How strange to call this planet 'Earth' when quite clearly it is ocean. Arthur C. Clarke

Friday, June 12, 2015

RC Lab Research Media Attention

Another Raimondi graduate student, Monica Moritsch, is doing really exciting research on the recent sea star epidemic. It attracted writers from the Canadian Hakai Magazine who wrote a piece on her work and made a short video. Check it out!


http://www.hakaimagazine.com/video/no-sea-stars-mussel-beach





Caught in the Act

This week was very exciting because my first high school intern, Evan, came to help with and learn about my research! Once Nicole finishes finals and comes next week we will take a group photo for the blog.

Since Evan was able to help out this week, we cleaned and counted the snails I currently have in the seawater table. When he was cleaning one of the cups, he caught a whelk in the act of eating! It had its proboscis extended into the gape of a mussel and it looked pink at the end, as if it were sucking up pink mussel flesh. I was so excited to see this I took several pictures. It was not easy to get it in focus, but see below for the best photos I could get.



A Nucella sp. dogwhelk eating a large mussel by extending its proboscis into the mussel shell.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Shirts

My shirt came in and it looks great! Since people were interested in buying one of their own, I created a site where you can order one. Feel free to change the colors and style.

http://www.zazzle.com/epacs_ecoevo


Friday, May 15, 2015

Field photos

What is it like when I do collections in the intertidal? Here are some photos from my last trip to the intertidal rocks by Hopkins Marine Station on May 11.

This is what we look like looking for snails!


I found a snail!


I found a nudibranch with cool spots; the ringed dorid, 
Diaulula sandiegensis!


Yay for field helpers!


The biggest purple encrusting sponge I'd ever seen!


Weird worms in the mussel bed! Maybe they are
peanut worms, but I really have no idea.

This is what we look like collecting mussels!


Is that whelk eating that chiton?!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Field and Lab Work

It's been too long since I've posted any updates! But this is for a good reason: I've been busy doing my research!

Since my Oregon Site Scouting entry, I've done a lot. Below I attempted to summarize the most important events, but the list kept growing, so it is more of a bulleted story.
  • Finalized my collecting methods
  • Set up the seawater table to organize and contain my live snails
  • Collected at Soberanes Point and Hopkins Marine Station
  • Put my live animals in the seawater table
  • Started training undergraduate interns to help me
  • Had my mom and her friend over for Easter weekend
  • Changed and improved the way my animals are kept in the seawater table
  • Collected more mussels to feed the live snails
  • Attended a fisheries conference
    • Presented a poster
    • Got a flat tire
    • Was called up to receive a poster award while I was outside fixing my flat tire
  • Met with my advisor and reevaluated and redefined my collecting methods
  • Cracked my windshield loading a longboard into my car
  • Sampled my Lompoc Landing site located within Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Used my poster prize money to buy a new windshield
  • Started a side project for one of my interns
  • Collected at Bodega Marine Reserve with an intern
  • Talked to a professor at Bodega Marine Reserve who is asking very similar questions in almost the same system as me
    • Feared getting scooped again
    • Talked to my advisor, who said it will be fine and I should continue my current plan
    • Regained confidence and continued my current plan
  • Drove on Highway 1 north of SF and learned how extremely windy and slow it is and never to do it again
  • Cleaned and froze mussels
  • Froze and cleaned mussels
  • Ran in the Big Sur Marathon with an old college roommate
  • Revived my old laptop and designated it the lab computer
  • Wrote and adapted protocols to clean, dry, weigh, and measure mussels
  • Cleaned, dried, weighed and measured mussels
  • Reorganized the live snails in the seawater table
  • Ordered my first specialized, expensive tool—a point micrometer—to measure mussel shell thickness
  • Used an electric drill for the first time to build part of a new water delivery system for the snails in the seawater table
  • Tried to make up a protocol to collect data for my intern, but got mixed up and confused
  • Had extra volunteers help me out and realized too late I didn't explain my procedures well enough
  • Went to a mentoring workshop so I can be a better mentor (that was today)
As you can see, there have been ups and downs. This is natural. I fully expect that I will have to go back to all these sites and really do it right. I think that the data I collect now from my collections will be more like pilot data that I use to see if I should go back and collect again with fewer to no mistakes. I realize, however, that mistakes always happen, so I should expect the worst even if I hope for the best.

Here are photos of the above events, roughly in chronological order. Enjoy!


Collecting at Soberanes Point in Big Sur, CA.


When my mom visited, we found a great Brazilian restaurant and went to the 
boardwalk. 


On the left is the surfboard that caused
the crack! Boooo 10 ft fiberglass boards!


A view of Lompoc Landing through my cracked windshield.


Sampling at Lompoc Landing in Vandenberg Air Force Base.


The finish line at the Big Sur Marathon.


A mussel to be measured.


Wet lab set up. There are whelks 
and mussels in those cups.


Yellow whelk eggs produced in the lab. Those are actually 
egg capsules. The eggs are much smaller and inside.


A dancing whelk. 






Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oregon Site Scouting

Last weekend I went to the Oregon coast to look at the sites I want to sample. Primarily, though, I was in Portland for my old college roommate's wedding; congratulations, Rachel and Max!

Purely by curious observation, I learned a lot about intertidal life in Oregon and how it's different than in California. This seemed backwards to me because I grew up in Oregon and was first inspired to study intertidal ecology because of Oregon tidepools. Fifteen years later, I finally feel like I understand something about them... but only in California. I won't give up on you, Oregon! I'm still charmed by your windy coasts and incredibly productive intertidal communities, and I have many years left to learn about them.

To spare your eyes a block of text, and since I took many photos, here's a picture montage of where I went and what I learned. All of these are original photos with no digital editing.


The bridge in Newport, OR over Yaquina Bay.
Near OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The bridge in Newport, OR over Yaquina Bay.
Near OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center.


Rouge Brewing's world headquarters. 
Near OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center.
Yaquina Bay Bridge in the background.

Yaquina South Jetty. I looked for mussels here,
but found none.

A research vessel entering Yaquina Bay.

Oregon coast beach. I never suspected my first thought would
be: I'd surf that. Santa Cruz is getting to me.

Looking for more places off Hwy 101 to collect just mussels. 

Another field site: Strawberry Hill (STR). I'm not sure yet how it
was named. I didn't see strawberries, but they might come out in 
the summer. This was actually the wrong spot...

...this is the spot at STR where I am going to sample. This is
where there is (I think) some long-term diversity data. The
following photos are all from STR.


Nucella whelk on a mussel at STR. It's probably not 
eating the mussel because apparently the whelks in 
Oregon rarely eat mussels, and when they do, they 
eat a different species than the one shown here.

View of the land from the intertidal at STR.

Imposter!

Some super cute green anemones showing off their bright green 
photosynthetic symbionts in the full Oregon sun. 

Was something boring into this whelk? Can you feel the irony?

That's a huge mussel! It was the size of my hand! I've never
seen them that big in California.

Ha, I caught you! Those two whelks were totally eating mussels. 
Maybe they gave up on barnacles because they just kept settling
on the whelk's shell, mocking it.

S/he was determined not to let go. I left her/him attached
so s/he could finish eating when the tide came up.

There were so many whelks here, I had a really hard time not 
stepping on them. 

View of the ocean from the STR intertidal site.

Evidence of whelk predation? Maybe, but there's
no way to know which species made that hole...
unless there is, but no one has studied that yet. 
Thesis chapter?

A cheery tidepool. 

A whelk doing its whelky thing.

Is this what the world looks like from a whelk's point of view?

Albino mussel? Why is it orangey-tan? There were about 1 in
1000 of this color.

Whelks will be whelks.

I spy a bright orange Nucella

 I saw several healthy sea stars—at least a dozen—and no diseased
stars. Yay! This one is having a meal. 

See how beautiful this site is? Don't you want to help me collect field data?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Volunteer Waiver Form and Research Calendar

I'm so excited to have many people wanting to help me with my research!

There are certainly things I need help doing right now. I am planning to do field work next week, and I don't have collecting bags made or proper tanks for the whelks I'll be bringing back. After that I'll need help photographing, measuring, dissecting, and whole bunch of other things I haven't thought of yet. If you plan to help, please see the links below.

Volunteer waiver form

Please fill out and sign this volunteer waiver form before coming in to help. It gives you medical coverage in case you get hurt. Link: Volunteer waiver form

Research events calendar

Here is my calendar with specific dates and times for when I'll need help. Please let me know at least a day in advance if you are planning to come to LML to help me. Link: Research Events Calendar

Check out how cool you could look doing intertidal research:


Thanks again, everyone!