Summer in Moss Landing

HFBby Heather Fulton-Bennett, Phycology Lab

Q: What do grad students do during the summer?

A: Thesis! Work! Everything!

We are lucky enough to be at the center of the Monterey Bay, and summers are the perfect time to take advantage of the large marine research community in the area.


Heading out of Moss Landing early on an unusually sunny morning. Photo: Heather Fulton-Bennett/MBARI 2013

This summer I am working as an intern at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), just across the water from Moss Landing Marine Labs in Moss Landing. MBARI’s research focuses on the development and use of marine technology as well as the exploration and monitoring of the ocean. As an intern there, I am working with Drs. Jim Bellingham and Julio Harvey on correlating optical measurements of zooplankton with molecular methods in the laboratory. These measurements will allow us to have a better understanding of the data sent back from in situ instruments as well as giving a better idea of the effects of confounding factors in both the optical and molecular measurements.

In the few weeks I’ve been here, there have been a lot of familiar faces around MBARI. Several other MLML students are taking advantage of MBARI’s facilities to work on projects related to their these, including a couple of my fellow interns, Vignesh Soundararajan and Diane Wyse, who are working with Francisco Chavez and Jim Bellingham respectively.


The R/V Rachel Carson with a few of MBARI’s interns: Larissa, Miguel, Nettie, Kendra, and myself. Photo: Heather Fulton-Bennett/MBARI 2013

All the technicalities of the work aside, one of the best parts of working at MBARI is getting to go out on research cruises. MBARI has two large ships, the Western Flyer, which goes out for weeks or months at a time, and the Rachel Carson, which hosts the daily cruises out of Moss Landing.

Myself and four other interns were able to join a cruise with Dr. Jim Barry’s lab deploying several instruments, as well as collecting urchins (Allocentrotus fragilis) with the ROV Ventana for experiments involving ocean acidification.


Collecting the fragile urchin, Allocentrotus fragilis near a resting rock fish, Sebastes sp. Photo: Heather Fulton-Bennett/MBARI 2013

As part of my time on the cruise, I conducted net tows to collect zooplankton. I had hoped to isolate several organisms from these tows to run molecular analyses on, however the taxa I had wanted were absent from the samples.


Collecting zooplankton in a small net with MBARI Research Technician Patrick Whaling. Photo: Larissa Clary/MBARI 2013

Unfortunate, but it just means I’ll have to go out on the Rachel Carson again sometime.


The R/V Rachel Carson heading home after a sunny and successful cruise with the ROV Ventana safely on deck. Photo: Heather Fulton-Bennett/MBARI 2013

I’m looking forward to many more adventures this summer, both with my internship at MBARI and my thesis research at MLML.

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2 Responses to Summer in Moss Landing

  1. Angie says:

    Thanks for the updates, Diane. Looks like a lot of fun!!


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