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Wrapping up an AMAZING summer!

Posted by: Mimi | August 20, 2015 | No Comment |

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all of the wonderful people who made this summer so spectacular, especially Joel Llopiz and everyone in his lab!

Joel was SO generous and made space for me to bring in and work on a new project in his already very busy lab. Also happening in the lab were studies looking at the diets of forage fish along the NE coast through gut analysis and stable isotopes, and using otoliths from larval river herring from different areas to determine growth rate and survivorship. Really cool stuff!!

So much of what made this summer so great is the amazing people who I was able to work with. Joel, Martha, Andy, and Julie (and Penny): thank you so much for all of your great advice and guidance, and for welcoming me into your lab family this summer. I had such a wonderful, interesting, educational, and unforgettable summer at WHOI!

To everyone reading this, check out Joel’s lab page!!

Thank you,


Filed under: Antarctic, News, Senior Thesis


Posted by: nina-karnovsky | August 9, 2015 | No Comment |

Mimi presented her summer research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Poster Session.


She gave a great two minute talk!

Mimi giving her two minute teaser

For the rest of the poster session she was surrounded.

Mimi giving the scoop!

It was really exciting that her Mom and Dad were able to see her in action!


I was very proud too!

Filed under: Antarctic, Senior Thesis
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A regular Sea Ranch day and many thanks!

Posted by: nicole2015 | August 7, 2015 | 2 Comments |

Hi all! I’m still at Sea Ranch with my family but Kyle, Leo, and Jeffrey went home yesterday and our field work is done!  For a while I’ve been meaning to upload a “day in the life of” type post where I describe one of our normal days, so here it is even if it is a little late!

Most days we woke up at 6:00 AM, got organized, ate some breakfast (below is a morning bun from Two Fish Bakery, a treat my dad got us while he was visiting!), and headed out to Gualala Point Island (also below).


IMG_5873 (1)


This is me entering data on the Nest Survey form.


After GPI we headed back home for a few hours that we mostly used on catching up with data entry (seen above) or other work like keeping the log (seen below).


After some lunch it was time for our PECO study or BLOY study depending on the day.  Kyle and his BLOY site are featured below:



(Even on cold, overcast days it’s easy to get sunburnt, hence the umbrella!)


After our afternoon studies we had more time to work on data entry or other projects.  I walked to my parents house one evening to check on the house and my pet rat Glenn and took the above picture of the evening sun.


Then dinner! (Above is Jeffrey’s tater tots and sloppy joes.)


Then a bit of cleaning up and potentially some free time before bed!

Because this is probably my last blog post for this project I wanted to throw in some photos from the last few weeks I never got to post:


Here’s Kyle and Leo in the recording studio from when we were interviewed for the local radio station!


Here’s a young rubber boa (notice the tail is stubby to look like its head) that we saw on a hike with my dad!


And here’s a selfie from our last day out in the field! (We’re in front of GPI even though you can’t see it!)

Lastly I wanted to thank my fellow students, Leo, Kyle, and Jeffrey, for being great to work with and entertaining in our free time. The four of us would like to thank all the wonderful people who made this summer amazing and a great learning opportunity, including everyone from the Sea Ranch Task Force, the BLM, and the Madrone Audubon Society who made this project possible.  Thank you to my parents Liz Keene and Dale McDuffie as well as Dibby Tyler for graciously housing us, even in the peril of their homes! Thank you for the team from UC Santa Cruz for the opportunity to help with an intertidal survey and to Doug Forsell for taking us along on the fascinating search for marbled murrelets! Also to Molly Engelbrecht and others at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory for organizing a fantastic tour of the premises and a taste of grad school!

Finally thank you to the Diane and Bryant Hichwa for many dinners and the use of their home, computers, scanners, and wifi (as well as their loving dog Bridget!); Diane was an immense help/expert in our project and a great mentor along the way!  Jim Weigand also made time in his busy schedule to be an inspiring mentor and help in numerous ways and of course Nina Karnovsky was, as always, an invaluable adviser in all things! Thank you all for making this summer an incredible experience!

Filed under: News, Sea Ranch

Behind the Scenes: The Sea Ranchers

Posted by: leo2015 | August 5, 2015 | No Comment |

Here are just a few sneak peeks into what goes on in the quest for blog material and research data.


Jeffrey and Kyle taking photos of some type of cliff rodent. (The hats are part of the process too!)


(Me) doodling caricatures of the nesting pelagic cormorants. Field research means field sketches too right?


Jeffrey scoping out the (Western gull) chicks. Yes, we all make that face when we use the scopes.


Some times the car ride between studies is the best time to lay down for a bit… If you don’t mind the teasing.

pic on bluff

Out and about during the BLM Point Arena-Stornetta celebration. Not quite a selfie but the rock formations were too wonderful to leave out of the shot so it’ll have to do.

Filed under: News, Sea Ranch

Poster Palooza Begins!

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | August 1, 2015 | 1 Comment |

Now that the summer field season is coming to an end, the poster presentations are beginning! Elika presented her research comparing the vertebrates in burned and unburned coastal sage scrub at the biology department end of summer poster session.
Elika presenting her results

Elika’s research was supported by a grant from the Thoreau Foundation and from the Rose Hills Foundation. Congratulations Elika!

Filed under: Bernard Field Station, BFS

Seabird/Woodrat Selfie Challenge!

Posted by: nicole2015 | July 29, 2015 | No Comment |

Mimi passed on the selfie challenge to me, and after a bit of a Wifi mishap yesterday here it is!


Here’s Kyle and I during our survey of Gualala Point Island, which you can see along with our scopes behind us!

I pass the torch on to Leo!

Filed under: News

Increasing the taxonomic diversity of my photos

Posted by: jeffrey2015 | July 27, 2015 | 1 Comment |

I’ve received reports that some people feel like my photographs are not representative of the taxonomic diversity here at The Sea Ranch. Some people have claimed that my blog posts are still an “old birds club,” “yet another example of the rampant speciesism that permeates the scientific community” and “just another blog in which the orders Pelicaniformes, Charadriiformes and Suliformes are chronically overrepresented while other taxa fall by the wayside.” In light of these accusations I have been forced to reconsider how my posts are influenced by, and contribute to the systematic oppression certain taxa face in their everyday lives. Starting today, I have taken a pledge to increase the taxonomic diversity featured in these blog posts.

We start off in a completely different class with a member of the order Rodentia. These squirrels were seen on our trip up to Ft. Bragg to see Glass Beach.

Sneaky Squirrel

A member of the order Rodentia, taking a peak of from behind some vegetation. Seen at glass beach in Ft. Bragg

Squirrel Contemplating Life

Contemplating all the ways in which speciesism touches the lives of all organism and what he can do to change.

In the unlikely scenario that someone is holding a gun to your head and will only spare your life if you can identify the order of a bird specimen, your best guess would be Passeriformes. The passerines, or perching birds, account for over half of all species of birds, including many of the most familiar birds like warblers, jays, finches and many many more. One of the defining features of this order is their anisodactyl feet, which is a scientific way of saying they have three toes facing forward and one toe facing backwards. This foot arrangements facilities perching on things like branches and telephone wires.

A member of the order Passeriformes. Specifically a song sparrow perching on a bush.

A member of the order Passeriformes. Specifically a song sparrow perching on a bush.

Traditionally cormorants were placed in the order Pelicaniformes along with pelicans, egrets, and herons. Later Pelicaniformes was absorbed into the heavily restructured Ciconiformes which somehow managed to include grebes, vultures, storks, penguins, falcons, gulls, and albatrosses. Finally, the cormorants have found their place in the order Suliformes with their cousins the anhingas and the boobies.

Pelagic Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant wondering where she fits in.

The Black Oystercatcher is a member of the “privileged” order Charadriiformes. Charadriiformes includes many of the most common birds we observe on Guala Point Island, including the Pigeon Guillemot, Western Gull, Common Murre and the eccentric Black Oystercatcher.

BLOYs Being BLOys

Black Oyster Catchers calling. Members of the privileged order Charadriiformes that receives so much attention here at The  Sea Ranch

We don’t see too many dolphins here so being able to see a pod of 5 of these guys was certainly a treat.  This certainly isn’t the greatest photo out there since they were pretty far away and I was caught tripodless but I figured I had to include it. The summer isn’t a great time Ceteceans at The Sea Ranch since most of the whales are up in Alaska eating to their car sized hearts content.

GPI Dolphin

A Cetacean, specifically a dolphin  seen in waters surrounding Guala Point Island

A special thanks to Prof. Karnovsky for sharing her taxonomic knowledge in Vert Bio (aka the best class ever).

Navorro Group Photo

A group of four humans (members of the order primate, family Hominidae) seen at Navorro Winery in the Anderson Valley

Filed under: Sea Ranch


Posted by: Mimi | July 27, 2015 | 1 Comment |

So, I have been tasked with beginning a selfie challenge in which you take a selfie in the lab/field and then pass the torch on to another person in the Karnovsky lab!

This is me and my darling otoliths. You can’t tell, but this one is totally making a duck face in honour of this photo.

Your turn, Nikole McDuffie!!

Filed under: News

Where are they now? PART X

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | July 19, 2015 | No Comment |

Nola Shi’15 has sent an update on her postgrad research adventures in Oregon!

Nola after butterfly surveys up on Steens mountain.

Nola after butterfly surveys up on Steens mountain.

“We finished up our woody riparian and wet meadow point counts. We basically trudged 6-8 miles through marshland (nothing like water and cow poop sloshing around in your hiking boots for several hours!) and through fields with grasses taller than I am at 4 AM, and there are 99999 mosquitos here.


Intern covered in mosquitoes!

The point counts were really cool — tons of white faced ibises, black necked stilts, avocets, black terns, double crested corms, curlews and phalaropes. We’re also just about done with our impoundment brood surveys — one of the lakes here has around 3000-5000 birds on it, so it takes hours to count them all! Someone took a sandhill crane colt from near its nest and brought it to refuge headquarters. So we had to drive 10 hrs to a rehab center in Portland and the poor thing is probably going to be put into a zoo.” IMG_8961

Nola also reported on a trip to the coast where she was able to check nests of snowy plovers with other biologists. IMG_8985 Looking forward to more updates!

Filed under: Senior Thesis, Where are they now?


Posted by: Mimi | July 13, 2015 | No Comment |

So, I’m up to my ears in otoliths (pun intended). I’ve gotten a decent way through sorting all of them and picking out a pretty representative sample from each season to put in immersion oil, and I’ve finally started taking pictures of and ageing the otoliths that I put in oil last week and the week before!

An Electrona otolith that I've aged to be about 8 years old

An Electrona otolith that I’ve aged to be about 8 years old

A Pleurogramma otolith that I've aged to be about 6 years old

A Pleurogramma otolith that I’ve aged to be about 6 years old

It’s really exciting when they look this great!!

But then other times they turn out to still look like this:

My notes for this one just say "nope"

My notes for this one just say “nope”

And then most of they time they’re somewhere in between


This one's currently down as 3 years, but I'm gonna re-check it in a few days

This one’s currently down as 3 years, but I’m gonna re-check it in a few days

My favourite ones though are the juvenile otoliths of the Pleurogramma

IMG_0045 IMG_0050 IMG_0091 IMG_0092

Those bands aren’t annual, but they’re so cool to look at!


Last night, Prof. K had me over for dinner and I had fried clams for the first time! They were DELICIOUS!! Max showed us some magic tricks, and Lillian sang lots of Frozen songs. And I also got to see Darrell, a seabird biologist from CA who I met at PSG and got to help out with some Scripps’ Murrelet surveys on Catalina Island last semester, so that was really fun also!

I’m still having such a great time here! Living on the beach, fresh seafood, and a whole bunch of really freaking smart people who are all into marine science–it’s paradise!

I do have to get back to work now though.

Until next time :)


Filed under: Antarctic, News, Senior Thesis
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