Marine Invertebrate Zoology Class Blog

For the last five weeks I’ve been the TA for Marine Invertebrate Zoology at FHL, taught by Gustav Paulay and Bernadette Holthuis.  One of the students’ assignments was to create a blog post about one animal, interaction, or activity from the course.  Our goal is to begin a record of marine invertebrates from the San Juan Islands that documents specific behaviors and appearances that may not be readily available in other online or text resources.


Invertebrate Ball

06 July saw the return of the Invertebrate Ball to the San Juan Islands.  This annual celebration of invertebrates, marine biology and awkward dancing culminated in the Parade of Invertebrates through the FHL dining hall.  Best costume awards went to the Best Food Web Family, Best Rendition of a Cephalopod, and Best Pervertebrate, among others.


Here’s me, an anemone protecting my symbiotic clownfish from two attacking mantis shrimp.


Tritonia looking to feed on a juvenile sea pen.


Red and purple urchins.


Blanket octopus, horseshoe crab and an acoelomate.


A pack of juvenile invertebrates.


The Best Pervertebrate: Pluteus maximus

Diver for a Day

Friday Harbor Labs runs a Diver-for-a-Day program that brings students (typically elementary age) out on our R/V Centennial for a half day.  Divers don a full-face AGA mask with a wireless microphone to communicate with the boat and a tethered video camera to transmit video.  We go for a ~30min dive, showing the students around the undersea world.  The microphone system lets us speak directly with students, answer their questions while on the dive, and zoom the camera in on the things they get particularly interested in.

The trip begins with an introduction the equipment we use and a little about diving practices.


Make sure to wear your halo.


It’s a long way back to the surface.


Eye to eye with the diver.


Is everyone ok?


Getting strapped in.


While we’re underwater, here’s what the students see.

They sent us some great thank you cards too!



Underwater Observatory


Deployment and initial sampling with an observatory node. Photo:

The Friday Harbor Labs is the testing site for a data collection node as part of the world’s largest ocean observatory network.  This node will be installed off of Cantilever Point, and will allow scientists to connect oceanographic probes, cameras and other data recorders.  This node is installed at 35m depth, shallow enough that it can be easily serviced by scuba divers to work out any kinks before the more extensive network gets installed at much deeper depths.  This network is part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Sebens Lab divers (Derek Smith, Tim Dwyer and myself) have completed several dives to the test node site in preparation for its installation.  The node is powered and feeds information back to FHL by a cable connected to the seawater intake pumphouse.  The cable runs down a series of rocky ledges to a flat sand and shell hash bottom, where the node rests on a pallet, awaiting data recorders.  Initial testing will begin this summer.

The network was recently featured in a UW news article.

The test node is located off the point at the east edge of the FHL developed area. The pumphouse building is visible on the point at the bottom of this photo.