Imagine you are a scientist about to begin researching the density of a type of Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. Let’s pretend you have already spent hours and hours doing the background research necessary and now you are tasked with collecting the data. You create a list of all the tools you’ll need; meter tape, data sheets, flagging tape etc, and now you’re ready to go into the field to sample. A quick drive up to northern California will put you right in the middle of the Redwood forest where you can easily collect your data. Now picture that your next project is to collect the density of blue rockfish, Sebastes mystinus. It sounds pretty similar to your previous study but with an added challenge; your site is underwater. This added challenge will require a completely different method to collect your data. You’ll need to actually see these rockfish in order to count them, but how?
Posts Tagged ‘Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’
One of the great things about being a student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is going diving with your fellow students. You get to see what they are studying and hopefully get some good karma or pay them back for helping you out. I was able to get back in the water after a couple months of drying up on land and dive with Devona Yates.
She is interested in predator-prey relationships and how predatory fishes can have cascading effects on lower trophic levels as they consume invertebrate prey. This cascading effect may differ inside and outside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), as it appears MPAs may have different, larger, and more abundant predatory fish. Devona is using tethering and survey methods to quantify mortality of these invertebrates and how that may vary as a function of MPA status. It will be interesting and exciting to look at these MPA effects on the survival of these important prey sources for fishes. We use MPAs as a way to protect and increase important ecosystem members we depend on for food and are necessary for maintaining ecosystem function. Predator depletion and recovery may cause changes that were much more complex than we had thought.
By Alex Olson & Holly Chiswell, Chemical Oceanography
On June 5th, members of the Marine Pollutions Studies and Chemical Oceanography Labs under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Coale, began a week-long journey on the R/V Point Sur to investigate the recent findings of mercury in coastal marine fog. Dubbed “The Fog Cruise”, the crew and science party aboard sampled near and offshore waters using oceanographic tools for signs of methylmercury (MeHg), from deep sea sediments to fog above the sea surface. (more…)
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.
It is amazing how many different ways organisms can survive in the ocean. One of the most interesting is the many different strategies to try to get food from the water (filled with phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus (particles of decaying algae and animal material)), from larger algae growing on the bottom, or from the organisms that consume these sources.
We see Kelp Rockfish associating with, surprise…kelp! They eat different crustaceans on the kelp and even eat small year-old rockfish.
This Fish-eating Anemone eats crustaceans and fishes. It would not be pleasant to be captured by one of these and digested slowly!
This Sunflower Star is a surprisingly fast moving predator in the kelp forest. They, like other seastars, extrude their stomach and digest their prey using acids, another not-so-fun way to be eaten.
This beautiful Kelp Greenling male eats different invertebrates and even fishes when they become available.
This lined chiton moves along the bottom scraping the surface, getting foods like coralline algae, detritus (decaying algal and animal material), attached invertebrates, diatoms (algae), red algae, and green algae.
These species are just a preview of what we see each dive around the Monterey Bay area. I am grateful people before us have studied these organisms so we are able to construct food webs to try to understand how all of this diversity we see interacts over time and space.
by Ben Yair Raanan, Physical Oceanography Lab
For nearly a decade the Friends of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have generously awarded a $5,000 summer internship at MBARI to an MLML student in the name of Drew Gashler, a former MLML student and MBARI employee. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, it may be impossible to offer this incredible opportunity to one of our students this year.
by Catarina Pien, PSRC Lab
If you’ve ever visited our lab, you’ve seen the beautiful waters surrounding us, often bobbing with a variety of marine mammals. The main body of water that surrounds Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is Elkhorn Slough, which is an estuarine embayment that drains into the Monterey Bay.
Elkhorn Slough has evolved greatly in the past few centuries. Since the dredging of Moss Landing Harbor in 1946, the slough has become directly connected and thus heavily influenced by the Monterey Bay. This connection has led the slough to change from a freshwater-influenced estuary to a predominantly saltwater-influenced and erosional body of water. A great deal of research has been done to study how these changes have influenced habitat structure and biological communities in the slough.
My own thesis research will focus on Elkhorn Slough, and how various oceanographic variables have changed and are influencing elasmobranch (shark and ray) populations in the slough. I am hoping that the class will be beneficial in showing me how to measure chemical variables, and analyze values in terms of how they influence biological communities.
Last week, our chemical oceanography class was split into five groups and deployed to various water bodies around our school to take some measurements and water samples. It had just rained earlier that week, so we were hoping there would be some visible differences in salinity and nutrient content in the regions we were sampling. Although the main channel of Elkhorn Slough is heavily influenced by the Monterey Bay, and thus oceanographically similar to the ocean, the upper reaches of the slough are often less saline (depending on the season), and more influenced by precipitation. One group went offshore to Monterey Bay, two groups went into Elkhorn Slough, one drove around to Salinas River, Carneros Creek, and other connected sloughs, and my group sampled in Moss Landing Harbor.
We took one of our school’s whalers on a beautiful sunny morning, excited (though some of our facial expressions may not be representative) and ready to sample.
We motored slowly through the harbor, observing sea lions sunning themselves, and being observed by harbor seals and a portly sea otter.
Once at a station, we used the CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth) to measure salinity, temperature, and pH at eight stations within our region.
We also recorded GPS coordinates, and collected water samples with a syringe, and filtered them into a bottle to bring back to the lab.
Many of the changes to Elkhorn Slough have been anthropogenic, including the construction of levees, dikes, tide gates, salt ponds, and railroads. Some of these were constructed early on for agriculture and ranching, whereas others have been created to remedy erosional problems we have created. These barriers have altered tidal flow within Elkhorn Slough, and created distinct oceanographic areas. In order to determine differences between these areas, some stations required us to leave the boat to sample adjacent areas that were separated by a barrier.
We passed by the lab, hoped we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves in front of the whole lab, and successfully finished our collections near the tide gate leading to the Old Salinas River.
Combined with the rest of the teams, we now have oceanographic measurements and water samples all around Elkhorn Slough and the surrounding bodies of water. Over the course of the semester, we will learn how to measure phosphate, nitrite/ nitrate, oxygen, silicate, and alkalinity of the water samples. The measurements will tell us something about how how the stations differ from each other, how Elkhorn Slough is partitioned, and the outside influences to each station.
As marine scientists, many of us spend a substantial chunk of time in the field. While field work can be frustrating and tiring, on a beautiful day like this, encountering a multitude of wildlife and puttering slowly through the beautiful waters, it is easy to remember why we went into the field of marine science.
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 Scott Gabara, Phycology “Seaweed” Lab
Circulating seawater systems are very important for marine laboratories as they need to keep organisms from the ocean alive and use the water to aid in conducting experiments. We have recently had our Moss Landing Marine Laboratories offshore intake upgraded and we went on a dive to inspect its current status. The large meshed cylinder sucks in water and supplies our lab with flowing seawater. We routinely inspect and clean the surface of the grates and the structure.
It is interesting to see what invertebrates recruit or move onto the structure. With sand surrounding us we create a small oasis of life concentrated on the hard substrate. One of the issues we have to deal with is that seawater contains invertebrate larvae and some species will settle on the inside the pipes and eventually constrict and clog our flow, similar to plaque buildup in an artery. We have to force a Pigging Inspection Gauge (PIG), a tool which is usually a piece of cylindrical foam, through the inside of the pipe to clean and clear the walls. It’s great we can get routine cleanings so our seawater system continues flowing and our lab doesn’t have a “heart attack”!
Recently the marine science diving class here at Moss Landing Marine Labs went down to Monterey’s Breakwater to conduct a sunset and night dive. The first dive was to a rocky outcrop called the Metridium field. The Metridium are white plumose anemones that look like fluffy cauliflowers and filter particulates out of the water. It is a stunning sight with so many anemones.
The second dive was conducted by nightfall. Every diver had a glow-stick to better locate their buddy and stay in visual contact in the dark. Each diver has a waterproof light, it takes practice to communicate underwater let alone now using a flashlight. We saw different species like red octopus which were out foraging and rockfish that seemed to hover almost half asleep in the water column. It is interesting to see these changes that happen as the rocky reef changes from day to night.