Posts Tagged ‘education’

The Success of Open House 2014

May 10, 2014

By Melissa Nehmens PSRC

This past weekend, Moss Landing Marine Labs opened our doors and welcomed everyone to our annual Open House event. For those of you new to Moss Landing traditions (as I am as a first year student), it is an event we hold every year in the Spring that is organized by the student body and hosted by the students, faculty, and staff.

We take Open House as an opportunity to share our research in a fun, yet educational way. Just to name a few exciting activities:  the Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology lab had an invertebrate touch tank where you could see, touch, and learn about all of our interesting local invertebrates.


Graduate students Melinda Wheelock and Emily Schmeltzer, educate visitors about the wonderful world of invertebrates! Photo Credit: Heather Kramp

Graduate students Melinda Wheelock and Emily Schmeltzer, educate visitors about the wonderful world of invertebrates! Photo Credit: Diane Wyse


Whalefest: Not Just a Tale of Whales

February 3, 2014

By Melissa Nehmens, PSRC

Whalefest banner 2014

Whalefest banner 2014

On January 25th and 26th, the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf held its 4th annual Whalefest event to celebrate the migration of grey whales. Thanks to the efforts of fellow Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) student, Kristin Walovich, the PSRC and Friends of Moss Landing Marine Labs, hosted a booth at the event, speaking to attendees and passersby about what Moss Landing Marine Labs is all about!

Table attractions for the PSRC included a dehydrated Mako shark head and shark fin from our museum collection, and an anatomical model of a great white that allows you to see the inside of a shark. An interactive matching game, created by PSRC student Jessica Jang, was another favorite allowing people to test their shark knowledge by matching a shark to its description and name. We also showcased a story done by Central Coast News, interviewing PSRC director, Dave Ebert, about the lab’s role in international shark research.

How well do you know your sharks? PSRC student, Vicky Vasquez, helps a girl figure it out.

How well do you know your sharks? PSRC student, Vicky Vasquez, helps a girl figure it out.


Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2013

By Melissa Nehmens

This time of year offers the chance to provide a romanticized explanation of autumn on the central coast. I could explain how here at Moss Landing the weather is turning colder, the leaves are changing color, and the storm clouds bring a scented promise of the rains to come.  However, we have more important things to discuss: Halloween!

This past weekend was Moss Landing Marine Labs’ annual Halloween Party. Everyone came in costumes and as part of the tradition, each lab or group brought their pumpkin to be judged by the student body in the pumpkin carving contest. Though officially there was only one winner, I think everyone did a great job. What do you think?

assorted pumpkins

Front Desk, Biological Oceanography lab, Shop, and PSRC pumpkins

scuba pumpkin

Scuba Pumpkin


Tidepooling Take Two

October 17, 2013

Wyse_headshotBy Diane WysePhysical Oceanography Lab

Earlier this week, three graduate student volunteers and I ventured to Bay View Academy in Monterey to talk with the fourth grade class about trophic levels and intertidal zonation.  I had the unique opportunity to lead the trip again this year, you can learn about the first iteration of this trip in one of my very first posts for the Drop-In.

Sara Worden, Heather Kramp, Dorota Szuta, and Diane Wyse lead a classroom safety briefing and intertidal lesson. Photo: Erika McPhee-Shaw (2013)

Sara Worden, Heather Kramp, Dorota Szuta, and Diane Wyse lead a classroom safety briefing and intertidal lesson. Photo: Erika McPhee-Shaw (2013)

I volunteered for the trip again this year because it is the sort of educational outreach experience that to me really embodies the spirit of MLML; sharing resources and experiences from multiple labs and teaching in our beautiful marine backyard.  The student volunteers represented the Physical Oceanography Lab, the Phycology Lab (Sara Worden), the Benthic Ecology Lab (Dorota Szuta), and the Ichthyology Lab (Heather Kramp). Another reason I volunteered again? Try passing up an opportunity to geek out science on one of the prettiest beaches in the world.  Yeah, it’s tough to do.

Benthic Ecology Lab student Dorota Szuta teaches a group of fourth grade girls about intertidal invertebrates. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)

Benthic Ecology Lab student Dorota Szuta teaches a group of fourth grade girls about intertidal invertebrates. Photo: Diane Wyse (2013)


New Recruits to Moss Landing

September 7, 2013


by Heather Fulton-Bennett, Phycology Lab

The fall semester has brought the return to classes, gorgeous weather, and most excitingly, a new crop of students to Moss Landing Marine Labs. This year we welcomed 15 new marine scientists to 8 of the labs, and their past adventures and new ideas for theses are inspiring already. Potential thesis projects range from molecular ecology of invertebrates in Indonesia to sediment movement at the head of the Monterey Submarine Canyon to the life history strategies of deep sea sharks.

New students meet for orientation with staff and student body officers

New students meet for orientation with staff and student body officers

Check out the Meet the Students page to see how they came to Moss Landing Marine Labs, and check back as several of the new students will be writing for the Drop-In in the future!


MLML’s small boats coordinator explains the program to the new students during a facilities tour

A Scientist’s Summer

August 1, 2013
Surfs up!

Girls from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Young Women in Science Camp catching a wave at the beach

By Michelle Marraffini

Invertebrate Zoology Lab

It’s that time of year again, summer.  The glorious few months off from classes we graduate students have to catch up of research, work, and sometimes even fun things.   Me and a few of my fellow labmates took some time off from work this past few weeks to play hooky for a cause. We volunteered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Young Women in Science program to help middle school girls in this summer camp monitor the beach for sand crabs and learn how to boogie board.    The camp’s aim is help empower young girls interested in science to be guardians of the ocean.   Many of these girls have never been swimming in the ocean before and we enjoyed showed the girls the fun of splashing in the surf.

Invertebrate Lab student Melinda waiting for a wave.

Invertebrate Lab student Melinda waiting for a wave.

You may remember me talking about this event from last summer, but since it is such a wonderful program I had to post it again.  This year even more women from MLML and MBARIs summer intern program came out to help local girls learn more about the ocean.  We spent half of the day using the scientific method and sampling along a transect to look for sand crabs.  The campers were encouraged to form hypotheses about where the crabs were living and use results to think about larger food webs and ecosystem processes.   After lunch and a safety lesson on currents and waves from the lifeguards, girls rushed towards the ocean with boogie boards in tow ready to conquer this new frontier.  We ran in after them and helped them learn to catch a wave and dive under ones that were too big.

Safety First

Lifeguard explains how to safely dive under a large wave to girls at YWS, they also learned about rip currents and water safety.

This camp is a weeklong and the girls get to do some amazing activities like kayaking the Elkhorn Slough and playing with us in the ocean.  Many of these girls might not otherwise get these experiences so the camp aims to bring them new knowledge of the ocean and coastal environments as well as making science approachable and fun.


Our fearless leader Pamela, also an invertebrate lab student and MBA employee, keeping watch over the girls in the ocean.

Beyond the Obituaries: the shining stars of conservation work

June 17, 2013

Beyond the Obituaries: the shinning stars of conservation work

By Michelle Marraffini
Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab

Coral Reef

Artist illustration of coral reef. Photo from; illustration by Gina Mikel.

Conservation science can sometimes feel like it is all doom and gloom stories with reports of have few of a species are left or what factors may lead a species to go extinct. Dr. Knowlton, a career scientist with the Smithsonian, realized that after attending conferences and taking surveys of conservation scientist, people tend to think of conservation science as a losing business. Nancy Knowlton and her work on a project called “Beyond the Obituaries” is trying to change that image. She highlights stories of groups that make conservation work; they include fishing villages that enact their own Marine Protected Areas, species saved by local activists, protecting turtles and sharks by reducing by-catch, and many more success stories of ocean science. “I felt it was really important to give people a reason to think that there is something you can do” Dr. Knowlton explained when asked about her recent work. By focusing on solutions rather then failures, hopefully she will reassure people that there is still time to save the coral reefs and safeguard marine biodiversity around the world.

Saving the Oceans through positive thinking

Dr. Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian. Saving the oceans through the power of positive thinking. Photo from Smithsonian website

Dr. Knowlton recently gave a seminar at MLML and in an hour inspired many of our students to take a more positive outlook on science. By focusing on the victories and learning what works we can help preserve more of the world’s oceans for the future. So now I am challenging you to listen to Dr. Knowlton’s talk (linked below) and do your small part to save the world’s oceans and inspire those around you to do the same.

You can hear Dr. Knowlton’s “Beyond the Obituaries: Success Stories in Ocean Conservation” on youtube and find more information on their website. She also has a book with National Geographic!

Citizens of the Sea

Citizens of the Sea, National Geographic book by Nancy Knowlton

One woman, one horse, and one dog: A 450-mile adventure!

May 17, 2013

by Angela Szesciorka, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

Warning, this is about horses — terrestrial mammals, yes. But as you may know, cetaceans did come from an ungulate lineage. So settle down kids.

I wanted to tell you all a little bit about my sister’s upcoming epic journey.

On May 25, my sister, Samantha, will embark on a 28-day journey across Nevada on horseback.

Why you ask?

Because no one ever has!

This will be the first solo equestrian ride along the Nevada portion of the American Discovery Trail, the coast-to-coast trail across the United Stated from Point Reyes National Seashore in California to the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware. (more…)

Chronicles of a Curious Beachcomber

February 21, 2013

by Angela Szesciorka, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

A few Sundays ago — Super Bowl Sunday, in fact — I took a three-hour walk along the beach at Fort Ord in Monterey, CA with Don Glasco, a systems engineer and former cartographer.

This wasn’t a leisurely pursuit, but my volunteer service to the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network’s (SIMoN) Coastal Ocean Mammal and Bird Education and Research Surveys, also known as Beach COMBERS.

I meet Don at Fort Ord Dunes State Park in Marina around 9 a.m. After downing the last of my coffee, we head out into the foggy morning.

Don Glasco referring to the almighty bird book to identify an unknown species by its toes. Photo by Angela Szesciorka.

Don Glasco referring to the almighty bird book to identify an unknown species by its toes.


Volunteer Angling with CCFRP

August 29, 2012

Jeff with young-of-the-year Blue Rockfish. Photo courtesy of Starr Lab

By Jeff Christensen, CSU Stanislaus

In 2011, I had the opportunity to participate in a California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) fishing trip.  When I received a message from Andrea Launer, CCFRP Volunteer Coordinator, this spring about the summer data collection schedule, I knew I wanted to go out again and be part of this amazing project.

With one of my classes starting on the first day of sampling, I wasn’t able to make the Monday, August 6th date but I was aboard F/V Caroline at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf before sunrise on Tuesday with hot coffee in hand ready to do some angling.  After a safety briefing by Captain Shorty we headed out along the Monterey coastline as Cannery row began to stir in the light of the pre-dawn sky.  The sea was a bit rough and the wind waves made the trip out to the Point Lobos State Reserve a small adventure in and of itself.

Cheryl Barnes, CCFRP Field Coordinator and MLML graduate student, gave the anglers an amusing briefing about the specifics of the collection protocols of the catch and release program.   In order for this work to be helpful in determining if the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are effective in propagating the species within these areas since their inception in 2007, a variety of anglers were assigned different lures and/ or bait similar to fishing techniques used on guided recreational fishing trips from the area.

By the time Captain Shorty announced over the loud speaker to drop our lines in the water of the first research cell of the day, the rolling waves were already taking its toll on our balance and stomachs. The port side “fish feeding station” was busy early on but as the fog receded, we all got our sea legs and the fishing improved.   The boat as a whole ended up catching and releasing a total of 176 fish from 14 different species, including a 84cm lingcod (Ophiodon elongates) caught by Chris L., fishing next to me.  We must have been in some big fish because not too long after Chris’s lingcod, I hooked another giant fish, I estimated at over 100 cm (due to how hard it was to pull up) but after a perilous fight, the “Big One” got away as it neared the surface.

MLML grad student Katherine Schmidt measures a Lingcod.  Photo courtesy of Starr Lab

While the anglers were pulling up their catch, the scientific staff was busy collecting the fish, measuring them, tagging some, and making sure they were returned to the bottom as soon as possible.  I was thoroughly impressed how each staff member tried to make sure every fish was returned to their home with human stories to tell of their own.  One sea lion, however, was happy to accept a free lingcod h’ordurve as it took a large bite out of an angler’s catch as it was reeled up.  That lingcod, too, was returned to the ocean making a meal for the fish, crab, and sea stars that would finish the work of the sea lion.  The seas were rough as we headed back in and even tossed a few of us out of our seats to the deck (Ouch!).



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