The Pets of Moss Landing Marine Labs

By Lauren Cooley, MLML Vertebrate Ecology Lab

At this point in the pandemic, I think we all know that working from home is a real drag, but for many of us, one of the few redeeming aspects is getting to spend way more time with our pets! From quarantine puppies to beloved bunnies to troublemaking cats, these creatures have brought us comfort and joy during these deeply stressful times. Sure our whole lives take place on Zoom now, but there is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing your professor hold up their cat to greet the class or watching your colleague's dog chase their tail in the background during an important meeting.

One day while I was sitting in my home office (kitchen table) working with my intern (cat) on a very important project (stopping her from eating my datasheets), I got to thinking about all the other Moss Landing Marine Labs pets out there "helping" my friends and colleagues with their work. And thus the idea for this blog post was born! At first I wasn't sure that anyone would respond to my mass email with the subject line "Calling all hard working MLML pets! πŸ•πŸΈπŸŸπŸˆβ€β¬›πŸ°" (yes I did put those emojis in an email, I am extremely professional), but wow was I wrong. My inbox was quickly flooded with shockingly cute pet photos and it is my great honor to share them with you all now. So without further ado, I present to you the pets of Moss Landing Marine Labs!

The Hard Workers

I was very impressed to see that many MLML pets have extremely strong work ethics! From reading scientific papers to coding to helping with coursework, these pets have been hard at work making valuable contributions to the scientific community over the last year.

Peanut reviews Vertebrate Ecology Lab grad student Sharon Hsu's latest manuscript draft
Miska helps Ichthyology Lab grad student Matt Jew with a thesis figure
Some pets even contribute to fieldwork! Here Coco le Blanc and Cinnamon Toast assist Captain Brian Ackerman of MLML Marine Ops with King Tides surveys in Elkhorn Slough.
Benji and Mocha chastise Ichthyology Lab grad students Hannah Bruzzio and Alora Yarbrough for taking yet another break from their work
Fox assists Vertebrate Ecology Lab grad student Jenni Johnson with edits
Kiki helps Geological Oceanography Lab grad student Bri Sotkovsky study for her phys oce exam
Frank performs data quality control checks on Ichthyology Lab grad student Katie Neylan's data sheets

The Sleepers

It probably comes as no surprise that not all MLML pets are fully dedicated to their work. In fact, many of them seem to have slept their way through the entire pandemic! Oh to be a fuzzy animal sound asleep next to your frantically working owner...

My cat Honey naps in the sunshine while I work on a presentation.
Elsie takes a relaxing afternoon nap after another stressful day of distracting Vertebrate Ecology Lab grad student Shawn Hannah from her work
Scrat sleeps on a pile shoes instead of the many soft cat beds Vertebrate Ecology Lab grad student Kali Prescott has provided for him.
Milo naps next to Ichthyology Lab grad student Juliana Cornett
Blackberry lounges on Vertebrate Ecology Lab grad student Sierra Fullmer's lap.
Milo takes a midday nap in his stylish shark hat while Ichthyology Lab grad student Kinsey Matthews works to support his lavish fashion needs

The Distractions

Some MLML pets are scholars. Others are nappers. In this community we love all pets, but we cannot pretend that they are all as concerned with our work as we are. Which leads me to our final group of MLML pets... the distractions. These pets are known to interrupt Zoom meetings, bark on conference calls, and walk on top of keyboards while their owners are on tight deadlines. But it's hard to stay mad at them when they are just so dang cute!

Latte discovers an amazing trick: if you sit on your owner's keyboard, they can't do any work! Ichthyology Lab grad student Alora Yarbrough hopes Latte will someday forget this trick, but he never does.
Gus notices Phycology Lab grad student Sloane Lofy making good progress on her thesis and decides now is an excellent time to play.
Frisco takes a snooze in research faculty member Holly Bowers' arms. Emails can wait when there is a tired cat in need of snuggles!!
Poppy begs MPSL Associate Program Director Autumn Bonnema to hang up her conference call and join her on the couch.
Milo enjoys a beautiful day in the yard while MLML Visiting Scientist Scott Shaffer is stuck indoors working on the computer.
Pearl does some distracting bunny yoga while Ichthyology Lab grad student Juliana Cornett reads a paper.
Tilly tries to convince research associate Dustin Carroll to get off the computer and go play!
Babie & Addie provide bountiful distractions for MOBY programmer Stephanie Flora.
Puma begs MLML Assistant to the Director Kathleen Donahue to stop working and give her some scratches

Closing Thoughts

My most trusted colleague

As I write the closing words for this blog post, my cat Honey is sound asleep on the chair next to me. Thinking back over the past year spent working from my kitchen table, beyond the seemingly never ending Zoom calls and stressful Covid cancellations, what I will remember most about this pandemic phase of my grad school experience is Honey's steadfast companionship. She has joined me in meetings, sat on my lap as I wrote grant proposals, watched me process data, and always had a purr or two ready when I needed them most.

Not to get overly sentimental on a silly school blog post about pets, but I am immensely grateful for this sweet cat and the many other MLML pets featured in this post. I hope you have enjoyed seeing their photos as much as I have enjoyed compiling them. So until the end of Covid and our eventual return to normal office/lab life, enjoy this extra time with your pets! I know I will.