Archive for September, 2012

A preponderance of plankton

September 26, 2012

A plankton sample collected from the mouth of Pedder Bay (near the Navy buoy) on Monday 24 September had an incredible diversity and abundance of both phytoplankton and zooplankton.  Species lists and selected photos are below.

Phytoplankton species list:

Diatoms: Thalassiosira sp., Asterionellopsis glacialisEucampia zodiacus, Coscinodiscus spp., Ditylum brightwellii, Chaetoceros spp., Thalassionema sp., Thalassiothrix sp., Stephanopyxis sp., Skeletonema sp., Pseudo-nitzschia sp., Cylindrotheca closterium

Dinoflagellates: Noctiluca scintillans, Ceratium sp.




Zooplankton species list:

juvenile bay pipefish (Sygnathus leptorhynchus), barnacle nauplius larva, other crustacean nauplius larvae, crab zoea larva, shrimp larva, snail veliger larva, sea urchin pluteus larva, orange-red eggs (possibly sea star eggs), sea star brachiolaria larva, sea cucumber auricularia larva, nemertean pilidium larva, polychaete worm larvae.

copepods, ostracods, cladocerans (Podon and Evadne), siphonophores (possibly Muggiaea), tintinnids, larvaceans (Oikopleura dioica), Obelia jellyfish







Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup 2012

September 22, 2012

On Sunday 16 September  2012, four second year Marine Science students (Karam, Laas, Sammy & Vuochly) and Ishara (an honorary marine scientist) participated in a beach cleanup at Esquimalt Lagoon.  The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is coordinated by the Vancouver Aquarium and the Site Coordinator for this location was the Juan De Fuca Power & Sail Squadron.

Karam, Ishara & Vuochly even won a prize for collecting over 4000 cigarette butts.

Below is the summary prepared by the the coordinator from the Juan De Fuca Power & Sail Squadron (

See also: for more details about other shoreline cleanups.

More mud

September 19, 2012

In case you weren’t able to identify the one student that we almost lost in the mudflats, here he is getting stuck deeper and deeper in the mud…

And here is Chris unstuck (and bootless!)…

Below are a few images from a light microscope (100x magnification) of mud samples taken at the surface of the mudflat:

Note the benthic diatoms – a few were still alive and would have been living on the surface of the mudflat, but most are just the empty frustules (glass cases).

And samples from about 25 cm deep in the mudflat:

Similar sized particles but no diatoms to be seen in the deep samples.


All marine science students survive the mudflats…barely!

September 12, 2012

On Tuesday morning at 6:15 am, A block marine scientists canoed from the dock across the bay to a lovely little spot – the mudflats!  All students survived that trip, although, as always, there was one who was almost lost.

Laas (above right, in the orange shirt and muddy hands!) almost lost her shoes in the mud and ended up walking barefoot.

Ben (above in polka dot boots) did very well to stay on the surface of the mud, despite being very tall.

Rikka & Angela learned that standing on a solid old dock prevents sinking into the mud.

This morning, Wednesday, at 6:15 am another group of intrepid marine scientists headed to that same location across the bay.

One student was almost lost to the mud (can you guess which one?) and one boot was left behind about 1 m deep in the mud.

We almost forgot to bring back a bucket full of organisms (clams, worms & crabs)…

But Sammy & Mariana volunteered to retrieve it…

In the process a second gumboot was almost lost (see Mariana’s left foot)…

But it all worked out in the end!

Great adventure all in all, even though a few in the mud did fall.  Students learned about the mudflats distinctive smell, and some would call it a living hell.


September 7, 2012

Ecological succession can be defined as ‘the orderly process of change over time in a community’ or ‘the sequence of appearance and disappearance of species in an ecosystem after a disturbance or following the creation of a new habitat’. It is a pattern of colonization and extinction.

At Pearson College a similar change occurs every year when a new cohort of students arrives in the fall.  The first week of classes is now over and this afternoon, first year Marine Science students set up a succession experiment that will be ongoing throughout their two year tenure at the College.

Each student in B block chose a substrate (from the Recycling Shed) to suspend from the Pearson College dock at about 0.5 m depth.  The substrates included: a small concrete block, a glass jar, a plastic plant pot, a piece of wood, a large tin can, a plastic bleach bottle and an old tire.

A mesh-wrapped bottle.

A coat hanger with plastic mesh attached.

Lily’s glass bottle (no mesh!).

The old tire came from a beach clean-up that Marine Science students did three years ago.

Today the substrates are uncolonized – students will track the process of ecological succession by pulling up their substrate every two months or so.  We’ll keep you posted…