Archive for November, 2012

Where are they now? – Erickson

November 30, 2012


…is in the mouth of a sperm whale!

Erickson (PC 36, USA) is currently attending College of the Atlantic (COA) where he has had the opportunity to do some very unique necropsies. A 50 foot / 15 m long adult sperm whale, a 20 foot / 6 m long humpback whale calf and recently a 6 foot / 2 m long male leatherback turtle.


Erickson is the one in the white suit and yellow hard hat to the left of the large vertebral column above.



Next term he is participating in a SEA semester program called “Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems” during which he will spend a month in Woods Hole, Massachusetts then seven weeks on a schooner, sailing from Tahiti to Hawai’i.

While at Pearson College, Erickson was a very keen Marine Science student and diver and he was instrumental in the necropsy and articulation of the California sea lion skeleton that is currently hanging in the floating lab.

Ice on Pedder Bay

November 26, 2012

This morning (26 November 2012) there was a very thin layer of ice on the surface of Pedder Bay, which was mostly melted by the time I took the photo below (10:15 am).


It’s a terrible photo, I know, but an event worth noting nonetheless.

Where are they now? – Ellen

November 26, 2012

Last week I was very excited to find in my mailbox a postcard from Israel with a lionfish on the front.  Even more exciting was that the postcard was from Ellen (PC37, Denmark) who has been diving in the Red Sea with lionfish, moray eels, scorpionfish and clownfish. Ellen also saw very large sea turtles and was still hoping to see dolphins and manta rays when she wrote.  She is completing her dive master certification in the 24 degree Celsius water of the Red Sea, but claims that she misses canadian waters.

Ellen was a student in both Marine Science and Biology and a very active diver during her time here at Pearson College.  She also participated in reconstructing the sea lion skeleton that is currently suspended in the floating lab.

UPDATE: 5 January 2013 – just realized that I didn’t include a photo of Ellen – just the lionfish postcard! Here she is as a ‘chubby flashlight fish’ and middle right in the class photo below.

Chubby flashlight fish P1070781

Marine-themed VW Westfalia

November 24, 2012

This is an unusual post, but quite relevant to Marine Science… really!

Last year, Helen (PC38, China) asked if she could paint our van.  Many students have asked to use the white VW Westfalia as a canvas, but only Helen followed through by doing the necessary research to do it successfully. She and two other Marine Science students, Laas (PC38, BC) and Elliot (PC39, Scotland) and Danielle (PC39, Alberta) took the project on as their Jack Matthews Day challenge on 28 September 2012.

Here is the final result and a few photos of the process:


Temperature & Salinity 22 Nov 2012

November 22, 2012
Depth  (m) Temperature  (oC) Salinity (ppt)
0 7.1 10.5
0.5 8.0 29.5
1 8.1 29.7
2 8.8 31.0
3 8.8 31.0
4 8.8 31.0
5 8.9 31.0

9:45 am   Pearson College dock

Temperature & Salinity 21 Nov 2012

November 21, 2012
Depth (m) Temperature (oC) Salinity (ppt)
0 8.2 26.8
0.5 8.6 29.0
1 8.8 30.9
2 8.8 30.9
3 8.8 31.0
4 8.9 31.0
5 8.9 31.0

8:15 am   Pearson College dock

Oceanography in Pedder Bay

November 19, 2012

Both first year Marine Science classes set out to “describe and explain the spatial variation in temperature and salinity in Pedder Bay” last week. D block went out on Thursday 15 November while B block went on Friday 16 November.

They measured and recorded temperature and salinity, at six locations within Pedder Bay and at each location every meter from the surface to the sea floor.

Students also recorded abiotic factors at each station including wind speed & direction, air temperature and Secchi depth.

The data have not yet been analyzed, but will be soon!  Stay tuned…

Plankton diversity in Pedder Bay

November 17, 2012

On Friday 16 November, Mariana (PC38, Mexico) collected plankton samples for her independent research project. She sampled at four locations within Pedder Bay and one location at Race Rocks.

The photo below is of the sample from Race Rocks – lots of copepods and chaetognaths!

Mariana is currently in the process of analyzing her samples – more details later…

Sea lion necropsy 2012

November 13, 2012

Yesterday, Monday 12 November, many Pearson College students were involved in a necropsy of a male California sea lion. We began by towing the carcass to the maintenance dock.

Then pulling it up on to the shore.

Several measurements were recorded.

Standard length: 2.10 m

Curvilinear length: 2.21 m

Anterior length of foreflipper: 57 cm

Axillary flipper length: 45 cm

Widest foreflipper length: 58 cm

Anterior length of hindflipper: 43 cm

Widest hindflipper length: 34 cm

Tail length: 10 cm

Blubber thickness: 4-6 mm

We then cut into the abdominal cavity.

The intestines were removed, stretched out and measured to be 45 m!

Other organs were also removed from the abdominal cavity…

…including the stomach which was opened and found to be empty…

…and the liver.

The heart was also removed and cuts were made into the two ventricles (L and R in photo below).

At one point we needed to roll the sea lion up the shore as the tide was coming in…a significant challenge!

Although it is not clear to us why this particular sea lion died, this was an incredibly valuable experience for many Marine Science and Biology students.

More early succession – bryozoans, barnacles and fishes

November 8, 2012

On Monday 29 October, D block marine scientists went down to the Pearson College dock and checked on the substrates that they had suspended in the water on 10 September 2012. There have been lots of observable changes…

 September – clean

October – diatoms

October – bryozoans

September – clean

 October – bryozoans

 September – a rusty can

October – still a rusty can but now with a barnacle!


 October –                 sailfin sculpin inside jar!

 October – shrimp in mesh outside jar

 October – it may look like just a concrete block with diatoms but there was a spiny lumpsucker on it when it was pulled up – the photographer was too slow to capture the fish!

And we had a few accidents over the almost two month period:

The box shown above now looks like this:

And there was a tangle of two substrates: