Sunday, April 15, 2018

Week 2: Crunch Time

Monday 9 April 2018
We kicked off invert's finals week by having a really neat guess lecture, Sylvia Yamada, come by and present about Carcinus maenas or the European Green Crab. As we learned from her, this species is invasive and came to our coasts by means of transporting shellfish from Europe to the Americas. They love to eat soft-shelled clams and have declined its population dramatically on the east coast. It is also heavily destroying many of the eel grass beds by snipping at the beds looking for food. This effectively made the surrounding habitat a barren and non-productive ecosystem. When these crabs came to our coasts, many researchers began to study why they would be so successful and how their populations move up from Oregon/Washington into British Columbia. Their success is attributed to El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation patterns: warm weather, strong currents, and down-welling. They've been found to easily move from coast to coast in the British Columbia by means of ocean currents. Because of the 2015 El Nino event, the 2015 year class and the subsequent year classes, will persist and produce larvae until 2023. However, with La Nina's and POD's pattern, this 2018 year class will have a smaller population.

After the lecture, we went to collect these crabs off of the mudflats surrounding Hatfield. We caught 30-40 C. maenas and collected a few other crab species including Cancer magister, Cancer productus, and Hemigrapsus oregonensis. We then collected data on C. maenas and peacefully froze them to their deaths (for science and for the environment!).
A few C. maenas (2018) caught by the mudflats surrounding Hatfield

Tuesday 10 April 2018

After some lectures on Tuesday, we went to the Newport docks in the rainy spring weather to hopefully collect some cnidarians or ctenophores. We came up seemingly empty for the most part, save a dead pyrosome and a hydrozoan. But, we gave them a look under the microscope and the view was still pretty impressive. On what seems to be some seaweed are some goofy looking skeleton shrimp (Caprella alaskana ‘18) bowing to own another. And what they were using their sharp claws to cling on to, what we thought was seaweed, was actually a type of cnidarian called a hydrozoan, which is related to a jelly fish.  

                             One of the many C. alaskana (2018) found clinging to a hyrdrozoan at the docks as seen from under a dissecting microscope.

Wednesday 11 April 2018
Wednesday morning started with learning about Phylum Echinodermata, all the urchins, sea stars, and sea cucumbers. It was also our first Donut Wednesday! We had 30 minutes to go and introduce ourselves to the top scientists and staff at Hatfield and get to know who's all here. Once we got there, we went straight for the food and kind of awkwardly stood around waiting for an encounter... I personally stood around with a few others sipping my coffee till (thankfully) Itchung came and had a chat with us. Then he graciously introduced us to Rick Brown the programs manager at NOAA!!! This was suuuper awesome; we had chatted away until our TA, Rebecca, had to come and tug us away back to lectures... :( 

After our final inverts lecture on Phylum Chordata, we all buckled down on getting our notebooks finished, studied for our exams, and getting ready for the 13th Annual Marine Invertebrate Presentation and Dessert Extravaganza. My group including Caroline and Beth decided to do our favorite invertebrate on a local ctenophore: Pleurobrachia bachei. To represent our favorite jellies we had our classmates make their own ctenophores using jello! Not only did we get donuts and jello, but Sally also brought some cheesecake!
Our cute P. bachei
Class picture with their own cute ctenophore

Thursday 12 April 2018
Thursday was an intense day of sticking it out in the library to study. Pretty much everyday since Monday we had studied and a few us stayed up till the late hours studying away for the lecture exam and the lab practical. The Guin Library is so perfect for nights like these! Equipped with multiple whiteboards, colorful markers, and lots of space, we went HAMShout-out to the Guin librarians for letting us steal ALL THE WHITEBOARDS for our notes.
All the invert species ID'd and organized in preparation for the practical
Group study is the best kinda study!
There are so many types of invertebrates with so much diversity to learn about. It’s crazy to think that Sally taught us so much in such a small period of time.  So much so that some of us were in the library until 2 am. 

Friday and Saturday 13/14 April 2018
Thus the fateful day, and to make it spooky, it was Friday the 13th. Staying up so late didn’t stop us from waking up early again to get the last few hours of studying in before our 12:30 exam and 2 pm practical. We had done all we can and in we went... and I think we all did pretty well! And so the marine invertebrate section came to a close. It was stressful having to learn the 50+ Latin names of the invertebrates we collected but everyone had studied so well the last few days . It was so gratifying to finally be able to identify these animals. Now that we know this information, we will hopefully be able to use it for the future. We just need to remember that to identify a shore crab, we need to check to see if it shaves it legs. If it does, it’s a Hemigrapsus nudus. If it keeps its legs hairy, like a hipster Oregonian, It’s a Hemigrapsus oregonensis. It's that simple! Kind of...
It may not look like it but we were cleaning up the lab in this photo.

These past two weeks were challenging but rewarding in that we've learned so much more and got a better grasp on how each section will be. Next week we start on the marine macroalgae section. We've all already said it in person, but we want to give them a shout out on the blog: thank you, Sally and Rebecca for being amazing teachers!

Before we dive into the algae, Saturday was the annual Hatfield Marine Science Day! I got to volunteer with Scarlett Arbuckle who is head of the Marine Team. We had an awesome time talking to visitors about fishing and sustainability with a really cool activity.
Scarlett Arbuckle and the sustainable fishing activity!

Week two has been a blast and we are looking forward for what's to come with algae this week! 

Closing off the marine invert section with a happy crab!
(Gif by Chris Jones, Dribbble)

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