Environmental Changes are Influencing Individuals, Not Just Populations

Written by San Jose State University graduate student, Abram Fleishman.

Each December my news feeds, from Facebook and Twitter to professional listservs and
mainstream news sources, are inundated by a flood of stories about one bird. Not one
species of bird, but actually a single individual living on one of the most remote islands in one of the most remote archipelagos in the world. A bird that if it was not beautiful, elegant, and most of all old, no one would care about.


Wisdom preens her freshly-hatched chick on Midway Atoll. (Photo: Naomi Blinick)

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Life on the beach: My first field season as an elephant seal researcher

Third installment of the blog series by students enrolled in MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles with faculty member Dr. Gitte McDonald. 

By Kate High, SJSU undergraduate taking classes at MLML


Mel re-sighting elephant seals. Photo source: Kate High


Interning in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratory this past year has given me countless opportunities to participate in activities most undergraduate students at SJSU might not know exist. I began training for elephant seal research at Año Nuevo State Park at the beginning of January. Even though I’ve had a lot of field experience, I can honestly say I have never been more nervous about a field day in my life. Continue reading

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A Day In the Life of an Elephant Seal Biologist at Año Nuevo State Park

(Today, we have another post courtesy of MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles, this time from Moss Landing student and author Jenni Johnson. She is going to talk about the hectic but rewarding work involved in elephant seal research at Año Nuevo State Park.)

BEEP! BEEP! I roll over to turn off my alarm and read the clock: 4:30 a.m. Begrudgingly I arise, slip into my field clothes, and head to the kitchen to make breakfast before beginning the forty-five minute commute to Long Marine Lab (LML). As I drive north, I mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. Today our focus is assisting with the annual weanling weighing effort. Upon arrival at LML, the field crew assembles all necessary gear, electronically checks into the park, and then piles into the truck. As we cruise up Highway 1 the sky begins to lighten, gradually revealing the charming California coast while the truck buzzes with conversation.

Version 2

Twenty minutes later the truck pulls into the entrance of Año Nuevo and turns right down the limited access road. The progression is slow as we carefully survey the dirt road for endangered San Francisco garter snakes. I take this opportunity to observe the magnificent landscape, hoping to catch a glimpse of deer, coyotes, bobcats, or the elusive cougar. Alas, no such luck today. Instead, I admire the soft glow of the early morning light and the captivating shades of pink and orange spilling across the sky, signaling the eminent arrival of the sun. I feel excitement start to build as we park the truck.

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MLML Students at the Forefront of Marine Science: Will Fennie, Ichthyology Lab


Will Fennie in the field collecting data. Photo Source: Will Fennie

Whether it be out in the field or inside the lab, conducting research is often what people imagine as the highlight of science. However, once that research is completed, then what? For many scientists, it’s the impact of their research that is viewed as a true career highlight. MLML alum, Will Fennie, had his first taste of this success when research from his Master’s thesis contributed to a well-publicized paper on juvenile rockfish and ocean acidification.

Species-Specific Responses of Juvenile Rockfish to Elevated pCO2: From Behavior to Genomics

For this study, Dr. Scott Hamilton, professor of Ichthyology at MLML, served as first author and his student, Will Fennie, served as third author. Continue reading

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Art and Science: A Symbiotic Relationship

Today’s post was provided by San Jose State student Olivia Townsend. Olivia is currently attending Moss Landing as an auxiliary student in MS 211: Ecology of Marine Mammals, Birds and Turtles. Lucky for us (!), she is also an amazing artist, and in keeping with our mission of interdisciplinary collaboration she has written this piece about scientific illustration and its role in supplementing traditional scientific observations.


Art and science. Conventional thought places these two fields on opposite ends of the
spectrum and some people still polarize them today. Science is data-driven and technical,
while art is expressive and compelled by emotion. In fact, the process that happens in the
laboratory is very similar to what happens in the studio. Both scientists and artists are
investigators—they ask the big questions, scrutinize over detail, and strive to convey
information and ideas. Moreover, art and science have a profound and historically rooted
connection in which one undoubtedly cannot exist without the other.

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Finding the Pearls of Wisdom in a Sea of Scientific Misinformation


Image Source: MLML WordPress

Trying to navigate the murky waters of credible marine science can leave knowledge-seekers feeling lost at sea. Like a beacon of light guiding seafarers, scientists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) have been discussing their best on-line sources for accurate information. Those recommendations have now been compiled into three groups of credible marine science sources with the following social media abbreviations: Instagram (IG), Facebook (FB), YouTube (YT) & Twitter (TW):

1) MLML: We’re starting things off with a comprehensive list of all our sources. Continue reading

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Stepping up to the Plate

When I originally conceived of this post 2 months ago I thought it would be a reflection of my experiences presenting my research at a major science conference for the first time.

It has since morphed into something else.

The third week of December I joined 20,000 of my colleagues in


AGU was held at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco

the Earth Sciences at the 2016 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. I was one of around 8,000 students who arrived in San Francisco to present one of the 15,000 posters that would be displayed over the course of the week. It’s hard to describe the emotions of a graduate student attending their first conference. Its how I imagine a promising pitcher feels when they walk into a big league locker room after having been called up from the minors. They have left the relative comfort of the minor leagues, and are now face to face with their idols, the people they have admired in their profession from afar, never thinking it possible that they could one day compete on that level. They must ask themselves: “am I good enough to be here?”

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