Archive for the ‘Marine organisms’ Category

Northern elephant seals at Race Rocks

May 15, 2017

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

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!

On the water – 20 Feb 2017

February 20, 2017

gull-standing-on-water

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).

eskil-with-red

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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Sea lion necropsy at Weir’s Beach

February 1, 2017

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.

belly-of-sea-lion

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.

Dock diving

November 30, 2016

While it may not be their preferred dive site, second year divers immersed themselves in the seawater of Pedder Bay and went diving around the Pearson College dock on Friday 18 November and again on Monday 28 November. Below are Marie-Claude, Aurora and Maya, pretty happy after a decent dive.

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Divers did a good service by collecting debris that has been accumulating under the dock for many years (see the previous generation of caf dishes!). Below are photos from 18 November and 28 November.

We released a crab from the plastic bottle (above, middle right of photo on left).  Ian collected two crabs (Cancer productus and Cancer gracilis) seen below in the photo on the left.

Orcas!!

September 29, 2016

This morning my plan for second year marine scientists was to go to Race Rocks to look at marine mammals (sea lions & seals) and birds. My plan went out the window, however, when Kyle spotted orcas as we were underway. We were totally distracted by these magical creatures. We didn’t made it to Race Rocks but we had a wonderful and transformative adventure.

We saw two females with a calf and two bulls. Although I don’t have any good photos of the whales, I did get many photos of the backs of students’ heads!

Sea lions, seals and orcas, oh my!

September 28, 2016

First year marine scientists had a wonderful experience at Race Rocks on Friday 23 September. We went to explore this amazing ecosystem and to observe marine mammals and birds.

house-and-tower

We brought Felix Butschek (yr 36, Austria) along:

felix-photographing

More details to follow on his visit later…

We did see (and hear and smell!) many, many sea lions:

We were also lucky to observe five Northern elephant seals:

As an added bonus one group of students also saw orcas:

For more photos see Flickr album here. And for Anne’s summary of the day and some better orca photos, see the Race Rocks blog.

By the wind sailors (Vellela vellela) at Witty’s

April 28, 2016

Vellela on rock

While F block was getting ready to do their transect study at Witty’s Lagoon – Tower Point yesterday, Mara found the first of many ‘by the wind sailors’ (Vellela vellela) that we would see in the afternoon.

Vellela in hand

These are planktonic cnidarians (related to jellyfish, anemones and corals) which float at the surface of the ocean and are usually found in the open ocean. Sometimes though, when the winds are blowing onshore, they arrive at beaches, usually in great numbers.

Vellela in water

Vellela in tidepool

The one in the photo above is upside down (or perhaps I should say ‘sail-side’ down) in a tidepool with some very photosynthetically active green tangle weed (Acrosiphonia coalita) and some tentacles are visible.

Tidepool studies

April 11, 2016

High tidepool Weir's

First year marine scientists have been investigating tidepools at Weir’s Beach today and at Witty’s Lagoon, Tower Point over the past few days. Above Jacqueline and Ochuko are making observations about a high tidepool.

We also observed some interesting organisms and events:

Sea mouse

A shaggy mouse nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa) at Weir’s Beach (perhaps the same individual that Roxi spotted last year). These slugs eat anemones! And speaking of anemones…

Dividing anemoneA dividing aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima).

Spawning aggregationA spawning aggregation of whelks (Nucella lamellosa) and an abundance of egg capsules.

An opalescent visitor

April 1, 2016

Hermissenda 1

We’re not sure how it arrived in the Floating lab, but several students have observed a beautiful nudibranch called the opalescent sea slug (Hermissenda crassicornis) crawling around in our seawater table.

Thanks to Maya and Zoli for the photos!