Our San Francisco Bay Marine Biology class went on a weekend-long field trip to the Monterey area. The trip allowed us to explore several different habitats that form where the ocean meets the land.
We spent Friday afternoon collecting data on two trips coordinated by Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students, a program of the National Marine Sanctuary. We collected data at Asilomar Beach, a sandy beach habitat, by setting up transects and taking sand cores. We searched for mole crabs, found them andrecorded their sex and size. This was part of an ongoing study that looks at changes in abundance of these organisms.
After completing the sandy beach study, we moved to Point Pinos and worked on the rocky intertidal study site. Although the tide was not low enough for us to have access to the permanent transect here, we still collected information using the vertical transect method. While we were out scouring the tide pools, we also saw a sea otter hauled up on the rocks!
After camping overnight in Monterey, we headed up to Elkhorn Slough to investigate an area where fresh water meets the ocean. We hiked down to the slough and pulled a few crab pots that researchers are monitoring. After identifying the crabs, we set them free. We also did a plankton tow and took the sample up to look at under microscopes in the lab. We finished our trip with an afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Here are a few of the highlights from our classmates:
Chase and Jake liked visiting Elkhorn Slough and pulling crab pots. They learned that the same crab pot just a day ago caught different species of crabs, so Chase and Jake hypothesized about the different lifestyles of these species.
Jason and Kai enjoyed the aquarium because, having previously studied the different organisms, they could identify them in the tanks and understand how they lived.
Kaiya and Alena liked viewing the diatoms and copepods under a microscope at Elkhorn Slough. These organisms came from the plankton tow we conducted while hiking around at the Slough.
Emma enjoyed the vertical transect study at the intertidal beach because she could see all of the different algae that we had learned to identify in class.
Jackson liked seeing the immortal jelly fish in the new jellyfish exhibit in the aquarium. He also liked the upside-down jellyfish that lives sitting on the bottom like an anemone.
Weston really liked using the sand core and digging up mole crabs.
Tristan found two species of nudibranchs in the tidepools.
Haley and Kiyona liked the tiny six-legged star fish we found in a tide pool.