Stillwater Cove is one of the best studied kelp beds in the world. Moss Landing Marine Lab’s very own Mike Fox is studying giant kelp growth in Stillwater. The R/V John Martin took a group out to tag giant kelp in order to more easily locate them when they go reproductive. Large blades called sporophylls cover the holdfast and make it difficult to see the tags, so we attached white lines to a nearby winged kelp algae.
During Open House, you can come on down to the Phycology Lab (from phykos, meaning seaweed) and check out different red, green and brown algae. Learn about agar and carrageenan, which are polysaccarides or carbohydrates that come from algae. They are in shampoo, diet shakes, soy milk, toothpaste and even ice cream! We will most likely have some ice cream for people to see the carrageenan in the ingredients and do a taste test!
By Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, Phycology Lab
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months diving, tidepooling, and digging through rotting wrack on the beach in search of seaweeds. Sometimes I get skunked, driven out by the swell, weather, and even tsunamis. Sometimes I spend hours searching around, just to find that the seaweed I want isn’t even in season, and is nowhere to be found.
But we all know it’s the victories that count. When I march back up to the car, spoils of battle in hand, laden with the seaweeds to be used in the following week’s class, I’m pretty pleased with myself. And unfailingly, I run into someone on the way. “What did you catch?” they usually ask.
“Seaweed!” I proudly announce, waiting for what will hopefully be an enthusiastic response. But usually, the responses fall a little flat. Often they come in a variety of “hmm, that’s interesting” or some sort of feigned interest. I can’t say I really blame them. Seaweed isn’t quite a trophy fish that you would pose with in a picture (although most phycologists have), and most people don’t have much experience with it.
I didn’t have much experience with seaweed either before I started graduate school at MLML. To be honest, I really didn’t know what phycology was at all, even though I was joining the Phycology Lab. Kelp forest ecology was my main interest, and more specifically I wanted to study how organisms use kelp as habitat. If that was going to make me a phycologist, that was fine by me. Read more
One of the best parts of Moss Landing Marine Labs is getting out into the field after learning in the classroom, and applying your knowledge outside. We ask questions like, Why does this particular organism occur where it does? You begin to notice that a particular type of algae loves waves or that banana slugs eat dead plant material like redwood bark. Taking walks around the local state parks, such as Henry Cowell, can be an eye opening experience everyone can do. Just be careful where you step, the UC Santa Cruz mascot is right at your toes!
On a recent Moss Landing Marine Lab field trip, the Biology of Seaweeds class went exploring north of the bay for different types of marine algae. The algae pictured here is a really tough one compared to the others. The Sea Palm, Postelsia palmaeformis, lives in the harsh crash zone of the intertidal. It loves intense wave motion and lives on hard red algae. Due to over-harvesting the little palm is now protected and illegal to collect. It looks like a nice view but I don’t think I could take the punishment of having this kind of beach-front property!
This lush crop of sea palms, or Postelsia palmaeformis, has colonized the wave-swept edge of the rocky intertidal. MLML student Sara Hutto is studying these algae for her thesis – learn more about her adventures dodging waves in the surf zone!
It’s a few steps up from pressing flowers in the pages of your phone books, but the concept is the same. Phycology student Sara Hutto shows an algal press from the MLML herbarium (that’s plant collection) to teachers from the Teacher Enhancement Program. Drying seaweeds is an easy, compact way to store the plants for later study – and it also produces great decorations for cards.
Invertebrate zoology student Kristin Meagher (right) helps middle and high school science teachers identify seaweeds using a dichotomous key (you know, one of those “If it’s green, go to step 2, if it’s another color go to step 3” kind of deals – kind of like a choose your own adventure story for scientists). Kristin is a teaching assistant for MLML’s Teacher Enhancement Program, and was helping with a summer workshop that introduces middle and high schools science teachers to marine-related lab and field activities they can incorporate into their curricula.
This isn’t a spooky scene from a movie, it’s a photo that undergrad MLML intern Sarah Jeffries took on a dive. Sarah is looking up at two giant kelp plants, and you can see the bubbles that she just exhaled rising toward the surface. This dive at Monastery Beach in Carmel Bay was a great way to enjoy the serene underwater landscape and remind Sarah why she loves marine science.