Sucia Island

Last Friday, Jessica and I dragged ourselves out of bed and made a mad dash to dress, pack, and get to breakfast on time. We made it, but as it turned out we were getting breakfast to go as well as a pack lunch. On the dock by 8am, we boarded the Centennial and some very misguided students thought to side on the front of the boat in front of the bridge. The rain was coming down and it was unclear whether the weather would clear and turn for the worse. We were headed out to Sucia Island. We huddled in the wind and cold in all our layers, or lack there of for some of us, and drank in the scenery of passing islands. The calm of sea-travel did not last long. Soon we were frantically passing out surveys and gathering information to complete our class keys. It was a frenzy worthy of Animal Planet.

When we arrived at Sucia Island, we walked the exposed intertidal area searching for fossils. The fossils of mostly bivalves are embedded in the rocky ground and cliffs. The amazing rocks in which the fossils can be found are the result of the folding of the earth’s crust.


We roved over the rocks searching for the best fossil. We were also able to do some “tidepooling.” Personally, I had a wonderful time searching out the crevices of water in search of colonies of sea anemones. I was not disappointed.

sea anemones

We also found starfish and crabs. There was also the skull of a baby harbor seal washed up on the shore, which we morbidly reconstructed and photographed.

harbor seal

On the island, we had our sack lunches. At lunch, I gave a mini-lecture on The DIE-A-BET-US. Several people tested their blood sugar. Fortunately, I was able to determine that no one unsuspectingly diabetic. The students froze at lunch because we decided to sit in the middle of the wind channel, while some of the instructors found a table that was protected from the wind. Despite the wind, it was a beautiful day.

We hiked over to Fossil Bay to meet up with the boat. On the boat, we dropped the CTD over the stern of the ship. In the comfort of the galley, we watched the instrument graph the salinity, temperature, chlorophyll concentration, and oxygen levels by depth. Sean explained it all to us.

sean instructing

However, not all of us fit in the galley, so some had to watch from outside.

mike in window

The cruise back was more relaxing. Apparently, it was perfect for nappage, as you can see by these photos.

Emily and Mike sleeping

Taylor sleeping

The southbound cruise cut the wind and we were able to bath in the sunlight with only t-shirts on. I managed, with my extreme pastiness, to burn. But I was happy because I was warm and got to wear my sunglasses.

We did two trawls just before we got back to Friday Harbor. I touched my first ever live shrimp. It jumped and scared the bejeezus out of me. We collected lots of species of kept, shrimp, crab, clam, urchin, sea cucumber, and starfish.


Some of the specimens were tastier than other.


Over all, it was a wonderful and tiring day.

Hannah Dean



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