The internship is coming to a close very soon; Kaitlyn and I have completed our data collection. With the upset of our 2 missing offshore larval moorings, we altered our project to compare the larvae of the nearshore traps. Having counted and morphologically distinguishing the larvae of the bottom trap and of the 1 m altitude trap, the analyzed data revealed fulfilling results. To start, larval composition differs with just a 1 m height difference in the water column. The bottom trap is more variable among repeated measures (tubes), and significantly more cyprids were found in the 1 m altitude trap, supporting the hypothesis that intertidal larvae travel higher in the water column. This is supported because a majority of the cyprids are identified as: Chthamalus dalli, Balanus glandula, Balanus crenatus, and Balanus nubilus, many of which are intertidal cyprids. Therefore, even with the loss of the moorings, we were able to collect data and produce a poster using the single nearshore mooring; a poster on pyrosome reproduction was constructed as well, and we will be presenting our findings next week.
With the stress of the end nearing, unsuspected deadlines, and long hours of data collection, the interns decided to let loose and have a dance party. We danced and pranced and were stress-free for a few hours or so. Then, the stress paraded itself right back to the interns, not subsiding until all data was collected, and posters were produced. During this haul for completion, some of us also took a break to head to a food truck competition. It was my first ever food truck experience, and I was very pleased with my vegan Asian wrap; it was yummy in my tummy. The live music also brought us to our feet with our surf dance moves. Not to mention, an invertebrate ball happened later in the week, where everybody dressed up as an invertebrate; I dressed up as a pyrosome, of course. The ball had a costume competition, allowing the students to strut down the runway in strange invertebrate manners. The ball ended with a dance party, so the week was basically filled with lots of dancing, which I am ecstatic about. The interns also went to Golden and Silver Falls; although a short hike, the falls and the nature were beautiful. We all got soaked standing under the waterfalls, “feeling the rain on our skin”. The evening also presented itself with a meteor shower in which we ooo’d and aah’d with each shooting star. I love going on adventures with all the interns, my friends.
A few gals and I shuffled over to the carnival and rodeo; the venue presented bull riding and bull chasing, sold caramel apple and scones (not the Scottish biscuit-like pastry), which I tasted for the first time, and allowed petting of farm animals: goats, cows, pigs, ponies, llamas. The farm animals were my favorite, especially a crazy cow that licked us for minutes and continued to lick the cow adjacent to it as we moved on.
The following day the interns traveled to Newport, where we were welcomed with a tour of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The visitors’ center was quite wonderful, geared towards showing the public and allowing participation of what science truly entails; the center even has a grant for the set up of cameras throughout to see the popularity of each display and activity along with the reactions of the visitors to allow for improvement. Afterwards, we had fun at the Newport Aquarium, viewing many animals.
The day was not over yet as we stopped by Cape Perpetua on the way home. The viewpoint was spectacular; the hilly tree-coated lands and the ripples of the Pacific Ocean for miles and beyond presented a breathtaking, hard-to-imagine picture. Next on the list was a bed of carnivorous flowers Darlingtonia californica. The organism is quite neat; insects are lured into a leaf opening by nectar and are confused by the many transparent areas, preventing escape. The glassy surface of the top causes the insects to slide down to the lower tube lined with sharp hairs. They fall into a pool of liquid, are digested and absorbed. It is quite gruesome but totally cool!
The week also involved much luxury reading in many luxurious places: the beach, hammocks, and the boat. Speaking of boats, Kaitlyn and I collected our near-shore larval trap this week. Days later, we attempted to collect our off-shore larval traps way out in the ocean, and they were nowhere to be found. We were struck by surprise as Captain Mike spotted the traps just a week or so beforehand. We did not even consider the possibility that the traps could be missing, and the deadline to complete our projects is rapidly approaching with our posters already needing to be composed. With the 2 off-shore traps gone, we adjusted our project with a week to spare; now, we will sort all the larvae of the near-shore larval trap morphologically rather than just the barnacles, which was the original plan for all the larval traps. By doing so, we will be able to compare the presence of the larvae on the ocean floor with those of 1 meter above, determining where they travel. The results may be of less significance now, however, since the larvae are most likely jumbled up by the tide, possible causing an inaccurate belief of where the larvae travel. We shall see.
Time is ticking, and the need for data collection is high. Kaitlyn and I have spend countless hours on the microscope this week, capturing pictures of pyrosome gonads. Once the data is collected, we will analyze the findings, recognize a pattern, and discover something of pyrosome reproduction. In an attempt to remain sane with all the microscopy, we have multiple projects happening, allowing us to rotate and take a break from each activity. We are completing histology on decalcified brittle stars from the Gulf of Mexico, counting the zooids in sections of the pyrosomes at different locations, and mounting mussels for view and analysis via the scanning electron microscope. The work is meticulous and repetitive, but it is part of being a scientist, and the final result of the data will be well worth the effort… some day… we hope.
In the lab, the work has begun to get repetitive; Kaitlyn and I have been finding the gonads of pyrosome zooids and taking photographs of the largest section in each zooid in an attempt to understand their reproduction. We will measure the area of the gonads later on, but many data are needed to get an accurate result. I have become quite good at identifying gonads from the many hours spent on the microscope.
The interns all took a road trip to Eugene involving car games, snacks, music, and sleep, of course. We went to the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History and visited some science labs of the University of Oregon. It was interesting to see what projects the grad students were working on, particularly the project of testing chemicals on roundworms to determine if any would yield a longer life span.
Other fun included the regular festivities of yoga, foosball, walks on the beach, bonfires, movies, and more.
Hello everybody! I have had yet another wonderful week at OIMB with the perfect combination of science and miscellaneous fun.
We have specified the larval project to look at the comparison of deep-sea and shallow water acorn barnacle larval development. The species of interest, Hesperibalanus hisperius, which is a deep-water species of acorn barnacle, was found in abundance on the ocean floor in the eastern Pacific (Meyer et al, 2017), formulating question of whether the species remains on the ocean floor throughout all of its larval instars or if the species travels at various depths in the water column during its larval development. Balanus glandula is a comparable species of acorn barnacle in the Pacific coast on North America that settles in the intertidal region. I anticipate that there is a correlation between depth of travel in the water column during larval development and settlement location/depth. Based on this prediction, Hesperibalanus hisperius and Balanus glandula both travel in the water column, but Hesperibalanus hisperius would descend to the ocean floor at an earlier instar or would travel at the ocean floor throughout all of its larval development while Balanus glandula would travel higher up in the water column. We will do the analysis of the specimens in 3 weeks when we collect the traps.
As the interns have weekly developmental sessions, this week’s was on jobs and internships. The session surely supplied me with many resources to find available jobs, internships, and research opportunities that correlate with my desired field of study.
The histological preparation of deep-sea brittle stars and midwater pyrosomes is progressing well, as we are almost done embedding the specimens in wax and slicing them into thin slices with a microtome (a machine that functions like the one that slices deli meat) to prepare them for viewing under the microscope. Soon, we shall investigate the reproduction of both, making the unknown known, which is quite amazing.
We did minimal work on the 4th of July and headed over to Sunset beach for a picnic with the faculty and students. With piles of delicious food to fill our bellies to their brinks, we had enough energy to play volleyball for hours. A traditional egg toss followed in which 2 eggs broke on me, causing me to smell like scrambled eggs for the entire day. The night ended with fireworks in Coos Bay over the water, creating a picture perfect moment, especially with a nearby child that was wooing in amazement with each firework.
Once again, a busy yet fun week at OIMB swam on by.
The week began with a spontaneous boat trip in an effort to obtain lost larval traps mid-ocean as well as to capture some animals from the ocean floor. The trip was not what one would describe as a huge success; a couple of people became sea sick, the trap was found but not retrieved, and very few specimens were collected. However, I was able to get out in the field, become acquainted with the boat, and learn that in research, one does not succeed with each effort.
Pyrosomes (colonial, bioluminescent tunicates) were rare off Oregon until recently, but during recent months they have bloomed off the Oregon coast, stressing fishermen and peaking biologists' interests. Intrigued by this bloom, we plan to study the reproduction of pyrosomes to answer how many eggs they produce, how long the production takes, if the size of the colony correlates to the size of the eggs, and why the population explosion occurred. We will also use histology to study these animals.
The week brought on a plan of action, where project ideas were clarified and specified. While I am doing what I love daily in lab, my nights are also full of fun with the interns. Every night brings on a new adventure whether it be a night on the beach of playing guitar and singing, a foosball tournament, or simply a long talk full of giggles with my new friends.
Hello! My name is Nicole Wegrzyniak. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and I moved to Santa Barbara, California in 2015, where I attended Santa Barbara City College. In the fall of 2017, I will be attending the University of California, Davis, where I will be studying animal biology. I have desired to be a veterinarian ever since I was a child, and I continue to reach for this; I wish to open my own animal clinic someday, where I will happily help heal animals. While pursuing this dream, I have participated in many sports, clubs, volunteering opportunities, and whatever else I can in order to experience more and enhance my life. I enjoy gaining cultural intelligence through much travel, and I also fancy hiking, doing yoga, making crafts, and grocery shopping.
I applied to the REU program because it seemed like an intriguing and helpful program that would teach me professional skills and provide research experience while having fun with a topic I am greatly interested in: marine biology. I am excited to be working with Craig Young as my mentor and Kaitlyn Beard, the other undergraduate student Craig is mentoring. I wish to get a lot out of this experience, and already, within the first week this has been the case. I have learned how to collect larvae with a plankton net and how to identify some of the local invertebrate larvae. Furthermore, I have become familiar with how to rear larvae under optimal conditions in vitro as well as other helpful lab techniques. We are discussing possible projects that involve reproductive biology, larval development, and the ecology of deep-sea invertebrates. Specifically, we have discussed investigating the larvae at different depths of the ocean, gonad histology of deep-sea brittle stars or amphipods, and investigating the effect of larval predation on population distributions. I am excited to further plan these projects, to design the experiments and learn how to analyze data.