Monday was the first day of our term here at Hatfield! There are 27 of us starting our journey to becoming scientists and we are the largest class size in the history of this course being taught. It’s crazy! It was a long day, starting with an orientation to the course and a tour of the facilities. We got to see the lab that we will be calling our second home for the next ten weeks and we learned about life at Hatfield and in Newport. That included learning about Donut Wednesdays, Sailing Wednesdays, Tiki Tuesday, and all the cools spots around town. Then we had our first two lectures of the term about the history of the Oregon coast and why studying marine biology is important. Later in the night we took a “Tsunami walk” going along the tsunami evacuation route to Safe Haven Hill, where a shipping container of supplies sits ready for when “ the Big One” happens. It rained the whole walk and we were soaked when we came back… and the forecast for the rest of the week says it’s supposed to rain. Our night ended with sharing pies and getting to know our classmates who we will be spending a lot of time with and living next to for the next ten weeks. We learned where everyone’s from, their majors, and their dream jobs some of which included being the next Steve Irwin, a racecar driver, and a food critic/geneticist. All in all it was a good (though very wet) first day.
Our second day at Hatfield was the day of our first field trip! In the past years that this course has been taught the field trip days typically meant early mornings catching low tides, but this week our field trips meant late (not that late but still) nights as low tide was forecast for between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. So, lucky us because we didn’t have to be at class until 9:00 am every day this week. Our day started off with two lectures, one introducing us to marine invertebrates and the other about phylum Porifera. After lunch our first assignment was already due, and it’s only day two! We then all got dressed in our rain gear and boots not knowing what to expect from our first field trip. We got to Tokatee Klootchman and thankfully it wasn’t raining. We made our way down to the tidepools and got to work searching for any and all invertebrates we could find. We quickly spread out searching for cool inverts. We found many Nucella ostrina (stripped dogwinkle), Anthopleura elegantissima (aggregating anemone), Anthopleura xanthogrammica (giant green anemone), and Pagurus spp. (hermit crab) right off the bat. After a little while the nudies (nudibranchs) began to show up left and right; we found many Hermissenda crassicornis and Rostanga pulchra, which are both very brightly colored species, there were also some Aeolidia papillosa. Some people (Allison) waded up to their waist to get a look at some Pisaster ochraceus. We ended the trip slightly wet, with a large haul of many chitons, snails, hermit crabs, and nudies.
On Wednesday we started our day with a lecture about Cnidarians and Ctenophores which was very interesting. We then headed to the staff lounge at Hatfield for Donut Wednesday. We got to talk to many researchers, NOAA officers, and other professionals in the marine biology field over coffee and donuts. It was awesome! We then went to the lab to work on identifying the many animals we collected the night before at Tokatee. We spent a large portion of our day in lab IDing organisms and starting to work on our notebooks, drawing species. That afternoon we headed for Boiler Bay all geared up for what was supposed to be another rainy day. Luckily when we got there it wasn’t raining anymore. We made the steep climb down to the tide pools and were off searching again for new invertebrate species. We found the glorious Cryptochiton stelleri, which is a GIGANTIC chiton, and people took turns passing around one that was rolled into a ball. We found some new species we didn’t previously have like Tonicella lineata (lined chiton), Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (green urchin), and a few really cool sea stars. We made our way back up the steep cliff side, at least a few of us were a little sore after the climb. Then we ended our day by bringing our finds back to the lab and putting them into a tank.
The day started out with two lectures all about worms. We learned about the many different kinds of worms and their different morphologies and life styles. After lunch we were back in the lab IDing our species we found at Boiler Bay and working more on our notebooks which were due at the end of the week. We worked on drawing species, classifying them and writing descriptions about them. After a few hours of lab work we got geared up for a field trip to the tide flats. We had to be ready to get muddy, so those of us that weren’t wearing proper waders duct taped our rain pants to our boots to keep our boots on and the mud out. Unfortunately, our good luck with the weather came to an end, and it rained while we were out in the field. We made our way out to look for worms, clams, shrimp, and whatever else we could find living deep in the mud. It didn’t take long for people to get stuck and start getting covered in mud. We found a few burrowing shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis and Neotrypaea californiensis. Most of the Upogebia we found had a parasitic isopod under their carapace (Orthione griffensis). When we made our way back to shore some of us opted to wash off in the stream that led into the bay while the rest of us waited until we go back to clean up. When we got back Ashley and Grace's boots were stuck on their feet because there was a lot mud in them! They finally got them off with the help of Eric, Megan, and a hose. We put our specimens in the lab and quickly went home to shower, clean up and rest.
On Friday we started the day off with a lecture about the phyla Arthropoda (crustaceans and insects) and Tardigrada (tardigrades). Did you know tardigrades can survive in space and maybe even originated there?! After lecture we unfortunately had 25+ mph wind, so instead of our planned trip to Cascade Head we switched a few days around and went to Newport Docks instead. We collected a variety of jellyfish and captured a couple of ctenophores, one of which was one of my favorite invertebrates, the sea gooseberries (Pleurobrachia bachei)! After spending a very, very long time staring at our beautiful, nearly invisible finds we got to work finishing up our scientific drawings and characteristic definitions that were due at 5:00 pm.
Dr. Sylvia Yamada, a researcher studying the invasive European Green Crab, worked with some volunteers from our class to set up a variety of crab traps. She taught them how to set up, bait, and put out the traps. With a total of about 25, the hope is we can catch some of the invasive crabs and take some measurements. We’ll be back with some of the results next week!