Meet Sara: Enjoying the California Sun, Playing Underneath the Palm Trees

Postelsia palmaeformis, California's other palm, better known as the Sea Palm
Brynn Hooton-Kaufman

by Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, Phycology Lab

On any given month during a good low tide, you can usually find Sara scuttling amongst the crashing waves in the intertidal zone at Soberanes Point, searching on her hands and knees for palms.  No, not palm trees, but Sea Palms, known by the scientific name of Postelsia palmaeformis.  Rain or shine, day and night, Sara crawls around the boulders on the fringes of the tide pools to find new Sea Palm babies that have sprung up in her study area.


Sara sampling a plot in the wave-swept rocky intertidal, counting up Sea Palms

Sara is studying community interactions of seaweed in the rocky intertidal, and more specifically, she’s looking at what these baby Sea Palms grow on.  In some places along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest, Sea Palms only grow on bare rock where they can get a super good grip on the rocks to avoid being ripped off by mighty waves.  But here, along our Central California coast, Sara sees a different trend.  She sees Sea Palms mostly growing on intertidal coralline algae that creates a turf.  To find out more about Sara’s thesis project, and take a look at her Student Profile.  Also check back often for Sara’s first hand account of sampling in the rocky, wave-swept intertidal.

Sara is deep into her third year at Moss Landing Marine Labs, but even before she started graduate school she had many amazing adventures.  She studied for a semester abroad in the Galapagos Islands, worked as a behavioral ecologist, and studied humpback whales.  You can read more about her exciting experiences here.  Check back often for stories from Sara, and to hear more about her rocky intertidal endeavors with Sea Palms.

Meet Brynn: Diving into Seaweeds and Scuba

Brynn and other divers head out for a Reef Check survey dive at Big Creek Reserve during the 2010 MLML Marine Science Diving class
Brynn Hooton-Kaufman

by Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, Phycology Lab

I think it’s about time that I tell you about my adventures at Moss Landing Marine Labs.  I’m deep into my third year of grad school here, and I have yet to write a blog.  Well, things are about to change.  I want to share with you what it’s like to SCUBA dive in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, chase down an invasive seaweed in the harbor, and hike through ink-black caves for class.

Lots of experiences got me excited about science and ecology, and helped prepare me for graduate school.  You can read about the path I took to get to graduate school and all of its amazing opportunities in my student profile.  There I share my experiences working for the California Department of Fish and Game, and as a lab tech in the Wetland Ecology Lab at UC Davis.

Brynn sorting through samples of Undaria, fishes, and invertebrates in Monterey Harbor

You might be wondering why I’m chasing down an invasive seaweed in the harbor.  For my thesis I am investigating how native fishes and other organisms use the invasive Asian kelp Undaria pinnatifida for habitat in central California.  In my profile I explain why this topic is important to me, and in future posts I will tell you all about what it’s like to dive in Monterey Harbor to collect Undaria and other critters.

That’s all for now, but check back often for new posts, and thanks for letting me share my adventures with you!