Ichthyology, the R/V Point Sur, and McDonalds

February 22, 2015 by

There are few times that I would willingly wake up while it is still dark outside. The day of our ichthyology field trip aboard the R/V Point Sur was one of those days. Not only would it be my first time aboard the Point Sur, it would also be my last before its retirement after 28 years of service at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Suffice to say, I was pretty excited to have this opportunity.

The R/V Point Sur

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Do you know where your seafood comes from?

January 23, 2015 by

With oceans covering over 75% of Earth’s surface, nearly one billion people depend on seafood for sustenance. As more people continue to add seafood into their diets, our seafood resources are becoming depleted. Some seafood such as bluefin tuna are very valuable, resulting in unmanaged fisheries. To keep up with the demands and profits, products are purposely being mislabeled in hopes that the consumers will continue buying these products. Today, around 25 – 75% of the seafood we consume is mislabeled. This is an alarming issue, as seafood fraud encourages increased illegal fishing activities and impairs consumers right choices in seafood and can impact our health.

Seafood is an important source of food for many people, especially in Japan. Here is the famous Tsukiji Fish Market known for selling high quality bluefin tuna; photo credit to Japan-Guide

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SCUBA, it’s to dive for!

December 23, 2014 by

Imagine you are a scientist about to begin researching the density of a type of Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. Let’s pretend you have already spent hours and hours doing the background research necessary and now you are tasked with collecting the data. You create a list of all the tools you’ll need; meter tape, data sheets, flagging tape etc, and now you’re ready to go into the field to sample. A quick drive up to northern California will put you right in the middle of the Redwood forest where you can easily collect your data. Now picture that your next project is to collect the density of blue rockfish, Sebastes mystinus. It sounds pretty similar to your previous study but with an added challenge; your site is underwater. This added challenge will require a completely different method to collect your data. You’ll need to actually see these rockfish in order to count them, but how?

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Things that go “bump” in the ocean

December 17, 2014 by

Jackie Lindsey

by Jackie Lindsey, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

When Jacques-Yves Cousteau gave the world its first video footage of the ocean in color, he named this documentary The Silent World.  Perhaps as a result, most of us think of the ocean as a quiet refuge, punctuated by occasional humpback whale songs or clicks from a passing pod of dolphins.  In recent years, scientists have dipped microphones into the water and discovered that this could not be further from the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Take a deep breath, and dive in with our new Vertebrate Ecologist!

September 15, 2014 by
Dr. Gitte McDonald

Dr. Gitte McDonald

Next semester, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories will welcome a new faculty member: Dr. Birgitte I. McDonald.  She is replacing Director Jim Harvey as the new head of the Vertebrate Ecology Lab.  Gitte agreed to answer a few questions about herself in advance of her much-anticipated arrival! Read the rest of this entry »

Projects in Baja – Parrotfish Behavior

September 7, 2014 by

Some of you may have been following the blog way back in March, when the “Baja class” traveled to the Gulf of California for two weeks in the field (as a refresher, you can check out the previous posts here and here). Jackie promised some photos and stories from the trip, so I’m going to highlight my particular research project down there and toss in a few of my own photos (better late than never, right?)!


SeaLife DC1400

Panoramic view from our campsite on the beach at Bahia de Concepcion, our second of three overnight stops in Mexico on the way down to El Pardito.

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Invertebrate Spotlight: Protulophila Hydroids

August 6, 2014 by

It was just announced a couple months ago that researchers in New Zealand found a specimen of the hydroid Protulophila that was previously believed to be extinct for 4 million years.  Before this discovery, these organisms had only been found in fossil records in the Middle East and Europe, some of which dated back 170 million years.

Awesome discovery, right? But to take a step back now, what exactly is a hydroid?

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MPAs we’re diving today!

July 21, 2014 by

One of the great things about being a student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is going diving with your fellow students.  You get to see what they are studying and hopefully get some good karma or pay them back for helping you out.  I was able to get back in the water after a couple months of drying up on land and dive with Devona Yates.


Devona Yates with a kelp headband that is becoming all the rage now.

She is interested in predator-prey relationships and how predatory fishes can have cascading effects on lower trophic levels as they consume invertebrate prey.  This cascading effect may differ inside and outside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), as it appears MPAs may have different, larger, and more abundant predatory fish.  Devona is using tethering and survey methods to quantify mortality of these invertebrates and how that may vary as a function of MPA status.  It will be interesting and exciting to look at these MPA effects on the survival of these important prey sources for fishes.  We use MPAs as a way to protect and increase important ecosystem members we depend on for food and are necessary for maintaining ecosystem function.  Predator depletion and recovery may cause changes that were much more complex than we had thought.


David sampling to estimate the number of small invertebrate prey in different habitat types.

(LOOK) Here is a link to a short video clip of the dive, even harbor seals are interested in science.

The Ballast Team Goes to Sea

July 17, 2014 by

Those of us working on the ballast project in the Biological Oceanography lab are closely tied with the Cal Maritime Academy and their training ship, the Golden Bear. So, wherever the ship goes, we go! This summer’s training cruise for the cadets took the Golden Bear across the Pacific from San Francisco, California to Busan, South Korea, then throughout the South Pacific and eventually to the island of Saipan. One of our team members, Marilyn Cruickshank, volunteered on the trans-Pacific crossing, gathering surface water samples along the way and conducting a variety of assays to get an idea of the biomass out in the open ocean.

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Fog Blog: the June Edition

June 20, 2014 by

By Alex Olson & Holly Chiswell, Chemical Oceanography


Fog Tower deployed, the crew of the R/V Point Sur spotlights night waters to avoid crab pots during fog collection operations off the California Coast (Photo by Alex Olson)

On June 5th, members of the Marine Pollutions Studies and Chemical Oceanography Labs under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Coale, began a week-long journey on the R/V Point Sur to investigate the recent findings of mercury in coastal marine fog. Dubbed “The Fog Cruise”, the crew and science party aboard sampled near and offshore waters using oceanographic tools for signs of methylmercury (MeHg), from deep sea sediments to fog above the sea surface. Read the rest of this entry »


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