The Hydrous

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Collapsible kayak. Photo Source: Kenji Soto

This blog was written by guest blogger, Kenji Soto, of the Benthic Ecology Lab. 

It’s 6pm on Thursday August 25th and somehow I find myself in a sharply dressed gathering of people on the second floor of Steuart Tower in the financial district of San Francisco, one block away from the Embarcadero.  Making up the crowd are people from Autodesk, Google, 3D modelers, educators, artists, and scientists.  There’s a bartender serving beer and wine, a snack table filled with a variety of mini meat and vegan kabobs paired with corresponding dipping sauces, an assortment of focaccia samplers, and toast with even more sauces.  This is all too fancy for me, a humble jean wearing graduate student, and I feel a bit out of place even in my dressy-casual button up shirt that I luckily remembered to bring (I did however forget my jacket!). Continue reading

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A Season of Faith’s Perfection

That title was used in a movie to describe the hope that springs eternal at the start of a new baseball season and it has always stuck with me. Perhaps it comes from growing up in Cleveland, Ohio a city famous (until recently) for middling sports performance. And yet, every year, that first day of the season possesses a certain magic. The idea that this is the year, this is the year that it all comes together. On the first day of the season, teams and fan bases alike truly believes that they are headed to the World Series. That is the beauty of a season of promise, not yet touched by disappointment or shortcomings.

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Introducing, “What’s Up With Your Science, MLML?” a New Vlog Series

This year, MLML’s social media is introducing a new vlog (video blog) series called, “What’s Up With Your Science, MLML?”. These short video updates are your chance to learn about the MLML community and the roles we play to move our marine science endeavors forward.

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Collecting Kelp Data in Waves

What do you get when a wave hits a kelp bed? The attention of two different labs at MLML! To better understand wave behavior as it meets a kelp bed, graduate student Steven Cunningham from the Phycology lab is partnering with Physical Oceanography professor, Dr. Tom Connolly.

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Beautiful morning at Stillwater Cove to deploy a newly constructed instrument for measuring waves in a kelp forest. (Photo credit: Dr. Colleen Durkin)

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Taking Up Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)

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This week’s post is written by Amanda Heidt of the Invertebrate Zoology Lab as summer field season gets underway here at Moss Landing.

 

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Who else is happy for some invert-talk?

It’s been a bit…vertebrate-y on the blog lately, so today we’re going to hear about one of the ongoing projects of the Invertebrate Zoology lab here at Moss Landing! Our principle investigator, Dr. Jonathan Geller, is a coauthor on a recent paper to come out of our collaboration with the Infinite Diversity project, whose members include representatives from NOAA, the Smithsonian, San Diego State University, UCLA, and international scientists across Indonesia. With funding provided by the National Science Confutation, the ultimate goal of this project has been twofold: to foster international collaborations among marine scientists and to better understand marine biodiversity along geographic and anthropogenic (human-induced) stress gradients, with specific interest in tropical coral systems.

A thorough understanding of the ways in which we affect our environment and how these effects might play out under future climatic scenarios is of increasing importance, and it requires a method that is both standardized and tractable over time. So, let me tell you a little story. When I first started imagining this post almost a year ago, I had just spent a month at sea, diving at remote sites to collect field instruments that could then be brought back on board and analyzed. They were essentially stacks of PVC plates, held apart by small plastic spacers, which were anchored to the reef and left to “marinate” for years until they became nearly continuous with the reef itself. These pieces of equipment were ARMS (known in longhand as “Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures”), and they represent the answer to the question “How do we provide a systematic, consistent, and comparable method for analyzing biodiversity across broad scales?”

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ARMS structure, deployment, and recovery after a few years out on the reef.

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Working with “mer-dogs” aka California Sea Lions

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Mason Cole of the Vertebrate Ecology lab authored this post on California Sea Lions as part of Dr. Gitte McDonald’s Marine Mammal class blog series.

 

MLML Director Dr. Jim Harvey likes to say that harbor seals are the “cats of the sea”.  If that’s true, then California sea lions are the rambunctious young puppy dogs of the sea.  But not those little baby fluff-ball puppies; no, more like that almost-full-grown, 90-pound wrecking ball.

Many a commercial fisherman would cringe to read this, but I love working with sea lions.  They earned their place in my mind as “mer-dogs” for more than just their energy and enthusiasm: they are also particularly intelligent, with striking personalities and an impressive capacity to learn trained behavior.

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Nemo with his prize herring – good boy!  (Photo credit: Mason Cole.)

Allow me to introduce Cali and Nemo, two California sea lions with the project SLEWTHS (Science Learning and Exploration With The Help of Sea lions, founded and directed by Dr. Jenifer Zeligs).   Continue reading

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Disentangling a Difficult Situation

This week’s story is a continuation of the MS211 Marine Mammals class series and comes to us from Bradley Wilkinson, a graduate student from San Jose State University.

I had never seen so many whales before in my life. Standing atop Southeast Farallon Island, bracing against the rails of a relic lighthouse, I commanded an unequaled view of the surrounding seascape. To the northeast, Pt. Reyes stood before Bodega Bay, forming an extreme limit to my far-reaching gaze. The Golden Gate Bridge was blatantly obvious to the east, framed nicely against the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. To the south and west, endless blue. Huge container ships waiting for port entry outlined the invisible lanes of industrial traffic.

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The lighthouse on Southeast Farallon Island offers an amazing view of the surrounding Gulf of the Farallones for whale observations. Photo: Bradley Wilkinson

But the whales. The whales were everywhere, stealing the proverbial show. Spouts popped off in every direction, grouped in conglomerates of nearly a dozen on occasion. In total, I counted over eighty whales of three species that afternoon, in only one hour of effort. The extreme productivity of the Gulf of the Farallones had attracted this concentration of cetaceans, a predictable patch of food nested with the dynamism and variability of the oceanic environment. But just below the surface, sharing the water column with swarms of krill and schools of anchovy, lurked a lethal threat. I had seen them while onboard the sailboat to the island. Although only a small part of each one was visible at the surface, I knew much more lay beneath. This paradoxically obvious yet invisible threat was both insipid and borne of abandonment. Derelict fishing gear.

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