Another spectacular Western Society of Naturalists conference came and went last month. For those of you who aren’t familiar, WSN is a fun-packed, scientific society that focuses on ecology, evolution, natural history, and marine biology. This year marked the 96th annual meeting which was held in Sacramento and had the largest turnout to date! It seems the attendance at WSN grows every year and it’s really not surprising. The annual conference attracts scientists, not just from the west coast, but from all over the world. This year, there were even a few students all the way from New Zealand giving presentations. The conference is packed with like-minded individuals eager to learn and present new ideas.
Posts Tagged ‘education’
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.
By Melissa Nehmens, PSRC
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Beyond the Obituaries: the shinning stars of conservation work
By Michelle Marraffini
Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab
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.
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!
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…)
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.