QuikSCience Catalina Expedition 2012
Daily blog of
the Catalina Expedition:
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center, Catalina Island
Kamehameha High School
Santa Monica High School
Day One – Saturday, June 30, 2012
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center tour and touch tank species identification, Kayak to Two Harbors, Snorkeling at Big Fishermen’s Cove, Algae pressing, Plankton towing and identification lab.
Jordan -My favorite activity today would have to be snorkeling. I enjoyed this because we were able to see leopard sharks, bat rays, and many different species of fish. Being able to participate in this activity was amazing because at home, in Hawaii, when we swim with sharks we are usually in a cage and you don’t get the full experience. Also, seeing how the variety of different habitats in one location of the bay is super interesting. I’m so excited to be able to snorkel tomorrow night to see how different the ocean life changes during the night as opposed to the day.
Angelina -Today was an eventful and fun-filled day. We were able to touch sea creatures such as sea cucumbers, sea stars, and - a lobster in the touch tanks. The scenery was purely amazing. We kayaked to Two Harbors and were able to see the island from a different point of view. My favorite part of the day was the snorkeling activity. Snorkeling started off with a very challenging task: putting on wetsuits. Everyone was wrestling with the wetsuits, trying to put them on and zip them up. Once we were all geared up, we jumped into the ocean. We were able to see bat rays, leopard sharks, kelpfish, and much more. The leopard sharks came very close to our snorkeling group when we stayed completely still. This snorkeling experience has made me anticipate the night snorkeling tomorrow!
Cassandra – We began the day with the touch tank and ending with a night tow for bioluminescent dinoflagellates. During the middle of the day we had several adventures, beginning with a kayak around Two Harbors, followed by an awesome lecture from Larry about hyperbaric chambers, actually being able to go 2 feet in depth without being in water. Lastly, we encountered many garibaldi, bat rays, leopard sharks, calico bass, and caves while we snorkeled. Everyone was tired from the excursions of the day but we made our way to the laboratory to look at dinoflagellates from the day and from the night with the lovely Lorraine. Tomorrow we will get to see the pressed seaweed we created today for bookmarks or beautiful paintings. Overall today was an eventful day filled with learning and excitement.
Annie - My absolute favorite part of the day was kayaking. I loved seeing the scenery and the fish below the water while we glided over the water. The snorkeling was also a first for me, which proved to be a variety of experiences. For one, I’ve never had that much difficulty putting on an article of clothing before. I’ve also never seen so many vibrant orange fish. Until now I thought the fish in Finding Nemo was a Garibaldi, but to my surprise after seeing roughly 50 orange fish without white stripes down their bodies that it wasn’t in fact a clown fish. I also have never seen so many bat rays in my life. Just for safety, I put my hand over my heart anytime I swam over one just in case the same bat ray that got Steve Irwin would get me too. After the night tow of the plankton, I’m hesitant to both swallow sea water at night and swim in what is freezing water to me. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s events and hope to see extra bright bioluminescence, as I was slow to catch onto the twinkle tonight.
Ivan - Today was pretty interesting, especially the snorkeling, which was a first for me. It was very cold at first, but I adjusted as needed and by the end of the snorkel, I didn’t want to leave! I saw tons of fish species, sea cucumbers, and kelp. The best part was seeing the bat rays and leopard sharks. One of the sharks decided to come really close, but before I could touch it, it ran away! That was the highlight for today on Catalina.
Kalon - Kayaking was a fun experience today. Even though I have kayaked before, this was still different. I was partnered with Jarin from the Hawaii group and we talked and got to know each other a better. Then, after a great lunch, we went snorkeling. This felt like a new experience for me, since the last time I went snorkeling was a long time ago. I just found it to be such a thrill to see the multitude of wildlife swimming, growing, and crawling around. And even though I got salt water in my mouth a few times and the water was a little chilly, I had a great time exploring the colorful waters of Catalina.
Hunter - My favorite part of today was being able to get in the water and snorkel. The marine environment of Catalina is very different when compared to Hawaii. I loved swimming in the kelp because that is something that we do not have in our waters. While we were in the water, I noticed that it was a lot colder than Hawaii’s water. That took some adjusting but once we were all accustomed to the temperature change, it was beautiful. The most interesting marine animals that I saw were the leopard sharks and also the bat rays. They were a little shy so we had to keep still for them to come around, but once they did, there was a whole swarm of them. It was beautiful in the water and I can’t wait to see it in the dark tomorrow night. Goodnight Catalina!!
Jarin - The most interesting activity we did today was snorkeling. When I first entered the water, I noticed it was much colder then Hawaii’s. The Bat Rays was the most awesome thing that I was thought was in the water. Just the face of the ray was amazing. Catalina Island is so much more different then Hawaii. In Hawaii the temperatures stay the same day and night, unlike Catalina. One of the weirdest things that I thought was how it’s hot but when the wind blows it’s a cold breeze. I am so grateful to experience everything here.
Lilia - So today was our first official day for exploration on Catalina Island. We ate a really good breakfast in the morning and took a tour of the science research site. We enjoyed observing and touching many organisms in the touch tank that we would be exploring in the waters that day. We went into the “Catalina Chamber” and went to an extraordinary depth of about two feet, for five minutes. Haha. Not that much compared to the depths normal divers go to, but it was a good experience. After popping our ears to adjust back to the normal pressure level, we went to get our wetsuits fitted. This would be the first time I ever came close to a wetsuit. Coming from Hawaii, the warm pacific waters, they aren’t really needed. They were kind of hard to get into but were needed for our snorkeling adventures. We saw many sharks, rays, kelps and other organisms. I felt like a mermaid swimming through the kelp. The waters here our very different from Hawaii and I can’t wait to experience more!
Charleston - Waiting! Is pretty much what I did in the morning, until we got our stuff for kayaking. Then we got the kayaks, paired up with our partners, and went out to enjoy what the ocean has to offer us. I saw a lot of seaweed everywhere when I was both kayaking and snorkeling. The snorkeling was so cold but super fun and I got to see a lot of creatures that I never got to see back home. After that we made some bookmarks with seaweed. That pretty much concludes my day at Catalina.
Lea Arce, QS Team Advisor - The first day of the Hawaii Team QuikSCience adventure started off meeting Terri and DJ for a campus visit at USC. While touring, the students learned about college life, the various programs/degrees offered, scholarships and grants, dorm life, and various opportunities that are found at USC. In addition, our group visited an active marine science lab that studied copepod genetics and learned from Patrick about what it took to be a PhD candidate. For lunch, the team did a mandatory pit stop at In-n-Out Burger to taste the infamous double-double animal style. It was definitely a mouth-watering experience. Furthermore, the team visited Cabrillo Aquarium and began learning about the California marine ecosystem and its various animals and plants. Finally, the day closed with an adventurous journey to Catalina arriving on the island safe and ready for the Catalina adventures ahead!
Benjamin Kay, QS Team Advisor - Woke up & ate a massive breakie (waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, yogurt, toast) followed by a tour of the wet lab and touch tanks. Ivan, freshly graduated student from my Marbio class, was killing the taxonomy (I couldn't stump him on anything!). "Hey Ivan, what class do sea cucumbers belong to?" Without hesitation, "holothuroidea”!
After looking at fish and inverts in the touch tanks, we got a tour of the microscope and microbiology labs. We made our way out kayaking and ventured to Two Harbors with Terri and DJ noting various aspects of geological significance ("great white", diatomaceous/siliceous ooze, a volcano that didn't erupt) and biota. We saw a harbor seal, great blue heron, Garibaldi, calico bass, opal eye, bull kelp (Nereocystis), Macrocystis, lots of rockweeds (Pelvetia and Gelidium) and floating chain bladder kelp (Cystoseira). Good kayak!
We got a tour of the island's hyperbaric chamber, and even got to dive 2 feet below the surface. The students learned about compression and how to equalize by blowing gently while holding the nose. Chamber master, Larry, discussed an air embolism, nitrogen narcosis, decompression illness/the bends, and various uses of chamber treatment.
Next, we togged up for snorkeling. Angelina was fitted with a special prescription mask and was able to see on her first snorkel ever, thank goodness, even though she froze her butt off! Terri took us snorkeling into this super cool cave by the boat dock – a narrow passage, spooky and dark (woohoo), but had a decent cavern at the dead end that Team Marine all fit in. To exit, I dove down and swam under everyone's feet following the light. I accidentally grabbed lobster as gripped the sides of the passage soooo cool. Out of the cave, we then turned the corner and swam through the kelp along the wall. I ducked in and out of several 30ft dives in the kelp to get some footage with Cassandra's GoPro camera. We next traveled to the other side of the Wrigley inlet/bay and swam through schools of leopard sharks and bat rays. The leopards were dense in the warmer shallows, so much so, it allowed me to touch a few of them as they passed by me. The students quickly learned the importance of stealth and calmness in approaching skittish elasmobranchs! Fantastic snorkel followed by a lovely hot shower outside the wetsuit station.
Mid-afternoon snacks and a game of pool (yeah I won!) later had us toiling with algal specimens, dichotomous keys, and phycology ID books. The students and teachers made cards, which we put into the algae press.
Nom-noms followed up by a lecture from a USC graduate intern on the genetics of copepods. The harpacticoid (Tigriopus sp) shows small spatial scale genotypic and phenotypic variation among Catalina tidepools, so there is a chance there are "speciation genes" or perhaps certain genes more susceptible to mutation that may one day lead to different species. However, there is no known speciation among allopatric populations at this point.
We rounded off the day with a plankton lab, differentiating species richness between diurnal and nocturnal samples and hypothesizing why biodiversity increased at night (diel vertical migration of demersal zooplankton and circadium rhythms in combination with predator avoidance hypothesis). A very cheery and knowledgeable station director, Lorraine, guided us through and projected her sample on a TV to point out organisms to the students. Meanwhile, I flew solo performing a species richness assessment on my samples. Lorraine helped me ID a pteropod and several others I hadn't seen before. Gotta love plankton! Even after years of research on them - I'm humbled by their diversity. The students also got to do a night plankton tow using an 80 micron mesh net. After agitating the net and sample, we observed bioluminescence. I felt like a kid in a candy factory...twinkle, twinkle, little star - goodnight.
DJ - Today started out with an orientation of the facility starting with our fabulous touch tank. Ivan impressed all of us with his amazing ability to taxonomically classify all the organisms in our touch tank from the phylum all the way done to the species name. We kayaked to Two Harbors and got to see harbor seals and the “Great White Shark” made out of diatomaceous Earth. The afternoon snorkel was great. I was paired with the Hawaii Team and we snorkeled over to the area with all the leopard sharks. They have tiger sharks in their waters. The plankton tow was amazing as usual and it’s always inspiring to see Lorraine’s excitement and passion for plankton. Mahalo Everybody!
Day Two – Sunday, July 1, 2012
Road trip to Little Harbor and Shark Cove, a journey to the other side of the island to visit foxes, eagles and bison, dinner at the Airport in the Sky, and a night snorkel.
Charleston - Today was an awesome day! We went to Little Harbor and while we were there we went hiking on the mountain, walked on the beach, and did some soapstone carving. All of that was super fun and after that fun adventure we went to see the fox and the two eagles. From there we went to eat dinner at Airport in the Sky and I had an awesome burger. We also went to Two Harbors and I bought some stuff from the gift shop. Now were back at the dorms and today was a great day!
Jarin - Today was amazing! I think the most amazingest was eating dinner in a cloud. Normally you don’t eat dinner in clouds, so I thought it was a great experience and there was a great view of the mountains. Also today we got to see other animals that we don’t have in Hawaii. These animals were the Bison, ground squirrels, snake, and these huge birds! Back home our birds are the size of finches. Another activity that I enjoyed was carving the soapstone. Out of my piece of stone I tried to make my initials but it ended up breaking. Today was so exciting and I have a great time.
Lilia - We adventured on the dirt road over to “Little Harbor” and “Shark Cove.” We took a hike with DJ and then after had free time. The hike was super fun. There were many types of rocks, steep slopes, and beautiful pictures and was a great bonding time. Being normal teenagers, we ate, and then started carving our soapstones. I carved a nautilus shell out of this soft rock, and then headed down to the beach to collect shells and colorful rocks. We then ate an early dinner at the “Airport in the Sky.” Eating a “Buffalo” burger, which is really Bison, was a first for me. I found it kind of harder than a beef burger but thought it was quite delicious. We then headed down to “Two Harbors” to shop for some souvenirs and to say good-bye to Kalon, a member of the Santa Monica team. The next thing up is to go night snorkeling, which I am super excited for. Bioluminescence is amazing and I can’t wait to experience it myself. Hopefully I won’t freeze to death! Wish me luck!
Jordan - Today we had a very chill and relaxing day. We boarded the bus to go to the other side of the island. The ride was long, but it was worth the view. Once we got to “Shark Harbor,” we went on a hike along the ridges and down to the beach. On the first leg of our hike Charleston stepped near a rattlesnake. That was an experience that I did not necessarily want to have. It was weird. Later we were able to have some free time which we were able to carve soapstone. I carved a Shark. I think it was really fun and my stone turned out pretty good. I think that this was the best part of the day so far. In a few minutes, we are heading down to the dock to see the bioluminescence during our night snorkel. I’m very excited for this!
Hunter - Today was my favorite day of the whole trip! We started out by going to Little Harbor and taking a little hike. The bay was beautiful! It kind of reminded me of home. Then, we had some time to just relax and have free time. My favorite part of the day was the night dive! We went out at about 9 and it was FREEZIING! I’m so glad I decided to wear two wetsuits and a hood because I was toasty and warm during the whole snorkel. It’s a whole new world under the water at night. Everything seemed to change and take on a whole new appearance when the sun went down. While we were out there, we swam out by the point and turned off all of our lights. Then, once our eyes were adjusted to the dark, we moved our hands and feet through the water and immediately saw the bioluminescence! It looked like pixy dust in the water! I’ve never seen anything like it and I hope to see it again soon. Thank you, Catalina, for all the wonderful new experiences. GOODNIGHT!!
Ivan - Today was another interesting day in the ocean. Went night snorkeling for the first time and was surprised to see that the water wasn’t that cold! I saw leopard sharks, rays, and shrimp. I also saw a bioluminescence video and saw first hand the plankton glowing in the dark. Overall another exciting day learning about luciferans and plankton!
Annie - My favorite part of the day was probably the eye-opening hike we took around Shark Cove. I have never seen so many shining minerals and gem stones before. They were absolutely beautiful! I couldn’t believe that every time I stepped on a new rock it was soft and spongy to the touch! The night snorkel was very odd and disorienting to me. I couldn’t figure out where left and right was and lost my snorkeling partner more than a couple times. I loved seeing the sharks at night and the little fish that came up to my face and swam in my hair. Even though the water was freezing and I drank my fair share of seawater, I am very open to doing it again and seeing more sleeping eels and fish!
Cassandra - A day of site seeing! We saw a bald eagle, a golden eagle, and a fox that was surprisingly small in captivity. During our drive we saw four wild bison grazing and chilling in the meadow, while seeing the beautiful coast bordering Catalina. After visiting the ocean we made our way to Airport in the Sky to watch some planes depart and enter the airport before eating a delicious burger. On our drive back we said our good-byes to Kalon in Two Harbors. We gave each other our QS presentations that we submitted to Quikscience. To top off the day we all experienced a night dive where all the nocturnal fishes came out to check us out. The fish gave us a light show, which left us with good thoughts to go to sleep to.
Angelina - Today began with the bus ride to a campsite where we hiked. Although the hike was a little bit challenging, it was all worth it when we reached the top. The view overlooking the cliff was mesmerizing. Then we unleashed our artistic side with the soapstone carving. Some students carved seashells, sharks, and fish. It took a lot of patience and persistence to carve soapstone. Then we drove to see a fox, a bald eagle, and a golden eagle. On our drive, we were fortunate enough to see Bison. From afar, they looked like giant fluffballs. We stopped for dinner at Airport in the Sky and then headed back to the campus. We finished off the day with a night snorkel and then had hot chocolate with cookies. Today was an energy-consuming day, but I had so much fun and can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
Lea - Today was a field trip day to explore Catalina’s environment, living organisms, and nature. Our first stop took place at Little Harbor. We took sometime exploring and hiking Shark’s cove. While hiking, I noticed the interesting geology of the landscape. I’ve never seen such a sparkling sand of beach before. I mean, the rocks and sand were literally shiny with various colors. I was mesmerized at the various types of rocks on the beach from green schist, shale, quartz, and more. Lia and I even took time to collect a variety of rocks and also found unique purple shells that I hope to make some form of jewelry someday. While at the Little Harbor, we also encountered crows, squirrels, and Charleston even had a run in with a rattlesnake. Yikes! But my favorite part was taking pictures at the beach and the beautiful scenery. One big difference I noticed while walking was that Shark’s Cove beach had seldom any trash on the beach, but Little Harbor had a variety of plastic, styrofoam, and other trash. But the best part was that both teams took part in cleaning up the beach and picking up trash. Kudos to both teams! After our beach adventure we continued our journey and encountered about 7 wild bisons, the Catalina fox, Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagle. These animals were amazing and majestic. We then drove to Catalina Airport for dinner, where I had my first taste of buffalo burger. Interesting taste, I’m glad I tried it.
Our final adventure for the evening was our night snorkel. It was cold, but worth seeing bioluminescence and swimming with leopard sharks. As a teacher, I am very pleased that my students enjoyed their experience and learning about California’s land and marine world. It is my hope that I have sparked something in their lives to continue their stewardship of the land and ocean as ambassadors to the environment no matter where they will be in the future.
Benjamin - We started the day going to Little Harbor. It was my second time there. We did the hike along the hill and along the rocky and sandy intertidal zones. We explored the beach wrack and picked up lots of single use plastics - the usual culprits: bottle caps, straws, foam, and bottles. Some of the Hawaii team members helped Kalon and I remove a long strand of fishing line from a clump of mixed seaweeds along the shore. Later we were back at our campsite munching on beef jerky and skoobie snacks. Terri brought some dried bananas, mango, and blueberries - good healthier snacks :) The students and I kicked around the soccer ball, some carved soapstone, and a few took a look at sand from around the island under the microscope. I tried a snorkel, but the visibility was poor and spooky! I did see a big stingray. We visited the island fox and two bald eagle station and I got to see the fox this time! We then made our way to Airport in the Sky, where I watched planes land and take off. A helicopter flown by the fire department landed, and three dudes in blue suits unloaded and came to eat lunch. My dinner at the airport was an avocado and walnut sandwich. Others seemed to be feasting on bison burgers. Upon an hour-long ride home, we dropped off Kalon at the dock, shopped in the Two Harbors gift store, and then returned to base for student presentations and a night snorkel. The Hawaii team presented on phyto-remediation of nutrient pollutants (N and P). Ivan from our team surprisingly busted out with a drawing of the experimental design of the research proposal - go Ivan man! Terri showed a great Ted talk video of bioluminescence by Edith Widder. I learned the name - dragonfish - as being one of the best of deep sea light shows, and also one of the organisms in one of my power points that I previously thought was the display of a polychaete. Our night snorkel was fun. We saw lobsters, little rays, shovelnose sharks, leopards, big calico, big opal eye, and when we turned off our lights - bioluminescence! Thanks to our guides - Lorraine and DJ, oh, and the dock master - Terri :)
Kalon – Today wasn't nearly as tiring as yesterday, but just as much fun. In the morning, we set out to Little Harbor. I enjoyed our short hike, skipping stones with Jarin and Charleston, and climbing up steep inclines to get to the tops of rocks. I started and finished a soapstone "K", for "Kalon", and not long after I finished, we packed up and headed over to see Tachi, a Catalina Fox, and to see a bald eagle and a golden eagle. Then, we had a very appetizing dinner, a Buffalo Burger with fries, at the Airport in the Sky, and I even got to watch a few planes land. Finally, we went back to Two Harbors in time for me to catch my early ferry back. I was sad to leave, but grateful for all the fun activities I had done the days before.
Day Three – Monday, July 2, 2012
Kamehameha Team heads for the Airport, Hike the WMSC ridge, Catalina Harbor mud flats, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding and fish printing.
Cassandra - Saying goodbye is always hard, but the adventures we spent with Kamehameha High School team would stay with us always. With their presence I learned so much about Hawaiian culture, and was reassured that Hawaii still kept a lot of their traditions. After the Kamehameha team left the port, we all had a nice nap to refresh us for an eventful hike North of the USC Wrigley Institute. In hopes of seeing a great blue heron in her nest, instead we discovered a peaceful area overlooking the calm ocean. The group had to pull me away from this area because I could have been there for hours. As we headed up the mountain we witnessed a feeding frenzy of dolphins. After gazing at the happy dolphins we saw an antique sailboat cruse by which gave me a strong desire to ride one. DJ referred me to a group called LAMI, which trains interested individuals how to run a sailboat and I will most likely be doing this in the near future. We encountered a bison and then we drove to Two Harbors where Terri gave us a wonderful tour the mud flats and told us its history while we studied the critters in the bay.
Annie - Today was probably my favorite day of the week. We got to pretty much choose our activities today and that left us with many choices. First, we took a hike around the nearest mountain. There we saw a friendly little bison that looked as if he probably didn’t want company. We also saw a giant group of dolphins. After lunch, we rented some bikes and had an unfortunate run in with a prickly pear cactus. Then we then made our way to the water where I tried paddle boarding for the first time and only fell off once or twice. The water made it very easy as did the board and I really hope to get to try it again, thanks Terri and DJ!
Ivan - Today was also another awesome day. It started off with dropping off the Hawaii team. Then we went hiking, where we saw bison, dolphins, and lots of birds swarm from Bird Rock Island. We raced back to have an excellent lunch with soup as the main course. Then, we went paddle boarding and biking. Today was the first time I paddle boarded, and I was very excited to try it. I had lots of difficulty getting on, but once I knew how to use the board, I was happily going across the water. I also had an excellent dinner with spaghetti and now here I am, blogging about my great day!
Angelina – I would be so bold as to say today was the best day of this trip (with the exception of saying goodbye to the Hawaii team). We definitely were sad to see them leave early and felt their absence. After a wave of goodbyes, we came back to the institute and DJ showed us her secret hiking trail, which led up to Great Blue Heron’s nest. We felt adventurous and hiked further up the trail (DJ admitted that she had never gone past the point). It was a good thing we spontaneously traveled further, because we discovered the perfect place. It had a wooden bench that looked out onto the ocean. We also saw a pod of dolphins diving as they crazily chased after their prey. At Two Harbors, I found my new favorite activity: paddle boarding. Today was the first time I had paddle boarded and I was scared of falling off. Fortunately, I found my balance and headed out to the deeper water. I absolutely enjoyed all the activities Terri and DJ had planned for us today.
Benjamin – As we said goodbye to the Hawaii crew they sang all of us a tradition farewell song on the dock...very sweet. We then hiked along the ridge with DJ and saw several pods of dolphins jumping out of the water, which attracted schools of birds - all the ruckus presumably over a bait ball. It was very cool. We also came upon a Bison right off the trail, which made for a closer viewing session. After lunch we went to Cat Harbor and explored the estuarine mudflats of Cat Harbor on the South/Southwest side of the island removing trash and observing benthic diatoms, fiddler crabs, shore crabs, yabby (ghost shrimp) exoskeletons, and moon snails at low tide. We also saw teams of amphipods under the beach wrack and small group of Caspian Terns (black mohawk, white body, red stout beak that ends in a point. We then jutted over to Two Harbors and rented bikes. This was one of my favorite activities at Catalina! Team Marine and I made it past two headlands to Cherry Cove traveling on a windy dirt road that paralleled the coastline's ins and outs. Funny (and unfortunate) moment: Angelina was thirsty, so Cassandra picked her the flower/fruit of the prickly pear cactus and got dozens of nettle-like needles stuck in her fingers. Her passing of the baton to Angelina resulted in a second victim - such an alluring juicing fruit (better name perhaps is the angler plant). Terri's rule of thumb (no pun intended): bring your reusable bottles with you all over the island! Warmed by the ride, we returned for an outing upon stand up paddleboards - yeehaaaa! I paddled out to the headland on the northwest side of the bay and then traveled back along the rocky bank looking at fish and seaweeds in the shallows. It was my first time doing SUP and surprisingly, I didn't fall. Team Marine and I then paddled out to the outermost boat in the harbor, the waste management ship, aka the Catalina Supplier, then booked it to shore after a very fun outing. We are currently engaged in fish printing on t-shirts.