Sea otter with innkeeper worm

sea otter with innkeeper wormFor those that haven’t seen one, this is what an innkeeper worm looks like and hence Emily’s description.  I once asked Kozloff if they they occurred in the San Juans and he said he thought they did in False Bay.  Obviously we didn’t see any Tuesday night.   Note: this is not my entry for the field trip.  Phil

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Snorkeling in front of FHL

So Ross and I went snorkeling today off of the dock in front of FHL and saw some pretty cool things:

gearing up

gearing up

Kelp

Kelp

Rossopod

Rossopod

Northern Kelp Crab

Northern Kelp Crab

Pisaster ocraceus

Pisaster ocraceus

Decorator Crab hanging out on...some kind of sponge?

Decorator Crab hanging out on...some kind of sponge?

Shrimp. Not sure of the species, I'm loading these pics from my room

Shrimp. Not sure of the species, I'm loading these pics from my room

Dermasterias imbricata "Leather Star"

Dermasterias imbricata "Leather Star"

-Sean Luis

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Oh Hey

Out of all the interesting new things I learned on our trip to Sucia Island this Friday, four things really stuck out in my mind:

1) Beautiful multimillion dollar waterfront homes = ugly and bad

2) Some turtles grow to be the size of islands!

3) Slime star goo is not poisonous to humans (thanks Ross for testing that one out!)

AND..

4) Finding a fossil on Sucia does not make you special :(  (but it’s still super fun!)

Besides the four main points I thought it was very interesting that the fossils, which had been preserved for so long in the sediment, crumbled when you applied very little pressure to them. I felt pretty bad every time I accidentally destroyed something that had been preserved for thousands of years, but it seemed that the fossils on Sucia were in no short supply.

On Saturday, Hannah, Liza, Mike, Sean, Taylor and I decided to explore Lime Kiln Park. Although we did not see any Orcas we found a great tree for future sunset watching and we learned that Mike has a tattoo.

Saturday night, Sean, Mike, Sarah and I watched LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends perform an amazing 3-hour long concert at the local theater. You all missed out on the fabulous 5$ rush tickets but you can find LeRoy and his band in Seattle most of the time, so don’t miss another opportunity to see their show!

Wish I would have brought my camera! There will be many lovely pictures next time!

That’s all for now!

~Jess

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Apologetically, not Marine Biology

I really was planning on writing this post about something relevant to our quarter.  I promise.  However, as many from this quarter can already attest, I am a one trick pony; what really interested me from our field trip was this:

<i>Rosa nutkana</i> -- Nootka Rose

Rosa nutkana -- Nootka Rose

Nootka rose is quite common almost everywhere on the west coast from northern California to Alaska, so you’ve probably all seen it before.  It is commonly 2-4 feet tall, but some varieties can grow up to 13 feet.  This, combined with its ability to spread rapidly and deadly thorns, makes me wonder if it could possibly take over the world.   I had only ever seen it in mountainous areas and forest clearings, so finding it next to the boat dock on Sucia was news to me.   I had to look it up before I was able to identify it positively, but apparently there are some varieties of R. nutkana that form thickets near the coast.  Never having studied marine and coastal environments again rears its ugly head.

FYI, Nootka rosehips, which are fairly large (>1/2″) apparently have the useful ability to cure bad breath.  They are characteristically rich in vitamin C (1/4 cup of rosehips has as much vitamin C as a dozen oranges).  They persist throughout winter, actually tasting better after the frosts have softened them.  And, apparently, chew the leaves and put them on bee stings to relieve pain (I’m not sure if I buy that…).

What’s actually interesting about this rose is none of the stuff I’ve already mentioned (which was painful to read, I know), but the fact that I was able to get this picture in early October.  I thought I was just getting things wrong, but the USDA Plants database backs me up here: Nootka rose, like its ornamental cousins, blooms in late spring.  Why does this plant have such different phenology than all of its neighbors, which were full of beautiful rosehips?  Maybe it’s a common variation in coastal environments, but I’ve never seen that before…

Right, I feel satisfied now–I’ve given you all your daily dose of terrestrial botany.  I’m sure there’s more to come…

-Sarah Ellison

P.S.  Thought I’d share some other photos from this most awesomeway to start the quarter.

Pema, Christie, and Mike bringing us in for a safe landing

Pema, Christie, and Mike bringing us in for a safe landing

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Tastes Delicious: T/F?

Alga Tastiness

The idea first occurred to me when Kevin held up a branchy red alga from a tide pool on Sucia Island State Park.  The way scientists in the field tell two different algae apart (in this specific case) is usually determined by a good sniff–the one we were looking at had a bleach-y smell to it, while its counterpart does not.

I know smell is important, but taste.  Hmm…

As a purveyor of fine asian vegetarian food, I’m not new to eating seaweeds. Nori? I love it!

So my goal on Sucia became to taste the seaweeds (after I got permission from Emily) that we found in abundance. My results were based on a scale of one to ten, with Nori defining ten because that’s the one I find the tastiest already.

I was able to try Porphyra in person, live and right off the rock. Good news: Porphyra sp. (Nori!) tastes just as good raw and in the field. Rating: +10.

Candrocanthus sp. (common name turkish towel) is all right in the field. Rating: 6.

Ulva sp. might be all right if you were pretty desperate, my feeling was mostly that it was bland. Rating: 4.

The only way I can think describe Halosaccion (the Sea Condom, not Dead Man’s Fingers as I originally thought and why I hate common names) would be to not eat it unless you’re starving.  Rating 1.

Worst, by far, was the Costaria costata. A large, rumply-looking kelp-type plant. What I learned: not even when you’re starving. Rating: -1.

It was an interesting way to start studying algae. I don’t know if I’d recognize a genus or species just by taste, but certainly I remembered them better by experiencing them with more than just the usual sight and touch.

(Edited to fix “alga”, “algaes” and “algas”.  Don’t worry, I know how to use them now.)

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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.

fossil

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.

starfish

Some of the specimens were tastier than other.

phil

Over all, it was a wonderful and tiring day.

Hannah Dean

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Local Techtonic Action

Hey guys,

So we all know that this is the Marine ‘BIOLOGY’ Quarter and we are primarily studying living things in marine environments (which is of course the coolest aspect of marine science). However, there are many physical processes occurring in and around the world’s oceans that ultimately affect marine biota. The geophysics of the ocean floor is a major one and as was evident on Sucia Is., we are sitting in a pretty unique geological location.

The islands are the highest points of an underwater mountain range that connects Vancouver Is. to the mainland. They were formed as a result of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate subducting (forced underneath and melted) underneath the North American plate. Subduction zones can lead to intense volcanic action as the crust of the plate being subducted is liquefied in the upper mantle and forced upwards again.

As Emily briefly explained, the cliffs on Sucia Is. are actually comprised of ancient sea floor sediments that were pushed upward due to geologic activity and eventually carved up by glaciers during the “Wisconsin Glaciation” of the last major ice age. The calcified structures of the fossilized organisms we saw were preserved due to the intense pressure of being buried under constantly forming sea floor sediment layers.

Seeing these ancient fossils on Friday was really cool! I really wish I had brought my camera, I’m jealous of Mike’s awesome pictures. I think geology and paleontology are really cool and again, this is a great area to see it in action. I would like to do some reading on fossils and go back to Sucia sometime in the future.

The trip over on the R/V Centennial was really nice too. I had a good time chilling on the deck and in the cabin and filling out dichotomous surveys. Kevin’s algae lecture was pretty cool. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all those species on our dives.

This was actually my third experience doing an otter trawl and second doing one on the Centennial. I got to spend the night at FHL last winter for my BIOL 180 field trip and we did one then too. My first was with Tim Essington for FISH 210. Otter trawls are always awesome. Even though I kind of feel bad that so many of the animals suffered pressure trauma. Oh well.

Our first week here has been really great! I can’t believe how much we’ve done so far. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the quarter!

Also, here is a really informative (and cool) publication put out by UW geologists. Hence the title, it explains the many geological features of the San Juan archipelago and how they came to be. Check it out!

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/geology/publications/state/wa/uw-1927-2/sec2a.htm

-Sean Luis

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end of a great week start to another

Hi all!

I guess I’ll start with how happy I am that I ended up at Friday Harbor.  I could have so easily not (I always think its interesting to think about the different paths that your life could take) – and its really been a trip of firsts.  I’m getting so much exposure to a side of life that I’ve never really experienced or thought about.  In a week of first time experiences, I’ve rowed a rowboat to town, caught a shrimp with a net, touched a seastar, pressed algae and a host of other scientific things that I thought that I would never experience.  On Friday we took the research vessel Centennial out to Sucia Island and poked around the intertidal region (the area that falls between lo and hi tide) for organisms and fossils.  We saw a ton of barnacles, pisasters, tiny sea anemones and tiny crabs that lived in these spiral shaped shells.  pisasters!

Here are a couple pisasters that I found just chillin’ on the rocks. These two look like they’re either about to copulate or one is about to eat the other.  I can’t decide which.  Learned about the species from Sean and some of the MBQ teachers.  I’m really interested in them, they’re kind of like the lions of the Sahara – top predators of their own ecosystem.  Chasing down barnacles at slow speeds, fascinating.  I’m hoping that I get to see one feed before my time is out.  We were putting another type of seastar (large, 10-20 legs) back in the holding tanks in the lab after we had picked him/her up in the ocean trawl and somebody was saying that it has to be kept separate otherwise it will eat everything put in the tank with it.  wow!  Who knew seastars were such killas

Anyhow, just wanted to end with a really pretty picture of the docks, the labs and the town of Friday Harbor as viewed from across the bay.  Hopefully I’ll be able to link friends/family to this blog, so this one is for you all!

my morning view

Taylor

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Lime Kiln and Limestone

Who doesn’t love the San Juan Islands? It’s a place to instantly fall in love with. Most people come to the island for the touristy side of things like shopping in town or the ever popular whale watching. As students here at FHL we know better and that there are much more complex things going on in the waters surrounding the island and on the land it’s self. Cruising up from Anacortes you are given the opportunity to view the islands and their natural beauty, the carved stone cliffs that plummet into the water, the small rocky coves here and there abounding in driftwood, and the tree lined rolling hills.

Map of the San Juan Islands

Map of the San Juan Islands

Geographically this region is a hot spot, the islands are being pushed and squeezed by continental plate shifting. There are at least 6 different terranes (fault line formed rock groupings) are present in the San Juan Islands. A geologically interesting area on San Juan Island is the limestone. Lime Kiln state park has one such area where they actually had 2 kilns for the extraction of the limestone. The limestone operation started in the 1860’s, the kilns were used to extract the lime from the rock. Because of the kiln operation much of the area was logged and developed, causing the old forested area to disappear. Much of the woods that you see hiking the trails there is newer growth. In 1984 the property was turned over to the state and one of the kilns was restored and you can see it today.

One of the restored kilns

One of the restored kilns

Kiln oven

Kiln ovenRemaining limestone

Kiln doors
Kiln doors

The limestone was created from magma that erupted underneath the seafloor 200 million years ago. This magma flowed over the sea-floor sediment and caused a volcanic chain to form. Not long after the magma started forming the islands pillow basalt started to form and it’s evident that it came from under water because it cooled quickly. After the basalt cooled a process know as sedimentation happened. This geologic formation was then pressed upward by shifting plate tectonics. The after affect can be see at Lime Kiln park where there are still limestone deposits.

View looking south from Lime Kiln Light house

View looking south from Lime Kiln Light house


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Sucia Island is AMAZING!

Thank you all so muchLet me start by saying that I’m really happy to be here at Friday Harbor Labs and THANKS to all that have helped me on this long journey. I am finally here after a summer of anticipation and a long journey from Southeast Alaska. The first week here was amazing and I know there is more awesomeness to come.

So, I think we can agree that the highlight of our week was the trip to Sucia Island; at least it was the highlight for me. Sucia Island BeachThanks to Phil for a great preview of the island in his blog post. Too bad we didn’t get to check out the whole island, but I had fun and I know I wasn’t the only smiling face. Here are some pictures from the fossil-littered beach and the ensuing destruction. The rock was so soft that you could just pull it apart (I would never do such a thing though–maybe to some of the rocks that were already on the ground). For me, the fossils were amazing. I have never seen such history in my hands– it was better than visiting the Mona Lisa. In-tact shellSwirly Shell Fossil

Most of the fossils were carbonate shells. There were also a few that had been mineralized by rock and only the shape remained. These couple of fossils were my favorite. It looks like one was from a scallop and the other was from a snail of some sort.

I am not a paleontologist, I just had fun.

So after poking at the dead organisms, we made a Shrine of Fallen Sea Creatures out of a washed up seal skin and skull. Shrine of the Fossils We then went to poke around at the living creatures. There was a lot of life in the intertidal zone. Even though we were not out there during an extremely low tide, my Xtra Tuffs allowed me to wade in the waves and find some cool Pisasters going surfing (the kind you do when you’re a sea star). We also found sea anenomes in abundance among the barnacles. Moose told me that these little creatures like to battle it out when their colonies clash. Oh, the horror.

I’ll finish by saying we did a lot more on the island, but visiting that one beach was a ton of fun. Thank you Jessica for taking some great pictures when I just wanted to explore and I will put some more onto the dark Abyss for everyone to view.

I hope to see everyone’s cool pictures and we’ll get some more this week on our next field trips out to Cattle Point and to the mud flats. Au revoir!

Thank you to Pema and the Centennial crew for all your great help with the equipment!

MichaelAwesome Boat

Examining some marine life


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