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.

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