Flat foram

Windy ride
By  Nicole Webster

I had a thin section made of one of my shells, and it came back with a serendipitous hitchhiker. A foraminiferan, you know, those single celled protists that make a gorgeous test (shell) usually out of calcium carbonate? Well it was at just the right place to be beautifully sectioned itself. The section is 30um thick of a 5cm shell, and the foram itself is only 0.5mm wide.

Foram thin section in plane polarized light. Credit N. Webster

Foram thin section in plane polarized light.  The darker spots inside the test are probably dried up tissue, and the little balls underneath the test are probably the glue used to attach the foram to the shell. Credit N. Webster

Foram thin section in cross polarized light. Credit N. Webster

Foram thin section in cross polarized light. Credit N. Webster

Thin sections are typically used in geology to identify different crystals, and thus the rocks that they are made up of. I recommend a quick Google image search, some are really quite pretty. Here I was using it to see how many layers and in what orientation the crystals are layed down in my snails.
A chunk of rock (or shell) is ground down as smoothly as possible to 30um (0.03mm) so that it is transparent. Once under the microscope, a polarizing filter is used to see crystal features better. A cross polarizing filter is used to see interference colours, allowing greater characterization of the mineral. That is why the second image looks a little like something from the 60s. Although the CaCO3 is relatively clear, the glass of the slide refracts the light quite a bit, making a psychodelic pick rainbow. This is a very simplistic view of thin sectioning, please correct me if I’ve misunderstood something.

PS I learned a new word making this post. Arenaceous. It means sandy, or likes sand (for plants), and specifies a geologic grain size ranging from 2 to 0.625mm. In this context it means those foraminifera that don’t grow their own shell, but rather glue bits (read:sediments particles) together to make a shell.

References
1. Rock-Forming Minerals in Thin Section. Steve Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin. https://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/Petrology/thinsect.htm
2. Corliss, B. H. 1985. Microhabitats of benthic foraminifera within deep-sea sediments. Nature 314:435-438.

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And now for something completely different

By Nicole Webster

Perhaps we are a little focused on invertebrates here, or perhaps this gorgeous weather has gone to my head, but I have a ‘treat’ for you for an Image Fest Friday.

Fish bones dried on the docks. Not that interesting. Can anyone ID the parts?

Fish bones dried on the docks. Not that interesting. Can anyone ID the parts?

Yeah, sorry, its poop. but whose?

Yeah, sorry, its poop. but whose?

That is clearly no bird poop. From the diameter I was thinking cat-sized.

That is clearly no bird poop. From the diameter I was thinking cat-sized.

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It was all over the docks, to the dismay of Janice who washed it all off. She also solved my mini mystery. Its river otter poop! It is regularly appearing on the docks, and I saw a couple playing there earlier in the year, so there may be some living nearby.

“Why Bamfield, British Columbia is unique, awesome and you should go there” part III

Bridgette just posted the last of her 3 part series on Why Bamfield, British Columbia is unique, awesome and you should go there. Part 3: Learning.

Do go check it out. I praised her and her blog last week, which you can check out here.

Bracket (shelf) fungus. Why? Because. Credit: N Webster

Bracket (shelf) fungus. Why? Because. Credit: N Webster

 

“Why Bamfield, BC is unique awesome and you should go there” – Bridgette Clarkson

A friend of mine has a wonderful blog. It is insightful, delightful and full of photos. Bridgette just completed a stint working as a public educator for BMSC, and described herself as a biologist and science education consultant.


Crashing Bull kelp (c) Bridgette Clarkson

In honour of World Oceans day (yesterday), she posted the 2nd part of her 3 part series about her time in Bamfield this year.

I strongly encourage you to check them out, if only for the breathtaking imagery.

Do check out some of her other posts like how to check marine forecasts, or her flickr stream.

Sandy Mussel beds II

Windy ride

By  Nicole Webster
I was back at Ross this Spring, and am here to update you on the state of the mussel bed on the beach. Short form: It’s still there! (last year’s post)

Overview of the bed, facing the point. Credit: N Webster

Overview of the bed, facing the point. Credit: N Webster

 

Close up of the mussels. They are about 5cm in length. Credit N. Webster

Close up of the mussels. They are about 5cm in length. Credit N. Webster

The mussels are big enough, I could believe they are the same as last year’s, and if so, must have survived the winter storms without a good anchor due to the very protective nature of the beach.

New face of BMSC

By Nicole Webster

Some of you more social-networky types may have notices a few changes. This is the first step in a huge rebranding project! The information and quotes below were given to me by Heather Alexander, who is the project manager. The opinions stated below are my own.

Purpose

The BMSC brand is broader than its visual identity, more than a signature or symbol. Our brand is the intangible sum of the our attributes: its name, values, offerings, people, its history and reputation and the way it is experienced and promoted. “

I think the idea is to show off to others what the BMSC is, and give it a facelift at the same time.

Why?

  • Well a big reason is the loss of NSERC funding, which has been a big blow to the station. The idea is to create a fresh image, promoting the station to its member universities, as well as to possible funding sources, and hopefully keeping things running.
    • A big part of this campaign will be to change the way our  five member universities (UVic, SFU, UBC, UofA, UofC) look at the BMSC. “[T]o raise the profile of BMSC and show that BMSC is a valued asset, and to give a sense of ownership to the home universities.” Before I arrived, I though if BMSC a ‘field station’, an offshoot of the biology department for research or some undergrad courses. This is becoming less true, and the BMSC wants to remind/inform the universities of that, “to engage the member universities in the idea that BMSC is a branch of their campus, with facilities useful to many departments.” BMSC has started making inroad into other areas of research, offering popular non-biology courses in archaeology, ethonobotany, science for non science majors, and science film making and journalism. The same sort of outreach has been going on at the research level, with social scientists staying on station and engineers coming to use the gigantic flume for fluid dynamics studies
  • A second reason is discontinuity. The Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre used to be the Bamfield Marine Station, and not everything was changed to reflect the new name (eg. www.bms.bc.ca, rather than the new www.bamfieldmsc.com [Both links still work]). The starfish logo is no always the same colour or shape, and is thus not standardized.
  • A third reason is opportunity: “Mark Doherty, owner of Massif, a PR/Design firm from Vancouver, and a part time resident of Bamfield, has offered the services of his company at a greatly reduced rate.”

What?

We have already seen some changes on the internet. There have been updates to twitter, facebook, youtube, google+, and linkedin, and the main webpage.

They have also created a single BMSC alumni facebook group, as a single place to make updates available to past students, and a place where all of us can interact, rather than in our separate cohorts (eg. summer 2012, fall 2013…).

The merchandise is being updated, with the first order already arrived, reflecting the new logo and colour scheme.

Mock up of the new merchandise. Don't fret, they have hoodies too! (and T-shirts, sweat pants, toques, travel mugs...)

Mock up of the new merchandise. Don’t fret, they have hoodies too! (and T-shirts, sweat pants, toques, travel mugs…)

Changes are ongoing, and most are superficial to date, creating a uniform scheme to the BMSC web presence, as well as in brochures, buisiness cards, headers, signage at the station… However, I’m quite excited for the major update to the webpage that is forthcoming, updating information, and (hopefully) making the site more usable.

Thoughts

As always, change is scary. I like the idea of bringing things into line, and especially the idea of better advertising to the member universities. Not only to increase enrollment but to hopefully increase funding and appreciation by the administrations.

There’s two new taglines (anyone know what the old one was, if it exists?):

‘Immerse yourself’
‘Your oceanside campus’

The first is clever and cute, the second seems more practical, and aimed directly at the universities, rather than students/clients.

I really don’t like the new logo. I see that it is stylish, and fresh, and its still got a starfish, but its all soft edges and texture. I understand that a new logo is expected with a revamp, but I love the simplicity of the coil-y starfish. If I were in charge (but I’m not, and I have no idea of the behind-doors situation), I would have made the font and colour changes, but left the starfish – a continuity to the past, a commitment to not too much change from what we love, nor a focus on appearance over substance.

One version of old logo, simple.

One version of old logo.

New logo.

New logo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do like the picture heavy content. The beauty of BMSC and Barkley sound are a major part of its success. I would note that both of these images are biologically impossible with water going only halfway up, but I like the style.

Google+ header

Google+ header.

Facebook header

Facebook header

I’m also very excited to arrive in Bamfield, and see what practical changes (if any) will be made to the station itself and how it is run. I hope this will make the difference.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Footer of website and letterhead.

Footer of website and letterhead.

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