Northern elephant seals at Race Rocks

May 15, 2017 by

During the first year field exam at Race Rocks on Friday 12 May (post to follow…), there were 11 northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) that provided both entertainment and answers to the students writing the exam.

One of the questions on the field exam involved observing elephant seals and the seals seemed happy to oblige.

Over the course of the morning, many of the elephant seals made their way to the water.

Once in the water, one elephant seal was frolicking in the bull kelp and blowing bubbles.

In the water

Some students even tried behaving like elephant seals:

Elephant seals

Spectacular Swordfish Island

May 3, 2017 by

D block marine scientists were very fortunate to get to Swordfish Island yesterday to do a tidepool study. In addition to measuring the dimensions of two tidepools, they compared temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen of high and low tidepools. Students also made species lists for both of the tidepools they were examining.

We did expand our exploration beyond tidepools because this is such a stunning place. Here are a few of the spectacular marine species:

And two terrestrial species:

So beautiful!

Biodiversity by snorkel

May 2, 2017 by

Every year I issue a challenge to marine scientists to compare the biodiversity of two habitats. I suggest high & low in the intertidal, horizontal & vertical in the rocky intertidal, plankton tows in two locations or two areas on the dock. I always offer the option of snorkelling and a few students, like 3 or 4, usually take me up on it.

This year there were more takers for the snorkelling option than ever – 7 students in the first class and 6 in the second class.

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A few students even snorkelled across Pedder Bay to compare the two different sides of the bay (see photo above).

And not all students snorkelled, below are Tomma in the intertidal and Karel sampling plankton at the green buoy. While Karel and I were in Hyaku, we watched a submarine make its way to the navy dock.

For more photos see Flickr album Biodiversity 2017.

And for a reminder of last year’s sampling see Biodiversity in Pedder Bay.

IB exam 2017

April 28, 2017 by

Year 42 MarSciA new format this year for the Marine Science exam saw students writing paper 1 yesterday afternoon then they reconvened this morning for paper 2.

Congratulations marine scientists of year 42!!  I know marine science will always be in your heart and you all have a special place in my heart.

Link to more photos…

On the water – 20 Feb 2017

February 20, 2017 by

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While out with divers at Prison Rocks this afternoon, we were treated to various spectacles, including a gull standing on the water (above) and Eskil doing his internal assessment work (below).

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We also saw one tugboat, then a second tugboat come around William Head followed by a frigate, the HMCS Ottawa. The frigate was being escorted and assisted by the tugboats as she headed to the Navy dock in Pedder Bay. The Ottawa certainly dwarfed our Pearson College sailboats!

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Thank you Rob Stewart

February 5, 2017 by

Some very sad news to report about one of the ocean’s strongest and most passionate advocates, Rob Stewart. He died last week while exploring the depths off the Florida Keys.

Pearson College Marine Science students did have the chance to meet and hear Rob Stewart speak when he came to Victoria five years ago, in February 2012. See photo below and link.

Group with RS

Article in Globe and Mail by Paul Watson.

Article in Outside on ‘What happened to Rob Stewart?’

His courage and dedication to conserving marine organisms and ecosystems will live on in his films and all of the people that he inspired. Thank you Rob!

Sea lion necropsy at Weir’s Beach

February 1, 2017 by

After learning from Ivonne yesterday that there was a dead sea lion at Weir’s Beach and after getting permission from DFO, first and second year Biology students participated in a necropsy of a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) this morning.

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Above is how we found it initially yesterday (31 January 2017) – apparently the sea lion washed up on Weir’s Beach, headless, on 20 January.

We began the necropsy by opening up the abdominal cavity.

We excised the liver, stomach and small intestine.

Several students worked on stretching out the small intestine then they measured it to be 51.7 m long!

We then moved into the thoracic cavity, after cutting through the blubber and thick, dark red pectoral muscles.

The heart, right lung and and trachea were removed and examined by students.

We were blasted by sand and a bitterly cold wind throughout, but students remained engaged & interested. An amazing opportunity!

The photo below is my favourite – Emily is holding the mesentery in the wind.

mesentarySee Flickr page for many more photos.

Investigating the properties of seawater 2017

January 29, 2017 by

Once again, first year marine scientists carried out individual investigations into the properties of seawater.

Many students did lab-based investigations:

And a few went out into the field… Yeji measured the variation in salinity with location in Pedder Bay by kayaking (she got a bit wet and had her pants dried by Hazuki, who investigated the effect of wind speed on water movement). And Quni was prepared for the wet weather but as you can see below, returned to the lab in the sunshine!

Free glaciology and marine programs for girls seek applications

January 26, 2017 by

International Arctic Research Center

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is accepting applications through January 31, 2017 for free summer science and wilderness expeditions in Alaska and Washington for girls ages 16 to 17.

Three teams of up to nine teenage girls and three instructors will spend 12 days exploring and learning about mountain glaciers or fjords with tidewater glaciers. They’ll conduct scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, oceanographers, artists and mountaineers.

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Pedder Bay sunrise – 13 January 2017

January 13, 2017 by

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Thanks to Abbie for the photos!