Day 18: We’re Going To Need a Bigger Boat

Hello! This blog is brought to you by Naomi, Meg, and Ana.

Clouds and Scaffolding

The overcast weather was nothing new to PNW locals when we awoke this morning; the grey hues outside made us ever more reluctant to get out of bed. As we made our way through our morning routines – eating breakfast, getting dressed, learning the knot of the day – the sun began to wake up just as we did. 

Zooplankton and Silhouettes

We headed out to the lab on campus to grab equipment to help in Kira’s project data collection; then, we headed down to the Port of Friday Harbor and did some plankton tows! The fun wasn’t over yet, though – we then headed back to the lab where Kira and Miranda instructed us on how to prepare our acquired plankton for a silhouette scan. The pictures came out great!

After we finished recording our plankton silhouettes, we shared a quick lunch before our first group headed out for a trawl on the research vessel Kittiwake! The moment we had all been waiting for was finally here.

Islay, Ana, and Dustin’s phytoplankton silhouettes (Photo by: Islay, Ana, Dustin)

Foraging for Critters on the Kittiwake

Both groups had an amazing time on the Kittiwake as they searched through trawl hauls for invertebrates to bring back to the labs. It was like searching for treasure.

Trawl finds! (Photo By: Naomi)

Finds included multiple giant Apposticopus Californicus, a wide variety of sea stars, giant sea urchins, scallops, and lots of jumpy prawns. One group was lucky enough to have found a small shark in their haul!

Tim with the shark! (Photo by: Maddy)

Project Progress

While one group on the boat enjoyed seeking organism treasure, the other group was enjoying some much-needed project development time. Some of us ran experiment trials, some analyzed data, and some watched videos of sea star feeding sessions. It’s great to see the vast range of interesting questions and experimental designs we’ve all come up with!

Sea Star Culturing 

Tonight for dinner we had the pleasure to meet with Dr. Jason Hodin, a Wesleyan College graduate of biology and a Ph.D. of zoology from UW. He has worked with pycnopodia (a.k.a. Sunflower sea stars) over the past few years, focusing on the Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD) which became a worldwide epidemic in the early 2010’s and killed many stars and continues to affect most Sea Star species even today. We’ve already learned quite a bit about SSWD from Salish Sea Sciences Resident Scientist, Morgan Eisenlord, who was an early author on SSWD, but Dr. Hodin took us through his project of culturing sunflower stars to help repopulate the Friday Harbor area.

The purpose of his studies and experiments were to not only boost population numbers, but also to understand more about the life stages of the sunflower star. He showed us pictures of the pycnopodias’ stages of life — emphasizing the difference in appearance in the larval stage versus the adult/juvenile stage. We loved the presentation and had many questions digging into his expertise and fascinating work with the sunflower stars.

Final Thoughts

The time is flying by so fast. We can’t believe that this is already the third Thursday we have spent on San Juan Island. We can’t wait to make even more memories in our remaining days with our new, lifelong family.

Day 11: Canoe Believe It!!

Today’s blog was written by Naomi Scott, Elliott Jones, Estevan Torres, Islay Ross, Colette Bennett, and Abby Cooper.

Dry bags packed, bellies full of bagels, and water shoes strapped, we prepared for our canoe journey to Turn Island, a Washington Marine State Park part of the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge with Kaigani Canoe Voyaging.

Saying goodbye to Friday Harbor! Picture: Naomi Scott

Introductions and Islands

Upon arrival, we were introduced to Matt Wickey, the founder of Kaigani Canoe Voyaging society, a company bringing traditional canoe sailing methods to the Salish Sea. We also met his team (Rob, Dani, and Jen), and the canoes we would be traveling in, Hoku’ula and Kaigani. 

Matt is the leader and founder of Kaigani Canoe Voyaging. He’s a wildlife biologist who’s spent a large portion of his life in Hawaii and has recently moved to the San Juans. His time in Hawaii immersing himself in Hawaiian culture is his inspiration for bringing traditional Hawaiian canoes to the islands here. He’s a strong believer in sharing indigenous cultures with people from all over, which he hopes to convey through these experiences.

Soon we were able to get in the canoes and on the water. Colette, pictured below, was chosen to ride on Hoku’ula’s trampoline! We learned to row in sync and listened to Matt’s Hawaiian chant to bless our trip.

Colette chilling on the canoe trampoline. Picture: Naomi Scott

Rowing across the San Juan Channel was just as exciting as it was challenging. We were all happy to see land by the time we hauled our canoes up onto the rocky beaches of Turn Island. Once we set up our tents for the evening we were given a few hours to explore the island.

Oysters and Onions

After a long day of paddling and hanging out in the sun, we were pretty hungry, so we set up our camp stove and started to chop up zucchinis, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and chicken to make a really delicious chicken and veggie marsala.

Eating dinner. Picture: Islay Ross

While some of us prepared food for the stove, others of us searched for oysters. We carefully and successfully shucked over eighteen fresh oysters from the rocks around our camp. Some were enjoyed raw directly after being opened while others were cooked in the leftover marsala pan. Those of us who wished to feast on the shellfish!

Sunsets and Sleeping outside

Once we were bundled up in pajamas and full of warm, sweet apple crisp, we watched the sky turn pink and orange.

Enjoying apples and the sunset. Pictures: Naomi Scott, Islay Ross, Estevan Torres

Headlamps lit and bellies full we went hiking a bit after dinner to go find a rock to climb. The night involved a lot of scaring each other, tripping over roots, and carrying sticks to fend off any raccoons we may have come across. After we made it back to the campsite we settled down either in our tents or on the beach to sleep. 

Morning Visitors

Waking up on the beach that morning was oh, so special. The sound of the water lapping against the rocky pebbled beach was soothing as each of us woke up to the sounds of nature—something not often experienced by those of us who live in the city.

Estevan watching the water. Picture: Islay Ross

Suddenly, to the north, we spotted orcas. There were two: probably the mother and calf transient whales that have been spotted recently in the area. We watched for about a half-hour as the pair surfaced and resurfaced not far off the coast between San Juan and Shaw Island. Sometime before they disappeared, going south and out of sight, the two whales appeared to be playing as they splashed around their flukes. Nobody will forget that truly incredible moment on this adventure.

Pictures could not accurately represent our surreal experience. Photo: Naomi Scott

After a quick lunch, Matt and Dani explained to us the wonders of medicinal plants. A few of us really took to this idea and started planning out imaginary gardens in our heads. We learned that with a familiarity with the land, you can easily and safely take care of most ailments. 

By this point in the afternoon, we were feeling the effects of the sun. Thankfully Matt and his team had brought all of the ingredients necessary to make organic, chemical-free sunscreen right on the beach. We melted beeswax, zinc oxide, cocoa butter, and comfrey essences together to protect us. 

After we were thoroughly covered in sunscreen, we boarded our canoes and got ready for the paddle back to Friday Harbor. When we got back to San Juan Island some of us swam with the canoes!

The sail was full as we paddled back to San Juan Island. Picture: Naomi Scott

Arriving Home

We were told before we left that we weren’t allowed to tell the other group anything about what we had done because each trip is unique. They might not see things that we did, so we kept silent and talked about the few things we could, which wasn’t much.

We told the other group a few things about what we had done. They told us about what they had found and their day and a half without us. They told us about how they had gone on a scavenger hunt and how they went to the whale museum which we got to experience today. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the wild Salish Sea Platypuses the other group ran into while we were gone! 

We are looking forward to another night of bonding and brownies!

Day 20: Final Farewell

By: Naomi, Ashley, Jesse, Colette, Anders, Julia

Sunrise Start

The sunrise signals the start of a new day and a new beginning. We started off our last day by watching the sunrise in everyone’s hometowns. Nothing can bond a group like waking up at 4:45 to watch a sunrise.

Like the sunrise, we learned that while today might be the last day of the program, it’s certainly not the end of the book. Instead, today was the beginning of the next chapter. 

The friendships we have made and the lessons we have learned throughout this program will continue to follow us throughout our time. We can’t wait to see what the six of us accomplish.

Colette’s Colorado Sunrise
Salish Seas Sunrise
Seattle Sunrise
SoCal Sunrise

Feedback Frenzy

It’s impossible to wrap up an experience like this. Fortunately, Foundry10 lent us a hand in simplifying things.

We shared our feedback, positive and negative, about the program. Using those thoughts, we time-traveled to the year 2025 where we simulated a zoom reunion…

Our imaginations brought us across the galaxy. One of us was busy researching cancer on Mars, another had created a multi-million dollar flipper company, Julia was busy unearthing Spanish medallions in thousand-year-old shipwrecks, and a few were lucky enough to become roommates at the University of British Columbia…

We all shared a good laugh discussing our aspirations. 

Lovely, Long, Legendary, Lengthy, Lavish, Lush, Lasting List

Lunch led us to lists. Reminiscing on our four-week experience, we created a lovely, long, legendary, lengthy, lavish, lush, lasting list of guest speakers, topics, skills, and knots. 

This seemingly meaningless list indicates so much more than one would think. Each event listed shows our growth and development along the way.

Gracious Growth

Throughout the program, we’ve been ever so grateful for the multitude of guest lecturers; however, none of this would have been possible without the support of the Salish Sea Sciences team.

Derek, thank you for keeping the Zoom calls light and fun and directing this program! You have always made sure to keep us engaged. Our off-track conversations have taken us across the world and to the ninth planet. Thank you for your constant encouragement. Many of the things we go on to do following the program, wouldn’t have been possible without you. So we encourage you to continue to change the world. 

Kay, thank you for helping us along the way and teaching us about the wonderful butterflyfish! Your enthusiasm brought the program to a whole new level. You’ve supported us throughout our whole journey, and we can’t thank you enough for helping us grow as a whole. You are an amazing role model and we can’t wait to see you again!

Bea, thank you for showing us we can. Your journey to get where you are now followed so many twists and turns, but you got there. We admire your RESILIENCE and vigor to get where you want to go. We’re all hoping that starting today, we can recreate that in our own lives. Also, thank you for helping us with our independent projects, you helped guide us through our challenges.

Tom, thank you for always being there for us and listening to our suggestions for Salish Sea Sciences. You’re always open to hear our opinions on improvement and trust our judgment. You make us feel like true adults who can do anything we put our minds to. We admire your dedication to helping Morgan Eisenlord with your new program and we thank you for being just as dedicated to us in this program.

Last but most certainly not least, Caroline. Thank you for bringing us all together. You and Tom have created such an amazing, impactful program, and have changed so many lives for the better. Your constant support, advice, and mentorship throughout this program have been incredible and we can not thank you enough.

Thank you. 

This is the Makos and Bottlenose Dolphins, signing off… But not really. 😉

Final group photo

Day 18: Brain Brawl

By Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

The Terrific Trifecta

We’ve had plenty of lectures throughout the program. But none quite like this.

Today’s lecture was more of a discussion. The conversation members? Ray Troll, an astounding marine artist, Dr. Kirk Johnson, the director of THE Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, Dr. Milton Love, an inspiring ichthyologist, and the Salish Sea Sciences team.

After asking a few questions, we found that it was much more fun to sit back and listen to the three talk and catch up. As the buddies filled each other in, they provided us insight on various topics, from the malacosteus niger’s dislocated jaw to empty pandemic museum exhibits. 

Ray Troll vs. Anders

At one point, an artifact battle took place as each scientist tried to show us an even more impressive replica or skull! We have to say, Anders might have won the whole thing with his paper mache walrus head.

Watching the three scientific celebrities discourse this way is not something you get to be a part of every day. This is just one of the many amazing opportunities we have experienced over the past four weeks.

Deep Down Discoveries

As our conversation with the three titans came to a close, Megan Cook, a Manager of Education Partnerships and Programs at OET, joined our Zoom call. 

Megan mesmerized us with her octopus-covered whale skeleton and colorful underwater mapping diagrams. After explaining the motivation behind marine discoveries, Megan discussed all the different ways that OET uses underwater ROVs to explore and discover on the ocean floor. 

Mapping the Ocean Floor

Not only can the giant ROVs collect samples of different underwater organisms, but every expedition is live-streamed on Nautilus Live’s website!

Inside look at OET’s ROV

Matching one of the program’s main themes of discovering the many marine biology paths, Megan showed us the variety of people involved in making these expeditions possible. When these positions are combined, they make one big dream team that can accomplish amazing things!

ROV captures octopus brood around a whale carcass

Plentiful Poster Planning

In between the wonderful conversations we had with these knowledgeable guests, we were constantly working on our individual projects, specifically, our posters! With the majority of our research done and the poster session occurring tomorrow night, it was time to work on the public engagement step and share our results. It was crunch time!

Although this task may seem deceptively simple, the formatting and organizing practically fried our brains. We were able to collect loads of data, but if we didn’t present it in a clear manner, then hours of grueling research and analysis would go to waste. The task of trying to fit a research paper’s worth of information onto a single Google slide might have been the biggest challenge of the whole program. 😉

Despite the obstacles that we faced, the Salish team was able to pull through and design aesthetically pleasing posters. Tomorrow at 5:00 pm will be the true test as we will finally share our projects with the public. We can’t wait to see what our guests have to say!

Day 16: Captivating Creatures and Crammed Calendars

By: Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse


Today, we spoke with Dr. Emily Carrington, a biology professor at the University of Washington  who studies mussels and the ecophysiology of wave-exposed organisms. Dr. Carrington explained the many behaviors of mussels and their impact on the environment (aside from the amazing food). 

Dr. Carrington studies how the mussels attach, what causes these attachments to weaken, and how global warming impacts the mussels. The focus of Dr. Carrington’s lecture was the glue and byssus that mussels use to attach to rocks. These materials help the mussels stick to wet, salty surfaces, and keep them grounded when exposed to the elements. 

Are Dr. Carrington and her team on to a new type of super glue?

Comic of the waves’ impact on mussels.

And Snails!

Next up, Dr. Hilary Hayford, a coastal marine geologist who tracks the effects of climate change on nearshore species. She spoke to us about Dogwinkle (Nucella lapillus) snails and how the tides affect their feeding patterns. 

Her numerous experiments demonstrated when and how the snails forage. A snail’s journey to their prey – mussels – is long and dangerous as they are slow-moving and vulnerable to heat. The snails must time their trips wisely.

The Dogwinkle snails are unable to survive heat over 34º Celsius. They must forage during the two high-low tide cycles when the lowest tide occurs at night. This way, the outside temperatures will be cool enough for the snails to stay hydrated.

Dr. Hayford made it clear that the window of time to help these creatures survive the effects of global warming is small. Soon it will become too warm for the snails to make the long journey up to their food. However, climate change’s ticking time bomb doesn’t just impact the intertidal zones: practically every environmental ecosystem will be adversely influenced. We must act quickly!

Mussels in areas with high and low temperatures

And Octopuses!

Yep. You heard us right, octopuses! Dominic Sivitilli, a Ph.D. student in behavioral neuroscience and astrobiology, confirms that the plural of octopus is in fact “octopuses”.

The final hours of the day flew by as Dominic hypnotized us with videos of wandering octopus legs and suckers. These benthic beings are some of the most ecologically unique in the ocean. With camouflaging powers, soft bodies, and decentralized nervous systems, octopuses are quite an unusual intelligent being.

Dominic’s work mainly focuses on the nervous system of this intricate invertebrate. Thousands of suckers line the eight flexible arms of the octopus, each equipped with chemical and mechanical receptors. Each individual sucker is hundreds of times more sensitive than the human fingertip!

Armed with its own computational system, each sucker is constantly scouring the surrounding objects in order to decipher between food and foe. When one sucker finds something intriguing, it recruits its buddies in hopes of possessing the object.

An octopus examines its surroundings

Although the octopus is colorblind, it is mysteriously capable of amazing camouflage.

Oh My!

In between the constant, captivating lectures, we have been continuing to conduct our own research in hopes of making our own great scientific contributions.

Day 14: Future and Framework

By Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

Alone but Together

If we were to sum up today in one word it would be productive! We spent our 8 hours following a detailed schedule; something we haven’t done since the beginning of the program. There was work to be done!

From monitoring dolphins to designing t-shirts, everyone had something to do. Even while we worked on our projects individually, we were all connected through our usual Zoom room (a.k.a our second home). Through the main room, breakout rooms, and chats, our unity kept us motivated!

Engaging with the Public – Always Advancing Awareness

Today, Tom met with us in response to our email pitch for our new podcast-art engagement project. The new tab was a go! We all searched up the Salish Sea Sciences website as fast as possible to view the new update. The new outreach tab will take visitors to a webpage on which they can view informative blogs, podcasts, and artwork. We can’t wait to upload even more work. Stay tuned for more factual figures!

Final Version of Comic by Colette Bennett

Ever since Derek received the exciting news that Dr. Daniel Pauly, a celebrity in the world of fishery studies, would be joining us for a Zoom discussion tomorrow, we have been inspired. Dreaming big, we’ve brainstormed other famous figures to invite to our Zoom meetings. If Dr. Daniel Pauly will come and talk to us, who’s to say Sylvia Earle – a scuba diving star – won’t! 

With high hopes, we have emailed other inspirational individuals such as Al Gore, Angela Sun, Hank & John Green, and Leonardo DiCaprio. We eagerly await their responses! Even if one of our idols is able to join us, it will be the opportunity of a lifetime.

Engaging with the Private – Investigating Individual Ideas

Focusing more on our personal projects, we each took 15 minutes with Kay & Derek to discuss logistics and potential ideas that would spur our experiments. After researching and collecting data, we all had our share of tedious work. Despite the tasks, the outcomes were truly rewarding as we all made great headway (whether it was starting to analyze data or designing a pillbug container).

Naomi explores the tide pools at Cabrillo Beach.

Ander’s is conducting roly-poly studies.

Though we may all be conducting our research separately, there still remains what could possibly be the most important aspect of this program: the t-shirt. Throughout the program, some of the best artists of the group have been submitting t-shirt designs. Today was the day to decide which design we would use! Once the shirts arrive, Derek will screen-print the design onto the garment along with the names of the students in the program and the Salish Sea Sciences logo.

While it’s possible that we may never be in the physical company of one another, (which we hope isn’t true) these shirts will remind us of the ties (and knots) that we made in this program.

As the program end date starts to creep up on us, we have discussed ways to keep in touch with each other after this amazing experience ends. We agreed to update each other on our future endeavors and to never be afraid to reach out for support.

Time for our daily cheer!

Day 12: Researchers and Repetition

By Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

Researchers helping researchers from afar

When you think about the people affected by Covid-19, patients and essential workers immediately come to mind. But the underlying effects of the coronavirus branch much farther than the doctor’s office. As far as the Salish Seas. 

The Salish Seas and other marine science data collection hubs around the world are inaccessible to many researchers this summer due to the effects of Covid-19. Scientists are unable to visit their typical research areas leading to data gaps, unproductive summers, and incomplete research projects with years worth of data. 

However, the Salish Sea Sciences team was able to help out one of these scientists today; specifically, we had the chance to go out and collect earwigs for Dr. Vikram Iyengar. 

Earwig Encounters 

Dr. Iyengar studies sexual selection and dimorphism in maritime earwigs (Anisolabis maritima). (Dimorphism is when opposite sexes have physical differences other than their sexual organs). This entomologist is one of the many scientists who has volunteered their time to speak with our cohort about their work. These scientists are truly interested in what we are doing and we couldn’t be more grateful.

In an attempt to repay his kindness, we watched from afar as the team collected maritime earwigs for Dr. Iyengar’s labs. They turned over driftwood and scooped the bugs into a tub as fast as they could. They then packed the earwigs in little vials and made sure they were ready for their flight to Philadelphia. Have a safe trip little arthropods!!

We watched as the team collected earwigs and placed them in tubes.

As we watched, we were able to learn even more about the Earwigs habitat. Tim Dwyer – a high school teacher who has an Antarctic giant sea spider collection, ancient pottery surveying experience, and who has explored the deep sea using ROVs – explained why the earwigs were being collected and demonstrated how to identify the earwigs’ sex. As we learned yesterday during Dr. Iyengar’s lecture, the male earwigs have asymmetrically curved pincers while the females have straighter ones.

The very first earwigs to be collected!

They even found an albino earwig! We wonder how rare these are.

Tedious tasks 

Last week we had the chance to speak with Morgan Eisenlord about her research on eelgrass wasting disease. Morgan introduced us to the methods required to measure the infected lesions of the grass blades. Today we were able to give back by helping her measure the area of different eelgrass blades. This process was new to almost all of us, and as we downloaded ImageJ and began to measure, we realized why Morgan had left the task for us! The tedious task had us fried! 

Despite this mental setback, we powered through, and the Salish team made noticeable progress on the data collection. We will continue to analyze Morgan’s data as the program goes on.

Podcasts and Planning

Since Colette was unable to record the Mako’s podcast yesterday due to data collection for her individual project, Derek and Kay split us up into 2 different breakout rooms. The Makos worked on the recording, while the Bottlenose Dolphins planned for future outreach projects.

The Bottlenose Dolphins researched and found different topics and media to spread awareness of environmental issues. Our ultimate goal, create a page on the Salish Sea Sciences website with podcasts and artwork on environmental conservation. Stay tuned for future developments!

Here is a sneak peek of a comic strip for our most recent podcast episode.

In the meantime, please enjoy this podcast from the Bottlenose Dolphins on A Decade After Deepwater, the documentary we had the fortune of seeing before it was released! Click on the link or search for A Decade After Deepwater Review on Spotify.

Day 10: Labs and Larvae

By: Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

On our own

When we started our journey two weeks ago, we were just a group of six teenagers excited to learn, and we had no idea what was in store for us. Throughout the past seven labs, we have learned about different topics and practiced skills that we will carry with us throughout our science careers. Today we took on Lab 8.

Lab 8, our final lab of the week, was different from labs we’ve conducted before. Derek and Kay’s lab guidance has prepared us for today’s challenge. It was time to create and conduct our own data collection labs. Our only help, a google doc template, and partners! From ice melting to grass biodiversity, our class studiously and efficiently conducted our individual experiments over the next few hours.

Ashley and Jesse’s results for Lab 8. The pair measured the difference between the time it took for the ice to melt in Diamond Bar, CA compared to Seattle WA.


After 3 ½ hours of data collection, lab conducting, and lunch, we were greeted by Bea Grauman-Boss, our guest lecturer for today. Bea researches marine biology, cancer treatments, and more. When Bea went to Cambridge University, her professor told her to try everything. From MIT research to sand dollar larvae cloning, Bea has done it all!

Bea started off by introducing us to the rabbit overpopulation on San Juan Island and the impact they have on the Yellow Marble Butterflies (Euchloe hyantis).

While you might think that marine biology and pancreatic cancer have nothing in common, Bea – and now us – would beg to differ. Bea’s research in sand dollar larvae growth development and cloning placed her on her current path, developing cancer treatment. While she never thought of ending up doing this, Bea is so happy to be in her current position.

Bea’s presentation on her studies of pancreatic cancer

Bea discussed the difference in growth rates for sand dollar larvae caused by predatorial presence and food amounts.

The end of week two!

To conclude the day we all took 5 minutes to discuss and expand our own ideas for potential projects. Each of us came up with excellent research questions and plans for pilot testing this weekend. Our discussion helped us through our ideas and ways we could find data around our neighborhoods. 

At the end of the week, we reflected on how quickly week 2 flew by (even when compared to week 1)! Although there are definitely restraints to working online, we have made the most of this situation and can’t wait to begin our projects.

Day 8: Seaweed and Statistics!

By Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

We all know about the current pandemic facing the human race today. But what we don’t know about are the pandemics that are evolving below the surface. 

Morgan Eisenlord from the Friday Harbor Labs enlightened us on one of the many major diseases facing our marine creatures today. The eelgrass wasting disease, not dissimilar to the sunflower sea star wasting disease, eats away at eelgrass plants throughout the Salish Seas.

Morgan discussed the labs she conducted to determine if increased water temperature is an eelgrass wasting disease trigger. She showed us pictures of infected and healthy eelgrass and demonstrated how, using Image J, we could find the area of a disease lesion.

This is unaffected seagrass that is happily thriving. 🙂

Earlier that morning, we, the Bottlenose Dolphins, introduced Dr. Dobkowski, a phycologist and visiting assistant professor at Bates College. The seaweed expert described the various research systems that she uses in order to conduct different macroalgal labs. One of these techniques involved using a combination of transects and quadrats in order to measure kelp abundance in different intertidal terrains. Her research demonstrated that there is less kelp diversity in the wave-exposed cobble zone due to environmental pressures such as solar and tidal.

Before she said goodbye, she discussed her lab feeding research on kelp crabs. Her main goal was to determine the crabs’ feeding preferences. Dr. Dobkowski conducted an experiment measuring the amount of three types of kelp eaten by the crabs in the lab. From this experiment and many others, she was able to deduce that a kelp crab diet consists of bull kelp, sea snails, and sargassum.

This is a kelp bed like the one from Dr. Dobkowski’s studies.

After listening to Dr. Dobkowski’s presentation, we moved on to finishing Kay’s presentation from yesterday. Kay finally showed us the results of her butterflyfish research! She explained how she used linear regression, T-tests, and ANOVA to demonstrate butterflyfish behavior. By comparing the two reef sites where she conducted her research she found that aggression was less common in the degraded reef compared to the healthy reef.

After a long day of lectures and lesions, we received a quick blogging lesson from Caroline to wrap up the day. She showed us ways that we could liven our future blogs. Let’s see if you can notice any of the changes!

Day 6: Necropsy and Nomenclature

By Naomi, Ashley, and Jesse

**Broadcasting from Team Bottlenose Dolphins…

First thing Monday morning we logged in to the Zoom call and were greeted with a view of the Salish seas from the dock where the necropsy of an adult harbor seal and two pups would be taking place. Not long after 9:00, Dr. Joe Gaydos and his team began the pre-examination of the adult harbor seal. One of the few signs of death was the blood coming from a small laceration in the seal’s head. The team was also able to notice a larger bump around the lower part of the seal, meaning it was likely pregnant or had a tumor. They tapped on the belly, and the jiggly consistency led them to believe that the seal was either pregnant or had lots of internal bleeding. It turned out to be the latter. As they made the first incision across the top of its back and measured the seal’s blubber layer, blood started to pour out of the carcass. From the moment the seal was opened, Dr. Gaydos immediately began making guesses as to how the seal died. It could have been hypovolemia as there was internal bleeding throughout its body (even in the chest cavity), trauma such as the seal hitting its head (possibly causing the internal bleeding), infections in organs such as the uterus, or other underlying causes such as disease. Throughout the necropsy, Dr. Gaydos cut off samples of different organs of the seal and placed them in a jar filled with formalin in order to preserve them for further testing. Even though they are in the same jar, they will all look unique under the microscope. Dr. Gaydos placed certain organs in plastic bags for bacteria testing, and he even took teeth samples in order to determine the age of the seal. Scientists at another lab would cut open the tooth and count the number of rings on it to tell the age, not dissimilar to how one would tell the age of a tree. Dr. Gaydos went on to show us signs of the seal twisting and turning before it died. This was clear to see because of the way the intestines and other organs were all mixed up and in the wrong place. We were also able to see other vital organs such as the eyes and brain throughout the necropsy. Although we were not actually on-site, Derek and Kay informed us of the funky smell coming from the seal, that was strong even when spectating from afar.

When Dr. Gaydos was finished with the adult, he and his team went on to dissect two seal pups. Both stranded, one was found seizing (possibly due to trauma of glucose imbalances). The other pup was found with a swollen nose due to a mink bite. The team made the decision to euthanize the pup with the mink bite when it was first found in order to put it out of its misery. Using a similar chemical to the ones used to put down pets, they euthanized the pup in order to match nature (natural selection). To ensure that the chemicals from the euthanization would not leak into the ocean, Dr. Gaydos and the other experts decided to perform the necropsy within a plastic bag.

Halfway through dissecting the second pup, Derek’s phone ran out of battery, and the video resultantly stopped streaming. Due to this technical issue, we had to head out to lunch instead of watching the rest of the necropsy. After coming back from lunch, we reflected on the necropsy; some of us hadn’t seen a dissection of a seal before but we were glad to have this opportunity. We then discussed the different ways Dr. Gaydos examined the seal and how he had observed the trauma the seals had gone through.

Our next task was learning the knot of the day – the double fisherman knot. Some of us had trouble figuring it out, but we will continue to practice it along with the other knots we have previously learned. 

Later in the day, we learned about Carl Linnaeus and his work in taxonomy throughout his life. After learning about him, we (the Bottlenose Dolphins) created a Kahoot game about Carl Linnaeus for the Makos, Derek, and Kay. After the fun round of Kahoot, we finished the PowerPoint Kay was presenting and learned how to identify different species of animals. After the presentation, we set off to collect data on 10 different species of animals, bugs, or plants we could find in our own environment. We then inputted our data and compared it to what others had found. Our final activity of the way was analyzing the data we collected from last Friday. Thanks to Derek’s help inputting data into an nMDS chart, we were able to compare our data and find the differences.

We wrapped up the day by sharing our joys and challenges with the rest of the group; although we had a few challenges throughout the day like Derek’s phone dying, it didn’t stop us from having a fun time!

Seal before dissection

Seal after incision

Dr. Gaydos examining intestines

Seal Skull (with eyes)