Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Big Backyard Bloom: The Domoic Acid Event of the Decade in Monterey Bay

June 1, 2015
 ECOHAB crew members Zachary Epperson and Steven Loiacono get ready to deploy the new MLML CTD rosette. Photo credit: Dr. Jason Smith.

ECOHAB crew members Zachary Epperson and Steven Loiacono get ready to deploy the new MLML CTD rosette. Photo credit: Dr. Jason Smith.

 

 

 

 

This guest post is written by Zachary Epperson whom is a graduate student at MLML and works with the Environmental Biotechnology Lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few weeks, several marine mammals, particularly sea lions, have been exhibiting some haunting symptoms: writhing on the beach, bending back their necks, or lying suspiciously motionless. As the NOAA-NCCOS-funded, collaborative (MLML, UCSC, MBARI, USC, SCCWRP, UCLA, and IOOS) Ecology & Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) project gears up for its third week of sampling, data-armed scientists are ready with an explanation—toxic algae. Along with an armada of robotic labs and water quality surveillance vehicles roaming the bay, this field effort provides higher temporal and spatial resolution than our weekly shore based monitoring, which detected initiation of a mixed species Pseudo-nitzschia bloom in April (http://oceandatacenter.ucsc.edu/PhytoBlog/).

The diatom Pseudo-nitzschia spp. is known to produce the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA), responsible for cases of domoic acid poisoning (DAP, also known as amnesic shellfish poisoning), when contaminated tissue is consumed in high enough quantities. Symptoms of DAP may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness; in severe cases the victim may experience difficulty breathing, confusion, disorientation, seizures, permanent loss of short‑term memory, coma and death. For this reason, recreational harvesting of shellfish is usually quarantined from about late April to Halloween.

A light microscope slide from a phytoplankton tow containing Pseudo-nitzschia chains. Photo credit: USCS-Kudela Lab.

A light microscope slide from a phytoplankton tow containing Pseudo-nitzschia chains. Photo credit: USCS-Kudela Lab.

Though a spring bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia is typical, what’s surprising this year is the total DA load. According to Dr. Raphe Kudela (UCSC) levels this high haven’t been seen since the year 2000! And ECOHAB is out there to track it. (more…)

Tales from the Field in Antarctica: Post 3

May 18, 2015
In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team's blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team’s blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

Dr. Valerie Loeb is an adjunct professor at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Currently, she functions as an independent Antarctic ecosystem research scientist collaborating with Jarrod Santora of UC Santa Cruz. In April, she headed out to sea with a new NSF funded project entitled “Pilot Study:   Addition of Biological Sampling to Drake Passage Transits of the ‘LM Gould'”.  The following are updates from the field by Jamie Sibley Yin who is in charge of communications.

The Third Entry by Jamie Sibley Yin

April 19th, 2015

Palmer Station and Ice Fish Project

A view of the Lawrence M. Gould (our ship) and Palmer Station.

A view of the Lawrence M. Gould (our ship) and Palmer Station.

When I woke up it was hard to believe we were in the same ocean as last night.  The water was glassy and glaciers cut with snow-capped black rock towered on either side of us.  We were due at Palmer Station in less than an hour.  Palmer was the final destination for some folks—but not us.  We were going with the ship, wherever she went.  (more…)

Tales from the Field in Antarctica: Post 2

May 4, 2015
In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team's blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team’s blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

 

Dr. Valerie Loeb is an adjunct professor at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Currently, she functions as an independent Antarctic ecosystem research scientist collaborating with Jarrod Santora of UC Santa Cruz. In April, she headed out to sea with a new NSF funded project entitled “Pilot Study:   Addition of Biological Sampling to Drake Passage Transits of the ‘LM Gould'”.  The following are updates from the field by Jamie Sibley Yin who is in charge of communications.

 

 

 

The Second Entry by Jamie Sibley Yin

April 9th, 2015

Northern Drake Passage

 

Checking out one of the critters with the microscope.

Checking out one of the critters with the microscope.

Our first net tow scheduled for 2am was cancelled.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was nervous about sorting and identifying species of zooplankton I had never seen before, staying up late into the night, and working with no end in sight.  (more…)

Tales from the Field in Antarctica: Post 1

April 20, 2015
In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team's blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

In the field for their current work in Antarctica is adjunct professor, Dr. Valerie Loeb (right) with the team’s blog writer, Jamie Sibley Yin.

Dr. Valerie Loeb is an adjunct professor at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Currently, she functions as an independent Antarctic ecosystem research scientist collaborating with Jarrod Santora of UC Santa Cruz. In April, she headed out to sea with a new NSF funded project entitled “Pilot Study:   Addition of Biological Sampling to Drake Passage Transits of the ‘LM Gould'”.  The following are updates from the field by Jamie Sibley Yin who is in charge of communications.

The First Entry by Jamie Sibley Yin

April 8th, 2015

My chair sways gently, a jackhammer-like sound comes from an undisclosed location, men with white beards and black wire rimmed glasses stare into their laptops.  Where am I? I’m somewhere in the Straits of Magellan, en route to Antarctica.

(more…)

Marine and Green

March 17, 2015

By Jackie Lindsey, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all the critters wearing green under the sea!

Florida manatee (Photo by Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Photo by Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

(more…)

Are you a Friend of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories?

March 4, 2015

It’s true that many people in the Monterey Bay area are “friends” of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in some way or another. Maybe they are alumni or maybe a current MLML student tutors their child. However, there is a Friends of MLML organization that has been around since 1994. This organization has been serving the lab by garnering support from the local community, fundraising for student scholarships, and connecting MLML to the community through outreach and events for more than 10 years.

Lucky winners of the student scholarships.

Lucky winners of the student scholarships.

What does it mean to be a Friend of MLML? Aside from the gratification of knowing your support is helping fuel student scholarships and general lab activities, there are also some great benefits!

For one, all Friends of MLML receive the MLML Wave magazine. The lab is constantly busy in novel scientific discoveries and events and there is always a lot going on. This is a great way to keep up

1_2014 August Cover

The latest issue of the Wave magazine

Friends of MLML are invited to attend exclusive Friends tours of the MLML facility lead by students, to get a firsthand look at our beautiful facility.

A student lead Tour through MLML

            A student led tour through MLML

Another perk of being a Friend of MLML is a mailed invitation to each of our Evening Community Lectures which feature local scientists eager to share their research with the general public. Previous topics have included saving trapped gray whales working with white sharks, and even voyages to Antarctica. These events are open to anyone wanting to learn and they are free for Friends of MLML. For those attending who are not Friends of MLML, the recommended donation is only $8.

2015_02_11 Bone Eating Worms flyer

A glimpse of the most recent Evening Community Lecture

Click here if you’re interested in becoming a Friend of MLML or email Friends@mlml.calstate.edu if you have any further questions.We hope to see you around!

Ichthyology, the R/V Point Sur, and McDonalds

February 22, 2015

There are few times that I would willingly wake up while it is still dark outside. The day of our ichthyology field trip aboard the R/V Point Sur was one of those days. Not only would it be my first time aboard the Point Sur, it would also be my last before its retirement after 28 years of service at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Suffice to say, I was pretty excited to have this opportunity.

The R/V Point Sur

(more…)

SCUBA, it’s to dive for!

December 23, 2014

Imagine you are a scientist about to begin researching the density of a type of Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. Let’s pretend you have already spent hours and hours doing the background research necessary and now you are tasked with collecting the data. You create a list of all the tools you’ll need; meter tape, data sheets, flagging tape etc, and now you’re ready to go into the field to sample. A quick drive up to northern California will put you right in the middle of the Redwood forest where you can easily collect your data. Now picture that your next project is to collect the density of blue rockfish, Sebastes mystinus. It sounds pretty similar to your previous study but with an added challenge; your site is underwater. This added challenge will require a completely different method to collect your data. You’ll need to actually see these rockfish in order to count them, but how?

(more…)

Things that go “bump” in the ocean

December 17, 2014

Jackie Lindsey

by Jackie Lindsey, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

When Jacques-Yves Cousteau gave the world its first video footage of the ocean in color, he named this documentary The Silent World.  Perhaps as a result, most of us think of the ocean as a quiet refuge, punctuated by occasional humpback whale songs or clicks from a passing pod of dolphins.  In recent years, scientists have dipped microphones into the water and discovered that this could not be further from the truth. (more…)

Survivor: Ocean edition

May 30, 2014

Two weeks ago, my fellow labmate Jessica Jang and I headed to Newport, Oregon to learn how to survive the high seas in preparation for some trawls in which we will be participating later on this year. The FRAMD trawls (Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Divison), associated with NOAA Fisheries, survey groundfish along the Western US coast, collecting age (using otoliths), sex, and length information on 90 groundfish species, as well as more limited information on other species collected in trawls, and more detailed information for scientists conducting special projects. Students in our lab (Pacific Shark Research Center) have, in the past, gathered specimens and data from these trawls for their thesis projects, and both Jessica and I are hoping to collect specimens for our own theses.

We arrived in Portland, and first made a pitstop to obtain some good food and the famed Voodoo Donuts. At the time, I didn’t realize I would be eating donuts nonstop for the next 4 days. We then drove to Newport, only getting lost a few times…

Voodoo Donuts!

Voodoo Donuts!

The next day, we started off the day with some extreme videos of ships crashing and sinking, then had some lectures about safety, which emphasized the main objective of the course: develop the will to survive! Being prepared for the situation, being able to stay calm and respond efficiently to any circumstances that might arise, and knowing when to abandon ship would strongly enhance our chance of survival.

Next, we went outside, where the Coast Guard taught us about the balance and period of a ship’s roll, and then showed us how to pump water out of a boat in the case of a flood. We took turns in their special training trailer, which was filled with leaky pipes and crevices that would begin spouting water at any given moment. I was Captain of my boat, and gave the Mayday! call to the Coast Guard while communicating with my crew members, whose job it was to plug the leaks with rubber wrapping, pieces of neoprene, and variably-shaped wooden wedges.

US Coast Guard setting up the pump

US Coast Guard setting up the pump

Using wedges to fill a pump

Using wedges to fill a pump

Water!!

Water!!

Later that day, we took our only test – unwrap and don our immersion (or survival, or gumby) suits within 60-seconds, which required multiple rounds of practice. The hardest part was doing anything that required fine motor skills (like zipping up the suit) with your fingers in a giant inflexible glove/ mitten. Some of us also tried the 60-s test in darkness, which was a whole other challenge. Although I wasn’t the suit’s biggest fan during the training, I came to appreciate it when we entered the water in our suits the next day (really toasty and kept me dry!), and understood how important it would be in the case of an actual sea emergency.

Me in my immersion suit

Donning my trendy suit

Later in the day we put out some fires (set on a grill), learning to work in a team and stay low to the ground, and tested some expired signal flares, one of which lit up the sky with orange smoke.

Jessica and I putting out a dangerous fire

Jessica and I putting out a dangerous fire

Handheld flares

Handheld flares

Orange smoke flare

Effective orange smoke flare

The following day, we had some role-playing drills, one person in each group being selected to fall overboard, while the other teammates worked on communicating with the Captain, Coast Guard, and each other to make sure the person was safely rescued. A second drill started out with a fire (which was hidden somewhere, represented by a glowstick, and simulated with a smoke machine), and quickly escalated into an abandon ship procedure. We had to grab the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which is one of the most important pieces of equipment during an emergency, sending a signal to the Coast Guard alerting them of its position), a box of signal flares, and deploy the life raft, then hop into a demonstration raft.

The gap between the ship and water was substantial – but somehow everyone succeeded! Unfortunately, I lost both my team’s EPIRB and flares when I turned my back on them to get into my survival suit and a “rogue wave” (aka Dan, one of our instructors) swept them away. Both our teams got Bs for the day, but we did successfully get off the ship and “survive”!

FIRE!

FIRE!

Graceful leap into the life raft

Jessica’s graceful leap into the life raft

Dan, the rogue wave, holding the EPIRB and flares

Dan, the rogue wave, holding the EPIRB and flares

After the demo, we went into the water in our suits, and practiced our safety positions (in case we were being located by helicopter or other boats), and each practiced overturning the life raft in case it deployed incorrectly.

On the final day, we had biological training. We learned about the high-tech equipment we would use out at sea (magnetic strips would send the lengths of the fish to a computer, instead of us having to read and manually record each measurement), the giant multi-ton hauls we would potentially recover (which could supposedly include anything from military and medical waste to fully packed suitcases to sheep and cats), the species we would likely observe (rockfish, chimaeras, skates, urchins, flatfish, sea stars, squid), and then practiced sorting, sexing, and taking otoliths out of a sample of a discarded haul.

Special scale

High-tech fish scale

Fish about to be sorted

Fish about to be sorted

After a long 3 days, we enjoyed some fresh seafood with some fellow scientist-survivors and said goodbye to the beach, knowing that this was only a gentle preview for what was to come in the open ocean. Jessica is currently at sea, traveling in Washington and Oregon, and I won’t be deploying until October – hopefully these survival skills will stick until then!

 


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