Monday, November 23, 2009

The Missing Pyramid...

Total missing GPS units from Heppell Lab:

Total number of search dives to recover location of pyramid:

Looking for a small pile of cinderblocks in cold water in a wetsuit on the Oregon coast in the dead of winter with fellow Heppell Lab members:

Shivonne, Scott, Stephanie, Luke, Brittany and Heather. Photo by Ali Dauble.

One of my artificial reef structures, the elusive fifth pyramid (of six), has been "missing" for several months now. Since the pyramid is about 1800 lbs of cinderblocks and mortar inside a large steel frame, it has not moved to another estuary, contrary to popular lab opinion. A recreational boater probably ran over the mooring buoy, so it is not currently marked (aka, "missing").

The artificial structures were constructed and deployed specifically for the purpose of developing an estuarine juvenile rockfish recruitment index, one part of my master's thesis. The structures were originally deployed in February 2008 and have remained in the murky waters of Yaquina Bay on the central Oregon coast ever since. Dive surveys on the structures for the last two years demonstrate that they were extremely successful in recruiting newly settled juvenile rockfish in both 2008 and 200
9, in addition to many other fish and invertebrate species, and will provide us with more information regarding juvenile rockfish settlement rates within an estuary on the Oregon coast.

Does anyone remember "We found the sixth pyramid!"? Stephanie and Heather. Photo by Ali Dauble.

The photos in this post are from one of the search dives in late October where I had a large crew of divers from the Heppell Lab come out with me (and actually remembered my camera during all of the planning). Unfortunately, these search dives were all unsuccessful in locating the fifth pyramid (see photo above). As of now, the current plan is to do some slow trawling with the lab boat, the Marine Team whaler, instead of search dives, continuing sometime in December. This will allow us to cover a lot more ground during slack tide and not kill me organizing more large dive crews.

A special thank you to all who came out to help dive for these search dives and thanks for your volunteer dives over the last two years!

The dive crew on a (surprisingly) beautiful day in Yaquina Bay. Scott, Heather, Shivonne, Ali, Brittany, and Stephanie. Photo by Ali Dauble.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Introduction to the Heppell Lab

We are a diverse group of ecologists and physiologists working on a variety of topics!  We hope this blog gives you a way to get to know us better.  Current research topics include work on:
  • larval quality in Pacific Ocean Perch
  • science and education surrounding marine reserves in Oregon
  • methods for improving stock assessment
  • rockfish recruitment in Oregon estuaries
  • rockfish conservation through cooperation with fishers
  • trophic ecology and ecosystem modelling of the Bering Sea
  • heat shock proteins as indicators of thermal stress in eastern Oregon streams
  • reproduction of lake trout in the Great Lakes
  • interactions between redband trout and mountain whitefish in the Crooked River
  • behavior and population trends of grouper in the Cayman Islands
  • using vertebral chemical composition to distinguishing natal origins of sharks and rays
  • nesting behavior and movements of sea turtles
  • understanding the consequences of invasion of Humbolt squid
In addition, members of the lab have been to interesting national and international meetings, have received a number of awards, and often find themselves on trips to new and exciting places associated with their research.