Posted by: atomfullerene | May 14, 2008

Graduation, Diving, Parents

A fair amount of stuff has happened recently, but I haven’t posted about it. I have a good excuse though, I was lazy! But it is undoubtedly time for an update now-sorry for this post being enormous. Marine birds and mammals ended a while back. It was a good class, and I was happy with it. And then Beth and Liz graduated, while Litzy had a birthday. We threw them a big party, which was a lot of fun. Zach and Maggie made graduation hats, there were garbage bag robes, diplomas, and speeches. We went to the park and had them walk across the stage, did the whole graduation deal, as well as birthday stuff for Litzy. Cakes and signs were easy because all three were named Elizabeth, we just combined them.  Here’s a picture of the graduates taken by Anya (I forgot my camera).

That same day we went diving for fun at ship rock, which was also fun. It was probably my favorite dive here so far. Ship rock is a little pinnacle of rock jutting out of the bay, which we circumnavigated over the course of our dive. There was a lot of cool stuff to see down there, and some underwater rocks that were fun to play on.  The pictures below were taken by Zach, who is lucky enough to have an underwater camera.

This is ship rock.  You can see there isn’t much to it.

There was a lot more beneath the water though.  The kelp is a whole lot of fun to dive in.  Its like flying through a forest.  It has a golden tint which just doesn’t show up in these photos.

There are a lot of colorful animals around too.  Perhaps not quite as much variety as on the reefs, but still a lot to see.  Here we have a Garibaldi, some anemones, and a couple of nudibranchs.

Here I am doing a Zissou pose on a handy rock outcropping.

Then our final class began. We spawned sea urchins to look at the response of their gene expressions to increased CO2 and temperature. I could do a whole post about this, if I had thought to take pictures. Spawning sea urchins is kind of funny. The basic strategy is to make them think they are going to die. This causes them to release eggs or sperm (they are external fertilizers) out of a hole in the top of their body. The two main methods are shaking the urchins (not a little shake either, we are talking a full minute or two of mariachi level action) or injecting them with KCl. Then you collect the gametes, mix them together in seawater, and vioala! baby urchins! We had a complicated mad-scientist contraption to keep them at different co2 levels, complete with bubbling hoses and numerous containers.  All forms of science are made better by bubbling hoses.

Finally, we extracted RNA from the larvae and some tube feet we pulled off the urchins (poor urchins!-but they do grow back).  We placed the RNA on a gel, ran the gel, and got results which really made no sense.  But we got nice clear lines on the gel, which is better than I have ever done before.

Stay tuned…Today I leave on a coastal trip to Santa Barbara (not the island or the channel, but the city) and Monterey.   It should generate some  nice pictures!

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