This week in the Club, we spent some time going behind the scenes! We observed the Steller sea lion remote monitoring program, compared aquarium tank setups for the “Harbor Bottom Life” and “Deep Gulf” exhibits, and learned about our rescued sea otters and harbor seals. We were joined by members of the high school National Ocean Sciences Bowl team, and their coach! It was great to have everyone along, and the students did an excellent job of recording their observations at each station on the tour.

This week in the Club, we spent some time going behind the scenes! We observed the Steller sea lion remote monitoring program, compared aquarium tank setups for the “Harbor Bottom Life” and “Deep Gulf” exhibits, and learned about our rescued sea otters and harbor seals. We were joined by members of the high school National Ocean Sciences Bowl team, and their coach! It was great to have everyone along, and the students did an excellent job of recording their observations at each station on the tour.

This week we looked up close at four animals: spot prawns, decorator crabs, brittle stars and sea jellies. We broke into teams to observe these animals and then gave 10 second presentations to try to convince the group that one of these four was the coolest. Great teamwork!   

This week we looked up close at four animals: spot prawns, decorator crabs, brittle stars and sea jellies. We broke into teams to observe these animals and then gave 10 second presentations to try to convince the group that one of these four was the coolest. Great teamwork!   

What an amazing turnout for our first meeting of Ocean Sciences Club! We played an ocean themed name game, designed our own mystery ocean animals and set down some rules. Then we moved on to an introduction to Steller’s eiders. To understand some of the community ecology in the Arctic tundra, where the Steller’s eiders nest, we played a game. Many club members started as lemmings, a common prey species for Arctic predators. Others were foxes or jaegers, the predators. Then, of course, we had the eiders, trying to cross the tundra with four eider ducklings in hand. Turns out, the eiders were successful in crossing the tundra, even when there were many jaegers (a common predator of eider ducklings).  As long as the jaegers had lemmings to eat, they would’t bother the eiders or the ducklings. In fact, jaegers in the wild can actually alert eiders when foxes are nearby, so eiders often nest when more jaegers are present.

Anyone remember what this is a photo of? We had a great first Ocean Sciences Club meeting of the 2014-2015 year. The meeting included a SeaLife Center trivia challenge and a scavenger hunt. Wonderful to see so many new and returning faces. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, September 3 from 5:00-6:30pm. We look forward to seeing you then! If you missed the first meeting, no worries, join us on the 3rd! 

Anyone remember what this is a photo of? We had a great first Ocean Sciences Club meeting of the 2014-2015 year. The meeting included a SeaLife Center trivia challenge and a scavenger hunt. Wonderful to see so many new and returning faces. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, September 3 from 5:00-6:30pm. We look forward to seeing you then! If you missed the first meeting, no worries, join us on the 3rd! 

It’s another year of Ocean Sciences Club!!!! Join us on Wednesday, August 27 at 5:00pm for an informational and fun first evening of Ocean Sciences Club. 

It’s another year of Ocean Sciences Club!!!! Join us on Wednesday, August 27 at 5:00pm for an informational and fun first evening of Ocean Sciences Club. 

Check out this year’s video from Ocean Sciences Club! The video explains what we do at Ocean Sciences Club and why other kids should join in next year. The club members helped film and come up with questions to ask one another. Thanks to everyone for making club a great success during the 2013/2014 school year!

Invertebrates at Ocean Sciences Club!

Did you know there are sponges in the ocean so large you could stand in one? Or did you know that we (and other mammals) are in the same phylum as some invertebrates? We learned these cool facts and more from Leah Sloan, a PhD student at UAF as she taught us about the great diversity of invertebrates. We also had the chance to practice our microscope skills to observe different invertebrates from a plankton tow and to look up close at sea anemone tentacles to see their nematocysts (stinging cells).

Ever wonder what our wildlife response staff is up to behind their quarantined doors? We got to meet Halley and Helena, who both work with the stranded animals that come to the SeaLife Center. They taught us about how the whole program works and gave us a sense of their daily duties, including restraining and tube-feeding seals. They even let us try tube-feeding a model seal. After Karl (pictured above) successfully led the tube into the seal’s stomach (notice the green light), he proceeded to give some mock formula (in our case air) to the animal. There is definitely a technique to tube-feeding! 

Ever wonder what our wildlife response staff is up to behind their quarantined doors? We got to meet Halley and Helena, who both work with the stranded animals that come to the SeaLife Center. They taught us about how the whole program works and gave us a sense of their daily duties, including restraining and tube-feeding seals. They even let us try tube-feeding a model seal. After Karl (pictured above) successfully led the tube into the seal’s stomach (notice the green light), he proceeded to give some mock formula (in our case air) to the animal. There is definitely a technique to tube-feeding! 

This week we got to meet two of the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Giant Pacific Octopuses!! Aquarist Amy Sherrow introduced the group to several physical characteristics of octopuses and then the kids got to see several of these features in action. They got to feel the strength of the sucker disks, see the siphon helping to move the octopus around and witness color change. You can get involved with some close observation too: if you look right over the eyes of the octopus in the lower photo you can notice “horns” or papillae, creating a more aggressive appearance, absent in the octopus in the top photo. 

This week in Ocean Sciences Club Katrina Edgar, a microbiology researcher at the Alaska SeaLife Center, came to visit! She taught us about her work identifying adenoviruses found in long tail ducks. In order to understand her research better, she explained many common viruses like the flu and rabies. She also taught us some lab techniques, like pipetting, that she uses in her lab. Everyone got excited about pipetting and kept on practicing until they became more comfortable with the skill. 

This week in Ocean Sciences Club Katrina Edgar, a microbiology researcher at the Alaska SeaLife Center, came to visit! She taught us about her work identifying adenoviruses found in long tail ducks. In order to understand her research better, she explained many common viruses like the flu and rabies. She also taught us some lab techniques, like pipetting, that she uses in her lab. Everyone got excited about pipetting and kept on practicing until they became more comfortable with the skill. 

We had two great presenters to finish off March in Ocean Sciences Club. First, Caitlin DeGrave, an Aviculturist at the ASLC, taught us about the world of bird husbandry and some unique adaptations of sea birds. We tried our hand at counting how many common murres, horned puffins and tufted puffins there are in the aviary (a task the aviculturists do here everyday). It’s hard! If you ever stop by the ASLC aviary, give it a try!

Next, Lori Polasek, a marine mammal scientist at the ASLC, shared her research on belugas. We learned more about belugas by observing a skeleton. And what do watermelons and balloons have to do with belugas? Many toothed whales like belugas have a fatty melon in their foreheads to help with echolocation and communication. We used balloons to replicate beluga sounds and experimented with hearing those sounds through melons. 

This week we encountered a ZOMBIE CRAB! Leah Sloan, a PhD student at UAF, shared her research on a parasitic barnacle (Briarosaccus callosis) that infects king crabs. This parasite will take over the body of a male or female crab and get that crab to take care of the parasite’s larvae, instead of its own, creating, essentially, a genetic death for that crab (or a crab zombie). Club members got to learn more about healthy king crabs by looking at one year old crabs under microscopes. Then they got to meet an actual king crab that has this particular parasitic barnacle. So, next time you look out to sea, know that there may be zombies out there. 

Sadie Ulman, research coordinator, visited the club this week to talk about her research on Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common Murres in Resurrection Bay. She is studying their productivity to help understand the health of the ecosystem. Club members had the opportunity to view videos of nesting Kittiwakes and photos of Common Murre nesting sites to try and identify incubation and brooding behaviors. Some of the kids could even pick out the eggs and chicks in the video and photos. 

Sadie Ulman, research coordinator, visited the club this week to talk about her research on Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common Murres in Resurrection Bay. She is studying their productivity to help understand the health of the ecosystem. Club members had the opportunity to view videos of nesting Kittiwakes and photos of Common Murre nesting sites to try and identify incubation and brooding behaviors. Some of the kids could even pick out the eggs and chicks in the video and photos. 

Vet technician Jane Belovarac and Dr. Elizabeth deCastro visited the Ocean Sciences Club this week to talk about veterinary sciences. Jane taught us about how our vets and vet techs anesthetize animals here at the ASLC and out in the wild. Club members got to test their skills at using a blow dart, a tool that is used to anesthetize wild sea lions. Dr. Elizabeth gave us the challenge of using sutures. We practiced on stuffed animals to try forming different knots and to get the feel for using new tools. Then we got the opportunity to see the vet clinic here at the ASLC and to view x-rays of some animals, including a walrus! We have several aspiring vets in our club, and Jane and Dr. Elizabeth were great at answering their many questions.