Author Archive

Diving the MLML Seawater Intakes

October 25, 2013

By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

Earlier this week I volunteered to dive on the MLML seawater intakes, located about 200 m due west of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and 17 m below the surface.  The intakes supply seawater to multiple sites around Moss Landing, including the aquarium room at MLML, the Test Tank at MBARI, and the live tanks at Phil’s Fish Market.

Location of the intake pipes offshore.  Image: MLML/Google Earth (2013)

Location of the intake pipes offshore. Image: MLML/Google Earth (2013)

The purpose of the dive was to attach a surface float to a subsurface float located at a depth of about 15 feet.  A secondary objective was to visually inspect the intakes, which can be viewed in the video below.

The view from approximately above the intakes. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)

The view of Moss Landing from approximately above the intakes. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)

So how do you find an intake system 50 ft below the water?

To execute the operation, Assistant Dive Safety Officer Scott Gabara and I took a whaler from the MLML Small Boats with the assistance of boat driver Catherine Drake.  We used the best GPS coordinates previously called upon to locate the intakes, then threw a spotter surface float attached to a line and weight that unraveled to the seafloor.  We followed that line to the bottom and practiced our circle search skills until we found the first of the two intakes.  While anchoring the search line I saw a pipefish, a couple flatfish, and not much else.  During our descent and ascent we spotted half a dozen sea nettles, but on the sandy bottom it appeared pretty desolate.  The intakes, on the other hand, provide a hard substrate for sessile invertebrates and their predators to form a lively little oasis in the sand.  The first thing you notice when you come upon the intakes are the large white Metridium anemones.  If you take a closer look at the video, around 15 seconds in, you can spot a little octopus scurrying for cover.  After inspecting the first intake we moved to the second, that’s right, completely submerged by sand, with the line extending up to the subsurface float.  Though the video is short you can see some of the organisms residing on the line include seastars, Metridium, caprellids or “skeleton shrimp”, and my favorite marine invertebrate: nudibranchs.  Hermissenda (opalescent) nudibranchs, to be exact.  I wish I had a chance to take still photos while I was out there, but we had a job to do.  We successfully tied the surface float to the line and removed old line, thus making it much easier for future divers to study sediment movement and perform maintenance on the intake pipes.

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Tidepooling Take Two

October 17, 2013

Wyse_headshotBy Diane WysePhysical Oceanography Lab

Earlier this week, three graduate student volunteers and I ventured to Bay View Academy in Monterey to talk with the fourth grade class about trophic levels and intertidal zonation.  I had the unique opportunity to lead the trip again this year, you can learn about the first iteration of this trip in one of my very first posts for the Drop-In.

Sara Worden, Heather Kramp, Dorota Szuta, and Diane Wyse lead a classroom safety briefing and intertidal lesson. Photo: Erika McPhee-Shaw (2013)

Sara Worden, Heather Kramp, Dorota Szuta, and Diane Wyse lead a classroom safety briefing and intertidal lesson. Photo: Erika McPhee-Shaw (2013)

I volunteered for the trip again this year because it is the sort of educational outreach experience that to me really embodies the spirit of MLML; sharing resources and experiences from multiple labs and teaching in our beautiful marine backyard.  The student volunteers represented the Physical Oceanography Lab, the Phycology Lab (Sara Worden), the Benthic Ecology Lab (Dorota Szuta), and the Ichthyology Lab (Heather Kramp). Another reason I volunteered again? Try passing up an opportunity to geek out science on one of the prettiest beaches in the world.  Yeah, it’s tough to do.

Benthic Ecology Lab student Dorota Szuta teaches a group of fourth grade girls about intertidal invertebrates. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)

Benthic Ecology Lab student Dorota Szuta teaches a group of fourth grade girls about intertidal invertebrates. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)

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R/V Point Sur in Transit

May 1, 2013

The R/V Point Sur is heading home this week, and students have had the opportunity to help with various science operations and add some cruise time to their resumes by joining up for a leg or two of the trip.  Check out this post by Ashley Wheeler, a first year in the Geological Oceanography Lab at MLML, about her experiences aboard our beloved vessel.

Ashley-Wheeler_headshot

Ashley Wheeler – Photo by Tara Pastuszek

CTD-package-at-sunrise

Ready on deck, the CTD package is set to deploy at sunrise – Photo by Ashley Wheeler

Sampling on the High Seas

March 7, 2013

By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

Last week, students from the Chemical Oceanography class took advantage of many of the resources at Moss Landing Marine Labs to perform an analysis of dissolved oxygen throughout the seawater intake system.  The system supplies seawater from offshore to the MLML aquarium (up on “the hill,” at the main campus of the lab), the live tanks at Phil’s Fish Market, MBARI’s Test Tank, and to SLEWTHS.

Moss Landing

For the first stop of the day, students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler joined professor Kenneth Coale and teaching assistant Diane Wyse in loading up a whaler with supplies for sampling.  The team set out to collect water offshore at 17 m, around the depth that water is brought into the system.  The whaler, one of three available to students through the MLML Small Boats, was equipped with an aluminum pulley system to collect water at depth.

Professor Kenneth Coale and students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler prepare to sample water at depth.  Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale and students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler prepare to sample water at depth. Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale samples water from ~17 m using a Niskin bottle.  Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale samples water from ~17 m using a Niskin bottle. Photo: D. Wyse

The second stop on the seawater sampling adventure was at the MLML Pumphouse, where unfiltered seawater passes through the instruments of the data acquisition system.  A variety of oceanographic parameters, including temperature, salinity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen concentration, are measured and shared with the public through the MLML Public Data Portal.

Finally, the sampling team headed up the hill to the MLML aquarium, and collected and pickled water that is pumped in for the marine flora and fauna kept for thesis research and class projects.  The “pickling” step involves addition of reagents to the glass collection bottles before they are sealed to prevent further biological processes from altering the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the sample.  The pickling process was applied in the same fashion, immediately after collecting, to all of the samples taken that day.

Kristin Walovich samples water from the MLML Aquarium

Kristin Walovich samples water from the MLML Aquarium

Back at the MLML Environmental Biotechnology Lab students performed a Winkler titration to determine the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the samples.   The data from this class experiment can be used to help calibrate the oxygen optodes on the Public Data Portal system.

WinklerAnalysis

Biological Oceanography Class Field Trip to the California Maritime Academy

February 12, 2013

by Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

Last week the biological oceanography class took a field trip to the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.  The purpose of the trip was to learn about the MLML Biological Oceanography Lab’s work with ballast water treatment aboard the Training Ship Golden Bear.

VallejoBridge

View of the Carquinez Strait Bridge from the TS Golden Bear. Photo: D. Wyse

We started the day with background about the importance of ballast water treatment for aquatic invasive species management, led by Biological Oceanography Lab students Brian Maurer, Heather Fulton-Bennet, and Julie Kuo.

Biological oceanography student Brian Maurer concentrates a water sample to test for zooplankton viability.

Biological oceanography student Brian Maurer concentrates a water sample to test for zooplankton viability. Photo: D. Wyse

 After that we took a tour of the ship’s engine room, bridge, and saw some of the living quarters.  The ship can house up to 350 people and each year takes a 2-month cruise in different parts of the world to train Cal Maritime students about merchant marine operations and engineering.

Members of the biological oceanography class take a tour of the TS Golden Bear.  Photo: D. Wyse

Members of the biological oceanography class take a tour of the TS Golden Bear. Photo: D. Wyse

In the afternoon we took a tour of the marine biology lab, where Biological Oceanography lab students, under the direction of Dr Nick Welshmeyer, analyze the effectiveness of different ballast water treatment methods.

Biological oceanography student Heather Fulton-Bennet counts live zooplankton under a microscope on the TS Golden Bear

Biological oceanography student Heather Fulton-Bennet counts live zooplankton under a microscope on the TS Golden Bear

Spring Tales and Tides

January 23, 2013

Moss Landing Marine Labs resumes classes today, and with the new semester comes renewed offering of exciting courses.  This spring, students at MLML have a number of options to satiate their appetites for statistics and data analysis, courses on scientific writing, methods, organisms both macro and micro, and field trips from the surface waters of Monterey Bay to the Elkhorn Slough to explorations of the seafloor and beyond.

Keep an eye out for stories from these classes and more as we hypothesize, test, and study our way through the spring semester:

Haiku of the Week – Scientific Writing

Humpback whales.  NMFS Permit #: 15271

Humpback whales. NMFS Permit #: 15271

Subtidal Ecology – one of our triennial field course offerings is back!

Recent Phycology Lab graduate and Friends of MLML Director Brynn Hooton-Kaufman manipulating Undaria for an NSF grant experiment. Photo: S. Jeffries

Recent Phycology Lab graduate and Friends of MLML Director Brynn Hooton-Kaufman manipulates Undaria for an NSF grant experiment. Photo: S. Jeffries

Algae pressing and herbaria  – Biology of Seaweeds

Recent Phycology Lab graduate Sara Tappan-Hutto shows visitors an algae pressing.  Photo: E. Loury

Recent Phycology Lab graduate Sara Tappan-Hutto shows visitors an algae press. Photo: E. Loury

Nutrient analyses and profiles of Monterey Bay, nearshore to offshore – Chemical Oceanography

CTD aboard the R/V Pt. Sur. Photo: A. Woods

Sampling, shipboard techniques, and plankton identification – Biological Oceanography

Julie Kuo, a graduate student in the Biological Oceanography lab at MLML, counts the number of zooplankton in a sample of pre-treated ballast water.

Julie Kuo, a graduate student in the Biological Oceanography lab at MLML, counts the number of zooplankton in a sample of pre-treated ballast water. Photo: C. Drake

…and much more!

Follow the R/V Point Sur on Her First Voyage to Antarctica

December 11, 2012

On Thursday, November 29 the R/V Point Sur, MLML’s largest research vessel and a member of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet, set sail for Palmer Station, Antarctica.  The ship and her crew, accessed for class cruises and interdisciplinary and inter-organizational research projects, will be making several stops through Central and South America during her voyage over the next several months.  You can even track the trip here.

The R/V Point Sur leaving Moss Landing Harbor (Photo: Andrea Launer)

The R/V Point Sur leaving Moss Landing Harbor, en route to Palmer Station, Antarctica. (Photo: Andrea Launer)

Over the course of her 8,200 mile journey the crew will post updates about all aspects of the cruise.  While we will miss the Pt Sur during her first voyage to Antarctica, we can look forward to exciting updates on the Pt Sur blog.

Sunset from the Point Sur off the coast of Mexico (Photo: India )

Sunset from the Point Sur off the coast of Mexico. (Photo: India Grammatica)

Stay tuned for updates and stories from the crew!

8 Days at Sea

November 7, 2012

By Kelley Andrews, Pacific Shark Research Center

The high-pitched whine of the winch jolts me awake.  I come groggily to my senses, noticing the cigarette smoke from some of the crewmembers wafting through the door of the bunkroom and the dim morning light.  It’s somewhere around 5:45 am.

It is my third morning out at sea.  I am on the F/V Noah’s Ark, volunteering for a leg of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Fisheries Research Analysis and Monitoring (FRAM) survey.  The mission of the survey is to assess the health of groundfish populations off the west coast of the United States.  The survey makes two passes of the coast from Washington to Southern California every summer, fishing and taking samples and data.  I am part of a team of three scientists, and we are with a crew of four fishermen on the 80-foot vessel.  Right now we are somewhere west of Monterey, CA.

Snail fish.  Photo: K. Andrews (2012)

The first tow of the day begins around 5:30 am, so we can begin processing the catch by 6:30.  The winches deploy and reel in the net from depths over 1,000 feet.  As I go out on deck to get ready to sort fish, I notice that the weather has picked up.  The first two days were flat calm, and I had no idea the ocean could be glassy 50 miles from shore.  But today the winds and swell are picking up, and it feels as though we are headed for rougher weather.

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New Semester, New Students, New Stories

September 8, 2012

With classes underway, the lab is abuzz with new activities and learning.  This fall, the MLML community welcomes 22 new students to ten of our labs.  Ever find yourself wondering how graduate students at Moss Landing got their start in marine science?  Our new student backgrounds range from gray whale surveys off the Washington coast, to photographing white sharks in South Africa, to shipboard oceanography in Canada, and much more!  Learn about their paths to marine science and research interests by checking out their profiles on our Meet the Students page.

Jackie surveying whales off the Washington coast

Kristin freediving in South Africa

Heather performing field research in Canada

Stay tuned for their stories and more from your MLML blog team.

Volunteer Angling with CCFRP

August 29, 2012

Jeff with young-of-the-year Blue Rockfish. Photo courtesy of Starr Lab

By Jeff Christensen, CSU Stanislaus

In 2011, I had the opportunity to participate in a California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) fishing trip.  When I received a message from Andrea Launer, CCFRP Volunteer Coordinator, this spring about the summer data collection schedule, I knew I wanted to go out again and be part of this amazing project.

With one of my classes starting on the first day of sampling, I wasn’t able to make the Monday, August 6th date but I was aboard F/V Caroline at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf before sunrise on Tuesday with hot coffee in hand ready to do some angling.  After a safety briefing by Captain Shorty we headed out along the Monterey coastline as Cannery row began to stir in the light of the pre-dawn sky.  The sea was a bit rough and the wind waves made the trip out to the Point Lobos State Reserve a small adventure in and of itself.

Cheryl Barnes, CCFRP Field Coordinator and MLML graduate student, gave the anglers an amusing briefing about the specifics of the collection protocols of the catch and release program.   In order for this work to be helpful in determining if the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are effective in propagating the species within these areas since their inception in 2007, a variety of anglers were assigned different lures and/ or bait similar to fishing techniques used on guided recreational fishing trips from the area.

By the time Captain Shorty announced over the loud speaker to drop our lines in the water of the first research cell of the day, the rolling waves were already taking its toll on our balance and stomachs. The port side “fish feeding station” was busy early on but as the fog receded, we all got our sea legs and the fishing improved.   The boat as a whole ended up catching and releasing a total of 176 fish from 14 different species, including a 84cm lingcod (Ophiodon elongates) caught by Chris L., fishing next to me.  We must have been in some big fish because not too long after Chris’s lingcod, I hooked another giant fish, I estimated at over 100 cm (due to how hard it was to pull up) but after a perilous fight, the “Big One” got away as it neared the surface.

MLML grad student Katherine Schmidt measures a Lingcod.  Photo courtesy of Starr Lab

While the anglers were pulling up their catch, the scientific staff was busy collecting the fish, measuring them, tagging some, and making sure they were returned to the bottom as soon as possible.  I was thoroughly impressed how each staff member tried to make sure every fish was returned to their home with human stories to tell of their own.  One sea lion, however, was happy to accept a free lingcod h’ordurve as it took a large bite out of an angler’s catch as it was reeled up.  That lingcod, too, was returned to the ocean making a meal for the fish, crab, and sea stars that would finish the work of the sea lion.  The seas were rough as we headed back in and even tossed a few of us out of our seats to the deck (Ouch!).

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