs and many desserts, it was quite a fun way to have presentations!

Thursday was a day to prepare for the exam. Without having classes it (almost) felt like a weekend, except for the part about studying all day and night. We spent some time in the lab, practicing our identification and latin names. The weather was on and off rainy, pretty perfect for being curled up inside studying but with enough sunny breaks to go on walks and de-stress.

The next day was game day. Not having class in the morning made it feel like a weekend yet again, although there was that one big thing hanging over our heads. It seemed as if everyone was studying right up until the last minute. Once we finished both the exam and the lab practical, it was clean up time. Animals were either returned to Boiler Bay or consolidated into one tank. Tanks were emptied and cleaned in preparation for fish collection next week! As the sun came out everyone departed their separate ways, some returning to Corvallis, some going camping in Florence and some relaxing at home. It was a bitter sweet ending, happy to be done with the exam, but sad that we loose Sally and Caitlin. Onto marine fishes we go!