Heather Barrett recording sea otter behavior during a disturbance scan.
Guest post by Heather Barrett of the Vertebrate Ecology Lab.
The crisp morning begins with stretches, a barrel role here and there, and one of the members breaking off to search for a crab breakfast. The raft bobs as the distant boat wake lifts each otter in a wave; rocking them gently in a water cradle. There are five mothers with cotton-ball pups that begin the tedious nursing and grooming process, lifting the plush bodies and breathing warm air in to their Einstein frizz. But the calm morning routines will soon be disrupted and turn to disorder. The bright colored beasts have arrived, aiming the kayak bows towards the otter raft, paddles drumming as they hit the surface of the water. Continue reading
Guest post by Tyler Barnes of the Geological Oceanography Lab.
To say that I was not intrigued by science as a teenager would be an enormous understatement. I despised science. I often attribute uninspired teaching and an inadequate education system for this reaction, but in reality I was just a moody teenager preoccupied by other interests (for the record, I have enormous respect for the teachers and administrators that have influenced my education). My disregard for science at the time is somewhat surprising. My earliest memories included being unwillingly dragged away from the beach after hours of exploration, or learning to cast a fishing rod just right so as not to snag a tree branch. These experiences morphed into forecasting swells with my dad before surfing and competing in local junior lifeguard competitions. So why was I so uninterested in science? Continue reading
Written by San Jose State University graduate student, Abram Fleishman.
Each December my news feeds, from Facebook and Twitter to professional listservs and
mainstream news sources, are inundated by a flood of stories about one bird. Not one
species of bird, but actually a single individual living on one of the most remote islands in one of the most remote archipelagos in the world. A bird that if it was not beautiful, elegant, and most of all old, no one would care about.
Wisdom preens her freshly-hatched chick on Midway Atoll. (Photo: Naomi Blinick)
Third installment of the blog series by students enrolled in MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles with faculty member Dr. Gitte McDonald.
By Kate High, SJSU undergraduate taking classes at MLML
Mel re-sighting elephant seals. Photo source: Kate High
Interning in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratory this past year has given me countless opportunities to participate in activities most undergraduate students at SJSU might not know exist. I began training for elephant seal research at Año Nuevo State Park at the beginning of January. Even though I’ve had a lot of field experience, I can honestly say I have never been more nervous about a field day in my life. Continue reading
(Today, we have another post courtesy of MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles, this time from Moss Landing student and author Jenni Johnson. She is going to talk about the hectic but rewarding work involved in elephant seal research at Año Nuevo State Park.)
BEEP! BEEP! I roll over to turn off my alarm and read the clock: 4:30 a.m. Begrudgingly I arise, slip into my field clothes, and head to the kitchen to make breakfast before beginning the forty-five minute commute to Long Marine Lab (LML). As I drive north, I mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. Today our focus is assisting with the annual weanling weighing effort. Upon arrival at LML, the field crew assembles all necessary gear, electronically checks into the park, and then piles into the truck. As we cruise up Highway 1 the sky begins to lighten, gradually revealing the charming California coast while the truck buzzes with conversation.
Twenty minutes later the truck pulls into the entrance of Año Nuevo and turns right down the limited access road. The progression is slow as we carefully survey the dirt road for endangered San Francisco garter snakes. I take this opportunity to observe the magnificent landscape, hoping to catch a glimpse of deer, coyotes, bobcats, or the elusive cougar. Alas, no such luck today. Instead, I admire the soft glow of the early morning light and the captivating shades of pink and orange spilling across the sky, signaling the eminent arrival of the sun. I feel excitement start to build as we park the truck.
Will Fennie in the field collecting data. Photo Source: Will Fennie
Whether it be out in the field or inside the lab, conducting research is often what people imagine as the highlight of science. However, once that research is completed, then what? For many scientists, it’s the impact of their research that is viewed as a true career highlight. MLML alum, Will Fennie, had his first taste of this success when research from his Master’s thesis contributed to a well-publicized paper on juvenile rockfish and ocean acidification.
For this study, Dr. Scott Hamilton, professor of Ichthyology at MLML, served as first author and his student, Will Fennie, served as third author. Continue reading
Today’s post was provided by San Jose State student Olivia Townsend. Olivia is currently attending Moss Landing as an auxiliary student in MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles. Lucky for us (!), she is also an amazing artist, and in keeping with our mission of interdisciplinary collaboration she has written this piece about scientific illustration and its role in supplementing traditional scientific observations.
Art and science. Conventional thought places these two fields on opposite ends of the
spectrum and some people still polarize them today. Science is data-driven and technical,
while art is expressive and compelled by emotion. In fact, the process that happens in the
laboratory is very similar to what happens in the studio. Both scientists and artists are
investigators—they ask the big questions, scrutinize over detail, and strive to convey
information and ideas. Moreover, art and science have a profound and historically rooted
connection in which one undoubtedly cannot exist without the other.