Habitat Mapping: The Fate of Wetlands at the Moss Landing Wildlife Area in Elkhorn Slough

We are back to covering class projects from Habitat Mapping this week. Julia Karo and Monica Appiano (“The Ladies”) will walk us through their study of marshland growth in Elkhorn Slough. Recently designated a Wetland of International Importance, the Slough supports the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay.  Currently, a $6.5 million, 61-acre tidal wetland project is restoring drowning marshes to elevations that will better withstand changes in sea level in the coming century.


Photo credit: ESNERR

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Posted in Classes, Grad Life, oceanography, Oh, the Places We Go!, Research: Fresh from the Field, Tales from the Classroom | Leave a comment

¡Saludos desde Chile y Global Kelp Systems!

We’re going to take a brief break from highlighting the Habitat Mapping class’s work to talk about another class that just returned from the field: the Global Kelp Systems course held in Las Cruces, Chile!

Every other year, a small group of students have made the journey south to study kelp forests in the lower latitudes. Kelp forests are found throughout the world –although the dominant species may differ– but the research that comes out of each region often fails to link each system together. Or worse, findings from one part of the world will be applied broadly to all kelp forests, despite the huge differences in local conditions.


This figure from one of our lecture slides shows the global distribution of kelps –a specific type of large, brown algae– and highlights the different groups that are most common. In Monterey, for example, the forest-forming kelp we see is Macrocystis. As you can see, there is a lot of diversity! (Photo: Mike Graham)

We’ll have a blog specifically discussing the differences between the kelp forests of California and those of Chile in the next few weeks –courtesy of Phycology lab student Ann Bishop– but for this post we wanted to discuss what we actually did during the class.

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Habitat Mapping: Marcel, Miya, & the Multibeam


Marcel and Miya troubleshooting the M3.

Blog Post Authors:

Miya Pavlock McAuliffe of the Physical Oceanography lab

Marcel Peliks of the Geological Oceanography lab




As a part of our Habitat Mapping Class this semester we undertook the mission of learning the ins and outs of seafloor mapping theory and practice to make our new Kongsberg M3 Multibeam system work. The M3 is a seafloor mapping system that has excited a lot of folks at MLML with its potential to collect geological, physical, and even biological data beneath the surface of the water. It depends upon many sensors as well as software, and right off the bat we would like to thank QPS for donating us a license to QINSY for data acquisition and Qimera for data processing! Another part of this project involved entering a National Geographic competition…which we’ll revisit later in this post.

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Habitat Mapping: Changes in Dune and Beach Morphology on the Central Monterey Bay Coast from 2015 to 2018



Blog Post Authors:

Victoria Dickey of the Geological Oceanography lab.

Amelia Labbe (not pictured).





A beautiful day to survey! (Amelia Labbe)

Dunes are essential to protecting our low-lying coastal communities and agriculture fields here in Monterey from storms, waves, and erosion. The beautiful slopes of these beach dunes are naturally controlled by the wind and the waves. The dunes that we see here are blanketed by green and red ice plant. Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) was introduced in the early 1900s to stabilize the naturally shifting dunes, but scientists now think that it may actually increase erosion. Continue reading

Posted in Classes, Fieldwork, Grad Life, oceanography, Oh, the Places We Go!, Research: Fresh from the Field, Tales from the Classroom | Leave a comment

Congratulations to the 3 students that defended in Fall 2018!

By June ShresthaIchthyology Lab.

Please join me in congratulating the three masters students that defended their thesis research this fall!

  • Laurel Lam, Ichthyology
  • Alex Olson, Chemical Oceanography
  • Holly Chiswell, Chemical Oceanography

Read below to learn the main take-aways of their research!

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The Search for Clean, Green Energy in the Cosmic Center of the Universe




Katie Graves is a graduate student with our Chemical Oceanography lab. Katie’s field work for her thesis occurs in Elkhorn Slough. 





It is generally well known that our planet’s fossil fuel reserves are being used up at an alarming rate. Recent studies suggest that we should transition to using renewable energy by 2030 to ensure a smooth switch from fossil fuel dependence [1].

What isn’t as well known is that the answer to producing clean, sustainable energy is closer than we think. In fact, if you live in the area of Elkhorn Slough you might see the solution as you drive over the HWY 1 bridge and notice the water is covered in a green carpet. Continue reading

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Survey Like a BOSS: A few highlights from a month at sea testing the Benthic Observation Survey System



Ryan Fields serves as lab technician to the Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab (FCB lab), where he also studied for his Master’s degree. As a technician Ryan continues to participate in lab projects that include California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program and the development of new video lander tools to improve fisheries management of Pacific rocky reefs.



Leaving port to launch the Benthic Observation Survey System (BOSS) on a series of deep-in water surveys. Pictured: Ryan Field on the right, Jimmy Williamson (Ryan’s labmate) below, and Rachel Brooks (student in Ichthyology lab) on the left. 

This October, the Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab completed a month-long research cruise along the California coast testing a new video camera tool designed to survey fishes. This was both a fantastic project and trip, and I want to share a few highlights from video we collected. The main goal of this project was to design, build, and demonstrate the feasibility of deploying a video lander tool at a scale that is useful for fisheries management agencies (i.e. a coastwide survey). We were very successful in meeting this first goal, and in 24 days we conducted 419 visual surveys across 295 miles of coastline between Half Moon Bay and Anacapa Island.

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Posted in Cool Creatures, Fisheries, Oh, the Places We Go!, Research: Fresh from the Field, Research: Live from the Labs, Sustainability, What's Happening at MLML | Leave a comment