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.

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