Although this warty sea cucumber may not look very appetizing to you, there is a commercial fishery for them in California as they are sold in Asian markets for both food and medicine. This warty sea cucumber wasn’t harvested, however, as the only thing that MLML intern Sarah Jeffries took while she was underwater was a photograph.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Friend or food? The predatory sea slug Navanax sits beside a small California Sea Hare. The Navanax usually eats juvenile sea slugs, but lets hope they continue going in opposite directions. It must be rough the first year or two being so small in such a giant ocean!!!
You wont find these guys in a Christmas tree lot. They are baby Postelsia, or sea palms, that are a species of kelp. Just a couple of centimeters tall now, they will eventually grow to a few feet. They live in the rocky intertidal where waves come crashing in, so they have to be really tough to avoid breaking or getting knocked off the rocks. Although they are pretty cute, stick to enjoying these guys with your eyes, as it is illegal to collect them or pull them off of the rocks. A great way to appreciate Postelsia is to photograph it, as you can see from above that it’s quite photogenic!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
This festive looking Rainbow star, Orthasterias koehleri, was seen during a dive at Monastery Beach. An abalone shell is also hiding in this picture… can you find it? And be sure to take our poll to vote for your favorite holiday-themed marine creature!
It may be hard to believe, but that concrete canal is broken because the earth here actually moved. The canal was built on a fault line, which makes it so easy to see the results of tectonic activity. A student in the Geological Oceanography class takes a look while on a field trip.
It’s the catch from a midwater trawl. The fishes you see are Myctophids, or different kinds of lanternfishes that live in the deepsea. They have the amazing ability to produce light, or bioluminesce. Also in this picture are many types of plankton, that include the red, shrimp-like invertebrates you see. Can you find the jelly?
Graduate student Sara Hutto surveys the swell before venturing out farther in the tide pools to work on research for a grant. Sara ventures out into the intertidal at all times of night and day and in all kinds of weather to get her work done on low tides, when more of the algae she studies are exposed.
by Jasmine Ruvalcaba, Phycology Lab
edited by Brynn Hooton
We’ve all heard the giant kelp Macrocystis can grow up to one meter per day. So, how do phycologists, people who study seaweeds, measure growth of different species of algae? With most, you can use a ruler of some sort. For instance, Dr. Graham, advisor of the phycology lab, has a National Science Foundation grant going right now to look at effects of climate change on intertidal and subtidal species. One factor he looks as is algal growth. To do so, we punch holes in the vegetative blade with a regular, run of the mill one-hole puncher near the base of the seaweed, and then each month go back to the same plants, and punch a new hole. We measure from the base of the blade to new the punch, from the new punch to the old punch, and the old punch to the tip of the blade. Wow, sounds like a lot to do underwater, right? Practice makes perfect.
That method is great for species that are fleshy and can grow centimeters per day, but how do you measure growth with calcified species, that grow very slowly? That’s what Paul Tompkins and I, Jasmine Ruvalcaba, are doing as a part of our thesis research. Paul studies rhodoliths, which are calcified red algae that form “beds” over soft sediments all over the world. I am studying their relatives, the articulated species. In a nut-shell, we soak our plants in stains anywhere from 5 minutes to days, depending on what type of stain we’re using, and let the stain mark the alga’s outer cell walls. After the plant is stained, we then put it back in clean seawater and let it grow. Any new parts of the plant that have grown after we took the plant out of the stain should be visible, and we know how long it’s taken to make this new growth. So, here is what we see…..
Keep in touch to read about my future adventures with coralline algae!
by Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, Phycology Lab
I think it’s about time that I tell you about my adventures at Moss Landing Marine Labs. I’m deep into my third year of grad school here, and I have yet to write a blog. Well, things are about to change. I want to share with you what it’s like to SCUBA dive in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, chase down an invasive seaweed in the harbor, and hike through ink-black caves for class.
Lots of experiences got me excited about science and ecology, and helped prepare me for graduate school. You can read about the path I took to get to graduate school and all of its amazing opportunities in my student profile. There I share my experiences working for the California Department of Fish and Game, and as a lab tech in the Wetland Ecology Lab at UC Davis.
You might be wondering why I’m chasing down an invasive seaweed in the harbor. For my thesis I am investigating how native fishes and other organisms use the invasive Asian kelp Undaria pinnatifida for habitat in central California. In my profile I explain why this topic is important to me, and in future posts I will tell you all about what it’s like to dive in Monterey Harbor to collect Undaria and other critters.
That’s all for now, but check back often for new posts, and thanks for letting me share my adventures with you!