Monthly Archives: May 2012

Working with Birch Aquarium to Educate on Algae!

Emily Kelly showing algae samples to the group.


PhD students Emily Kelly and Maggie Johnson spent the afternoon at the Birch Aquarium with aquarists, aquarium teachers, and Sea Camp teachers for a workshop about local algae species.  As part of Birch’s on-going work to show visitors the wonderful underwater world of marine life, aquarists and teachers are also interested in fostering a diverse collection of seaweeds for the display tanks.


PhD student Maggie Johnson giving a presentation about algae

Maggie and Emily talked about the taxonomy, biology, and physiology of some local and tropical seaweed species that can be found at Birch, and then the group spent time looking at samples under the microscope and making cross-sections to examine cellular structure of seaweeds.

Birch Aquarium has been a great resource for the Smith Lab in obtaining algal samples for experiments and teaching. All of us look forward to continue working with Birch Aquarium on their “seaweed gardening.”


*Photo Credit: Fernando Nosratpour (Birch Aquarium Curator)


On Thursday April 26, 2012 members from the Smith and Sandin Labs represented Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the San Diego Oceans Foundation 27th annual Ocean’s Benefit Gala to celebrate sustainable seafood.  The gala was held at Sea World’s Turtle Reef and Shark Encounter Exhibit and featured a wide variety of entertainment from live music, silent auctions, and of course delicious seafood tastings prepared by local celebrity chefs using only sustainable seafood!


Here’s what a few of our lab members had to say about the event:

Clint Edwards with Gary Harle, an urchin fisherman

At the SD Ocean Gala this past Thursday I had the opportunity to chat with a wide variety of people from the urchin and lobster fishermen to, dive enthusiasts, excited “foodies,” and Lori Saldana, San Diego congressional candidate running for the 52nd district. Besides the mayor of the small town I grew up in, this was the first time that I’d ever actually met a publicly elected official!! It was very interesting to learn about the causes she advocates for and the logistical challenges of working in a divided political landscape. It would seem that there is more in common between the science and political communities than we would otherwise believe. I’m not advocating voting one way or another for Saldana in the fall, but she certainly inspired me to become more informed on local issues!!!

Truth be told I spent more time talking than eating….though the sushi medley served on an opened and cleaned urchin was certainly fun!!

-Clint Edwards, Master’s Student


Levi Lewis helping to man the SIO Information Booth

I attended the Mitch’s Seafood station where thresher shark sausage was being served.  The chef was well-versed in sustainability, using only local troll-caught thresher sharks and provided the highlight dish of the evening from my perspective.  The event was a great display of people with their hearts in the right places with a prominent message of sustainability.  Perhaps more important was the emphasis on local seafood, which may be some of the best-managed and most sustainable that can be found.  I had some great conversations with local fishermen and executives of Catalina Offshore Products.  There will always be some disagreement regarding the most effective methods of approaching a challenge; but what is exciting and hopeful is that we can all come together at events like the gala to promote our shared goals–sustainable harvest and healthy ecosystems.

-Levi Lewis, PhD Student


Some of the delicious sustainable seafood creations

The SDOF Gala was an amazing opportunity to interact with the public and to talk to them about sustainable seafood choices. It’s refreshing and heartening to meet people who are willing to spend an extra dollar or go to a specialty foods store to find seafood that has been caught from sustainable fish populations! It also provided such a wonderful chance to talk to fishermen who are actively using sustainable methods and focusing on fish populations that can support a long-term fishery. We often see the fishermen being painted as the “bad guys” and it was wonderful to meet people who have dedicated their livelihood to finding sustainable ways to fish and make a living.

Plus, I got to eat some of the most AMAZING food! Serious thanks and congrats go out to all the people who participated in the event and the wonderful chefs and culinary students who made all our of tummys extremely happy!

-Amanda Carter, Master’s Student

To learn more about San Diego Oceans Foundation and future events click here.

*All photos are courtesy of Rozanne Holmes Photography.


Parrotfish in San Diego??

Parrotfish sold in market in San Diego

When I see this picture I can’t help but wonder ‘little parrotfish, where are you from?’ The nearest coral reef is well over 1,000 miles away from here!!

Herbivores, especially parrotfish, are an essential component of coral reef ecosystems. Their constant grazing controls increases in algae and clears space for coral and crustose coralline algae growth. When I saw this picture sent to me by a former student from a market right here in San Diego I couldn’t help but wonder what the reef looked like and where it came from. Was it a healthy ecosystem that is resilient to fishing? Was it an already degraded system that needs every last mouth available to keep the algae in check? Who was the person who caught this fish and what are their fishing practices?

The questions that images like this generate define scientific curiosity. I for one am planning on finding some answers!!

scripps oceanography uc san diego