Pitching Oranges in the Name of Science

by Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

One sunny afternoon at the beach in Moss Landing, beachgoers were treated to a tangy surprise. Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw’s Physical Oceanography class made the most of the beautiful weather and nearby beach to observe the effects of alongshore transport in the surf zone.

Physical oceanography students observing wave action on the Monterey Bay. Photo: Jason Adelaars

From the shore, students observed the waves breaking and made predictions about the direction of alongshore transport and where convergent rip currents would occur.

Feeding surfers? Not exactly. Vertebrate Ecology Lab student Emily Golson pitches an orange to observe it move in the surf zone. Photo: Jason Adelaars

How did they test these predictions?  Why, launching citrus into the surf zone, of course!  Members of the class warmed up their pitching arms and threw oranges into the water from the beach.  They observed and discussed where the oranges traveled as a means of visualizing transport of sediment and plankton with the movement of water in the near-shore environment.

Students discuss the movement of the oranges in the surf zone. Photo: Jason Adelaars

Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw launches an orange in the name of science. Photo: Jason Adelaars

Physical Oceanography Teaching Assistant Shandy Buckley (L) discusses alongshore transport with students. Photo: Jason Adelaars

This entry was posted in What's Happening at MLML, Why Science Rocks! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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