Marine Biology

Bight '13 Blog

Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program 2013 Trip

  • Leg 1: July 22-27, 2013
  • Leg 2: August 20-23, 2013

Among the Occidental College crew onboard the R/V Yellowfin we have three Oxy scientists, and three undergraduate research students!

Track the Ship

August 23, 2013

Heading back to LA now!

This trip truly flew by, and today especially. We finished three trawls by 11:00am (go team!), despite being again flooded with fish. We did have a very exciting first trawl with the catch of a three foot long California torpedo ray. Charged with electricity, these guys have the capacity to knock a man unconscious. Not many new fish species were caught, but we did have a huge abundance of lizard fish, yellow-chin sculpins, and pipefish on the last trawl. New inverts included HUGE short spine sea stars, decorator crabs, pregnant slender crabs (get those guys some Preggie Pops!) and a sea mouse polychaete. We’re currently all just lounging around, waiting to get back to port so we can give the Yellowfin the deep clean it deserves.

Thanks so much for following our journey! Hope you all enjoyed...

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August 22, 2013

Happy 22nd binhday Birth!

Work hard, play hard seems to be the motto of today. Before the trawls began, we woke up bright and early to Adrienne pondering whether she could microwave a metal mug and Ryan recounting a harrowing experience of almost peeing in his bunk (there is an unfortunate drip above him).  However, we got a great start to the day and managed to successfully carry out four consecutive trawls. Because we were trawling mainly between 100 and 200m, our catches were heavy in fish (especially those darn flat fishzdisoubgadiofubagiuab!!) In invert world, we had a ton of urchins (boring, sorry Steve), basket stars (very cool, check out our photos!), a hermit crab that at first glance appeared to just be a gigantic sponge (turns out there’s a symbiotic relationship going on here), a cryptic box crab, and some...

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August 21, 2013

Today was our second day of trawling!

Before we delve in, we must recap the events of last night. Chelsea, Ryan, and Adrienne took a chance at some night fishing under the full moonlit seas. While they didn’t catch anything, it was a great night to see some “floating squid”, as John put it, at the surface of the waters. Pods of squid are attracted to the light of the full moon and we’ve heard they can be seen swimming figure eights and circles around boats. Just as we thought we weren’t going see anything, a pod of small squid appeared out of nowhere at the surface of the water and vanished almost instantly, like lightening. We were all very excited!

As for today’s events, we had quite a bit more work to do than yesterday with five trawls spanning the afternoon. We woke up early, fully refreshed...

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August 20, 2013

What did the nudibranch say to the mollusk?

“With fronds like these who needs anemones!”

Hilarious, am I right?

After hearing rumors of tumultuous seas, knee deep catches of urchins, and hours spent measuring 3,000 pacific sand dabs, we began our first day of trawling slightly apprehensive. Lucky for us, today could not have gone better. First stop: 493m down off the coast of Point Dume, Malibu. For invertebrates, our trawl yielded a fair amount of fragile urchins; really cool, weapon like, pancake style, flat sea stars; cute and adorable octopuses; a few sea slugs, and a couple shrimp. As for the fish, we caught rock fish, pacific sole, a slimy hagfish, poachers, a big sand paper skate, California headlight fish, and sable fish, just to name a few. On this first trawl we also dropped five regular sized styrofoam cups along with the net. All five were beautifully decorated by our...

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July 26, 2013

"Salp central LA" - Denis Mahaffey

The crew set out for our last day of work around Santa Cruz Island with hopes of completing our final four trawls. The marine layer lifted to reveal a beautiful windy but sunny day. We worked up the first trawl in record time and moved on to the deepest trawl of the whole trip. At 460m with deeeeeep continental slopes, this site turned out to be the most challenging. The bottom-trawling net kept rolling on itself then one of the wooden boards of the net broke off (confused? ME TOO). It took us three times to bring up substantial animals (catsharks, look them up please!). With plenty of cable to let down and haul back up, we snuck in the last film from the Austin Powers series and chowed down on some scrumptious cheeseburgers. The third and fourth trawls went by easily since the whole crew...

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July 25, 2013

To prove that we had mastered our flatfish and urchin-sorting skills on our fourth day...

the crew decided to celebrate it by completing 6, yes SIX, sites today. After a night anchoring off Cojo Anchorage with only claustrophobic showers and toilet on the R/V Yellowfin, we set off at 5:30am again and started the first of the SIX trawls promptly at 7 am. Long story short, instead of a war between the FISH and INVERTS ppl like how the writer pretended to depict last blog, the whole day built on a perfectly coordinated collaboration between two groups! Since each trawl brought humongous (I thought this wasn’t an official English word!!!) TONS of either fish or inverts, never balanced amounts between the two. One group once finished with their challenging work would promptly run to the other side of the boat to help out the other team. With only a 15-minute lunch break, the R/V Yellowfin...

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July 24, 2013

“Wait, can I still CHANGE my major back to DWA?”

Since we anchored at Cojo Anchorage at Point Conception last night, we were without internet, and uploaded the post as soon as we were back within range of civilization.

“Since it was dark, I cant find the hole,” “Bonnie forever changed my life,” “DAMNIT YOU SWELLS” and “I’M DONE BEING A MARINE BIOLOGIST” were few things that could be heard on the deck by the end of today. As we left the comfort of the dead-flat harbor of Santa Barbara at 5:30am with much energy and naive optimism, we were totally unaware of what Mother Ocean had in store for us. The first two trawls, all over 450 meters deep, were just a piece of sea-star cake for the crew containing low numbers of cat sharks, brisaster, orange brittle stars, rockfish...

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July 23, 2013

Our second day started when the boat left dock at 6:00 am. 

The crew was joined by Steve and Don, our inverts experts, and Jeremy, our other VRG family member/fish-butcher. Dana threw a fit after being told to go sleep in the wheel house to make room for Steve. We did five trawls between Isla Vista, south of UCSB and San Miguel Island. Our net hit 460 meters, possibly the deepest spot yet. The amount of animals brought up in the net each time was massive. Because of the endless flow of animals pouring down our buckets and trays, the crew split up into the FISH people and the INVERTS people. FISH people boasted that they caught deep sea gulper eel, hilarious snail fish, meowing cat sharks, blown up rockfish which eyes near the point of exploding, and ALMOST a baby Mola. Certainly our two biggest fish of the trip yet were a black gill rock fish and a...

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July 22, 2013

With a crew of eleven aboard the R/V Yellowfin, we left from the dock of the Southern California Marine Institute in San Pedro headed for the Port of Santa Barbara.

Knowing this was a 14-hour boat trip we expected plenty of down time. On our way we collected two bottom trawls off the coast of Malibu around Point Dume—much more diverse and bountiful than we expected. We identified, measured, weighed and preserved over twenty species of fish that numbered in the thousands and 16 different species of invertebrates totaling a few hundred organisms. We were busy working from 10:00am to 4:30pm and were very happy to have a huge, hot dinner waiting for us prepared by our own chef from Oxy. We finally arrived at the port and were very thankful to have some downtime and catch a beautiful sunset. Cant wait for what tomorrow has in store for us!


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July 18, 2013

Summer 2013 Research Trip: Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program

This summer, the Vantuna Research Group is participating in a contract to conduct otter trawl surveys of the soft-bottom marine habitats. The last time the Vantuna Research Group did this work (Bight '08), we did 9 trawls off of Oceanside and 19 in the Santa Barbara Channel.  This year we are responsible for completing 36 trawls all in the Santa Barbara Channel and the Northern Channel Islands. We have broken down our research cruises into two seperate trips. All six of our undergraduate research students are able to take part in these surveys, with three on each trip that will be responsible for the nightly blogging. Since these trips are only contracted every 5 years, this is a once in a lifetime experience for students! We will spend 5-7 days and nights onboard the...
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