Friday, April 26, 2019

Week 4: From Seaweed to the Open Sea


Caption: Students intensely practicing and quizzing each other on the various algae
genus and species

We woke up bright and early after an intense study weekend to prepare for our algae
lab practicum and lecture final. While Miram led the hour and a half long lab review,
students quizzed each other on the genus and phylum names of the 50 algae species
we collected over the past week, which included Endocladia muricata, Acrosiphonia
coalita and Phaeostrophion irregulare. After lunch, we had our final lecture with Sarah
about algae and humans, before we were back studying for the lab practicum. The lab
practicum started at 3pm with everyone eager to begin. We finished the final around
5pm and were free to enjoy the rest of the sunny day!

Caption: Photos of students preparing for their algae treasure taxon research
presentations and for the lecture final!

One algae final done, one more to go! At 9:30am, the first of the nine
student groups presented their research projects on their treasure algal taxa
from the data collected the previous Friday. Much of the research was novel
because there is little known about many of the treasure taxa species we
scoured for in the intertidal. Not only did this teach us more about the different
algae, it also served as a miniature review since many groups would include
information that was true for other members of that particular algae’s phylum or
class! After a quick lunch break (that many students spent flipping through
their notes), we met back at the classroom for a review. The review was lead
by our professor Sarah with student guided questions. Many of these
questions were aimed at understanding the diverse life history of the
chlorophyta, rhodophyta, and phaeophyta. As a class, we practiced drawing
out the different life histories and morphologies, leaving us feeling prepared
to show off all we learned about the algae on the final!

The final lasted for about two hours. As students would finish, they
trickled into the lab to help with clean up. The lab dishes were washed
and put away while the remaining algae samples we had were released
into their natural habitat. This left the lab clean and ready for fishes on

With the algae unit behind us and a much-needed late start, we were ready
to delve in into our next unit - fishes! Dr. Sue Sponaugle opened the first lecture
with an impressive introduction of her educational and research background.
We learned about the characteristics pertaining to 30 fish families before
taking a quick lunch break and basking in the spring sun.

Caption: Some students catching some sun and playing frisbee between

Back in the class, we had a quick introduction to fish anatomy before
beginning our first fish species identification lab (using a dichotomous key of
course)! Upon completion of the lab, we felt ready to identify the possible fish
species we were going to catch during our fun beach trawl.

Everyone was up and ready for lecture at 9am for our first full day of fishes!
We started off learning about fish and the habitats they live in, such as estuaries
and tide pools. After a quick break we dove into a lecture about the different
types of fish reproduction. Once the lectures were complete, everyone left for
lunch and to prepare for our first field trip of the section! We walked over to
Yaquina Bay and trawled for estuarine fishes using a seine net. As the two
students brought the seine net into shore, others rushed over to help collect all
the fish.

Caption: Joe and Charlie trawling with the seine net as Su looks onward

Caption: The BI450 class poised and ready to collect data on the first trawl

Once collected, some students started counting and measuring the fish while
others did a quick sketch of what was caught. After one tow we had over 128
English sole! After a total of five tows, we had enough fish to bring back to lab
and spent the next hour identifying the ones we couldn’t figure out in the field.
Our haul consisted of many different families: Salmonidae, Cottidae, Gobiidae,
Hexagrammidae, Osmeridae, Pleuronectidae, Syngnathidae, and even a
juvenile Scorpaenidae!

Caption: With the tide rolling in, a few students celebrated the successful seine
trawls by going for a swim in Yaquina Bay’s toasty water

Caption: Chelsey smiling at her new best friend - a juvenile Copper Rockfish
(Sebastes caurinus of family Scorpaenidae)

Friday felt a long way away after taking two finals earlier in the week and
starting a new unit. We began our day with a guest lecture by Dr. Bob Cowen. He
shared with us how his scientific career began as an undergrad. Then he taught
us about kelp forests which gave us a good preview for what we saw later at the
aquarium. After our morning lecture, we had a short break then met back up in
lab. In lab we discussed two scientific research papers regarding juvenile English
Sole (Parophrys vetulus) and their estuarine habitat. The class broke up into
smaller groups for think-pair-share; here we discussed the hypotheses, methods,
results, and significance of the scientific papers. Once all of the smaller groups
finished analyzing the papers, we regrouped as a class where a discussion was
facilitated by Miriam and Su. In this big classroom discussion we determined
what our hypothesis would be for our upcoming research project. We were so
invested in our discussion that we talked through our lunch break!
After a quick 40 minutes lunch break we regrouped back at lab where Su
explained what we needed to add to our field notebook for the field trip to the
aquarium: two sketches and detailed observations. Once at the aquarium we
had free range to explore all the tanks! Many of the students recognized some
of the fishes that we had just learned about, and others were also recalling the
scientific names of inverts and algae from past units! After all the fishes were
observed and our sketches complete we met back up in the lab to debrief. Our
hypothesis for our upcoming trawl were finalized and students added in a few
more sketched to their lab notebook before heading out to enjoy
the weekend.

Caption: The class eagerly heading to the Oregon Coast Aquarium!

Caption: Photos of the students in the Open Ocean tunnel, and of a Canary
Rockfish (Sebastes pinniger of the family Scorpaenidae)

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