Fish out of water

Recent graduate, Jackie Schwartzstein, recounts the intensive safety training to prepare for field work at sea.

The Drop-In Blog @ Moss Landing Marine Labs


by Jackie Schwartzstein, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

Last weekend, my fellow Vert-Lab-member Angie and I hopped in my little car and made the four hour drive down to Carpinteria, CA for offshore survival training.  We are preparing to join a research team that conducts aerial surveys for marine turtles and mammals along the central California coast.  Before we can participate in these surveys, we are required to take a course in open water survival.


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Adventures in Phycology

What’s in store for students enrolled in MLML courses? Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse with this re-blog by recent graduate Heather Fulton Bennett, who is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Oregon State University.

The Drop-In Blog @ Moss Landing Marine Labs


by Heather Fulton-Bennett, Phycology Lab

One of the best parts of classes at Moss Landing Marine Labs, are the field trips. The Biology of Seaweeds class makes numerous trips around the Monterey Bay area to examine different algal habitats and to learn more about the ecological niches of algae in the intertidal. Every year, Professor Mike Graham, leads the phycology class on a trip south of Point Conception to discover the similarities and differences in southern California algae. This year we camped at El Capitan State Beach and enjoyed some beach combing, s’mores, and late night Phyctionary, where we attempted to illustrate terms related to seaweeds.

Our teaching assistant, Sarah Jeffries, Professor Mike Graham, and phycology student Bobby San Miguel examine one of the boulders still visible above the sand. Our teaching assistant, Sarah Jeffries, Dr. Mike Graham, and phycology student Bobby San Miguel examine one of the boulders still visible above the sand.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn chasing a very low tide to Coal Oil…

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Invertebrate Spotlight: Christmas Tree Worms

Here’s a festive re-blog written by Catherine Drake who recently defended her Master’s thesis this Fall at MLML.

The Drop-In Blog @ Moss Landing Marine Labs

By Catherine Drake, Invertebrate Zoology Lab

For those of you vertebrates who still have their holiday decorations up, here is an invertebrate you might enjoy learning about: the Christmas tree worm.  These polychaetes, Spirobranchus giganteus, are tube-building worms that have two “crowns” in the shape of Christmas trees, hence their name.

Many Christmas tree worms assembled together.

These appendages are an extension of their mouth and catch prey that swims by and then transport it by cilia to the worm’s mouth.  Additionally, the appendages act as part of the worm’s respiratory system, and are thus commonly referred to as gills.  Christmas tree worms are generally found in tropical waters and live within corals in calcareous tubes formed by the worms.

The appendages on these polycheates aid in the catching of prey.

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Class Cruisin’

There are days that change you. One minute you are chasing what you thought was your dream, and then something comes along that changes your trajectory. Those days are rare, and can come to define one’s entire purpose in life.

For me that day was my first day at sea, working to unravel it’s mysteries aboard the R/V Pt. Sur. I had fallen in love with the ocean before, and knew that I wanted to become a scientist, but that day would come to change just exactly what aspect of Marine Science would become my life’s pursuit. Continue reading

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The 100th Year of the Western Society of Naturalists

WSN 2016 Conference

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Western Society of Naturalists (WSN) meeting as well as the 50th for Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). Fittingly, this year’s WSN conference saw MLML emeritus professor, Dr. Michael Foster, receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for crucial work studying the population and community ecology of marine macroalgae.

Six of MLML’s specified laboratories were represented by students, past and present, as well as one faculty member at this year’s WSN conference. A total of 21 presentations were given with 10 being oral presentations and 11 being posters; 11 MLML alumni presented, 12 current students and 1 faculty member. They Phycology and Invetebrate labs led the pack with the most presentations. Below is a list of highlights from those presentations.


MLML faculty along with students, past & present, taking a group photo with Lifetime Achievement Award winner Mike Foster. (Photo Source: Heather Kramp).

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Micro is King

Hello dear readers. We realize things have been a bit scant lately here at the Drop In, but summer = field season and so many of us at Moss Landing Marine Labs have been off to the far corners of the globe tracking down some serious science. We hope you can forgive us, because what it means for you is a ton of great new content on the horizon!


A little preview. Is it a fly or a walrus? Who knows? (We do) Photo: Elizabeth Ramsay

First off, we’d like to invite you over to our new website, Microcosms, designed as part of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) class being offered this fall. Microcosms will use SEM technology to turn the lens on the tiny. If you’ve ever wondered about the texture of a shark’s skin, or how sand from one beach might differ from another (and who hasn’t?), it will be a great resource. Our professor, Ivano Aiello, recently wrote a post on our anniversary blog explaining the history of SEM usage here at Moss Landing. As he explains

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Support ‘Lost’ Shark Research this SharkWeek

The diversity of sharks, rays, skates and ghost sharks has increased exponentially with nearly 20% of all new species described over the past decade.

Unfortunately, the majority of these sharks and their relatives have largely been “lost” in a hyper-driven media age whereby a few large charismatic shark mega-stars overshadow the majority of shark species, especially during SharkWeek!

While these mega-star’s, such the Great White Shark, receive much media adulation and are the focus of numerous conservation and scientific efforts, the “Lost Sharks” remain largely unknown not only to the public, but also to the scientific and conservation communities.

Please help MLML’s Pacific Shark Research Center to discover and name these ‘Lost Shark’ species. Our campaign is raising funds to do just that.

Check out the video about our project to learn more. Thanks to the support of so many, we have almost met our goal of raising $2,800. Any donation helps!

As a bonus, anyone who donates $100 receives a limited edition print of a new species of ghost shark recently described by the PSRC by world-renowned artist Marc Dando.

Thank you for supporting shark science!

marc dando blueshark

Marc Dando’s amazing illustrations were featured in the book Sharks of the World.

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