Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Day 6

Last night's snorkel-the bioluminescence was way cool.  I waved my hand around in the water and little sparkles seemed to follow my hand.  It was like little stars in the water.  Do you know what it is?  Here is a definition from NOAA-

"Bioluminescent creatures are found throughout marine habitats, from the ocean surface to the deep seafloor.

The light emitted by a bioluminescent organism is produced by energy released from chemical reactions occurring inside (or ejected by) the organism.
If you’ve ever seen a firefly, you have encountered a bioluminescent organism. In the ocean, bioluminescence is not as rare as you might think. In fact, most types of animals, from bacteria to sharks, include some bioluminescent members.
While the functions of bioluminescence are not known for all animals, typically bioluminescence is used to warn or evade predators), to lure or detect prey, and for communication between members of the same species."

Day 6 and we're getting the hang of the plankton tows, got us some specimens then headed out for another kayak to count marine mammals.  We saw four sea lions out by the green buoy.  It was a good workout, a beautiful sunny day with a brisk breeze.

After lunch, we went back to the lab to look for the plankton that cause the harmful alga blooms.  No one had much luck today seeing the little creatures.  That's the way of science, sometimes you have good results and other times no; but no data is data! as I overheard one marine scientist saying.

Tomorrow is our last day here.  We will be driving into the interior of the island.  I'm hoping to see some of the island bison, (although I might feel guilty as I'm having a buffalo burger for lunch!)  I've been assured however, that the buffalo I will be eating is not from the island.  The bison here are protected.  (thank goodness).

It's been great here.  I learned a lot about how scientists conduct research.  There is a lot of meticulous work involved.  Every time you collect and examine data, the protocol has to remain the same, you need to be careful to keep it the same so that the results can be replicated. Your eyes get quite a workout looking through the microscopes for hours at a time, but you get better at it.

The world is fascinating.  There is so much to find out.  I challenge each and every one of you to go out into the world and learn as much as you can about how it all works.
Here's to science!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Special squid dancing movie

Check out the Hawaiian Bobtailed squid chomping the shrimp.

El quinto dia

Greetings fellow human beings,
I can't believe it's day 5 here!  We've been busy.  Today we again collected a plankton sample in the morning, then went kayaking, hoping to see some marine mammals, only saw one sea lion, but did see quite a bit of birds, pelicans, cormorants, a loon!, and a bald eagle.  Neat!
It was quite a haul in the water, sure felt it in my arms on the way back.  I was in a single ocean kayak, pretty maneuverable in the waters.
In the afternoon, we went back in the lab to look for more plankton under the microscope.  I saw some organisms that I haven't seen yet, such as an arrow worm and a segmented worm larva.
Tonight is the night snorkel, let's see who does it!

The diatomite (diatomaceous earth)  looks like a Great White Shark!

Check out the white layer, that's ash that's become rock.

Here's some pictures of the plankton under the microscope.
Here's a type of plankton called a diatom chain.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Day 4 part 2-snorkling

Good afternoon folks!  Here's all the 7mm wet suits for snorkeling.  They are very THICK!  Which is good, as the water is 19 degrees Celsius.  So after we all struggled into the suits, out we went to the dock to jump in.  The clarity of the water is awesome.  We saw California's state fish, the Garibaldi, also saw some huge Kelp Bass, Media lunas, Blacksmith's and Stingrays!  Very cool.

It's the 4th day!

Another beautiful day
Happy Monday everyone!  I've been at work all weekend while you guys were relaxing!  I now know how to identify those little plankton, (well, at lest some of them).  Going up to the dining hall, I was hoping to see some of the little native island foxes, still didn't see one.

Where are those foxes?
Early morning

Last night, we had great adventures watching the Hawaiian Bobtailed squid eating the shrimp.  Although, one big shrimp stood up to that ol' squid!

Hawaiian bobtailed squid

She got the shrimp and is eating it!


Ok, geology experts!  We have all three types of rock right here in Fisherman's Cove-that white sedimentary rock we were using in our river models-yes, you guessed it , diatomite, where the diatomaceous earth comes from.   All those little diatom skeletons which fell on the seafloor, got buried, put under tremendous pressure and came up here on Catalina Island as the Pacific plate subducted under the North American Plate.  We also have blue schist, a metamorphic rock and basalt, an igneous rock, all right here in the cove

Collecting our morning plankton sample.

Miz D, high school biology teacher!

In the lab again looking for plankton
Another surprise in the night!  Guess what came out?  Nope, not another lobster but a....

cute little swell shark, see it down there on the bottom?  Just emerged from its egg case, which I was holding up.   


Please feel free to post any questions you might have!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Day Three!

Greetings everyone!  Good day to another beautiful day on Catalina Island.  Daylight savings so slept an extra hour, missed the sunrise this morning. It rained during the night, so the day was fresh and clean.  Took a quick walk before breakfast, here's our cute houses we're staying in and there's the cafeteria, sure eating a lot here!  Then on down to the dock to get some seawater samples, documenting the temperature, salinity and pH of the water.  Up to the lab to look for some specific plankton critters,  mainly we're looking for the ones that when in abundance cause the harmful alga blooms. I didn't see any of those but did see my favorite zooplankton dudes, the Calanoid Copepods, they zipped around on my petri dish and I tried to follow them with my microscope.  Quite a skill to focus the microscope and find all the different plankton, especially the smaller transparent plankton; saw lot's of diatom chains.  So hey, guys, if you don't know what a diatom chain is, look it up, there's your challenge.  Later in the day, we went to the other side of the isthmus we were on, (quick, remember the land forms?  Isthmus?), and did a MPA walk.  What's a MPA?  A marine protected area and we were assessing the impact of human activity, so that means we looked for human activity and it's impact on nature.  We counted boats, any people we saw, anything that might impact the ecosystem.  Finally, we ended the day by checking out Two Harbors, the tiny town here that has a one room schoolhouse!  Can you imagine going there?  The biggest class they ever had was 10 students, all in one room with one teacher, all the ages together.
Hope everyone had a great weekend, I hope to video conference with you tomorrow.
My lodging


View from cafeteria patio

I was the data recorder

Here's the sheet I was recording on

Capturing plankton

Testing the temperature of the water

Getting pH levels


My favorite dude!

Surprise!  The lobster molted in the night!  She's gone and left the shell behind.

Wait, there she is!  Vulnerable, without a shell, a dangerous time for a lobster.

On our way to the other side of the Isthmus.

Doing the MPA walk, checking out human activity.
One room schoolhouse!