By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab
In a day that some might describe as “the ideal lab experience,” four Moss Landing students set out to perform water sampling techniques for their chemical oceanography class, and enjoyed a day filled with surprises and adventure on the Monterey Bay. Those students, from the phycology, physical, and biological oceanography labs, took MLML’s “Hurricane” Zodiac boat out to nine sites around the bay to collect seawater. Along with two other groups that explored sections of Elkhorn Slough, the sampling effort was a snapshot of the concentration of silica in the surface waters of the bay and slough.
The day began with a lesson on instrumentation for determining temperature and salinity at each collection site.
En route to one of the sampling sites, phycology lab student, experienced boat driver, and keen marine mammal spotter Mike Fox caught sight of a pod of over 50 dolphins! As the boat slowly approached, a handful of the common dolphins gracefully whizzed along by the boat and gave the delighted marine science students quite a show.
Not to be outdone by playful charismatic megafauna, Mike and the team of oceanography students spotted a patch of Nereocystis luetkeana, otherwise known as bullkelp. During a brief seaweed sampling side project, Mike held up a blade to explain how the spores on the blade of the bullkelp release by tearing off to facilitate reproduction.
The crew smoothly cruised over the big, rolling swell to return and process their samples in the lab. It was a field trip the students wont soon forget, it certainly was not just another day on the bay.