Thursday, April 25, 2019

It's almost time for MBFE 2019

It's t-minus six days until Day 1 of the 2019 BYU-Idaho Marine Biology Field Experience (MBFE).

Every two years, during the first half of the Spring Semester, the Biology Department at BYU-Idaho  offers a hands-on field experience in marine biology and marine ecology.  During the MBFE, BYU-Idaho students live and work at the University of Oregon's marine biological station on Coos Bay, southern Oregon coast.

There are 15 participants this year, and you will get to know them once the experience begins.

As usual, my experience starts before the students'.  I have spent the past few days rounding up gear, packing equipment, books and other things we'll need during the field experience.  All there is to do now is load up and head for the coast where I will meet the students when they arrive at the marine lab on May 1st.

Before things get started, let me give you an idea of what students do while they are part of the MBFE.

The schedule is busy and is built around the tides.  When the tides are low, we go into the field.  So, here's a typical day when there is a low tide in the afternoon:

7:00-7:30 am - breakfast in the marine lab dining hall
9:00 am - 2-3 hour lecture on a marine community, e.g., the muddy intertidal community
12:00-12:30 pm - lunch in the dining hall
1:00 pm - two or three hours in the field exploring a nearby muddy intertidal community, collecting data and specimens to bring back to seawater aquaria in our lab/classroom.
5:30-6:00 pm - dinner in the dining hall
After dinner - students  spend time in the classroom/lab identifying specimens collected earlier that day and talking about possible ideas for research projects

Students certainly get their money's worth during the MBFE since they are often busy and engaged from before 7am often until 10pm.  They study in the classroom, the lab and in the field just about every day until we have visited every major intertidal community we have ready access to: exposed and protected rocky intertidal communities, sandy shores, muddy beaches, an estuary with salt and freshwater marshes, and piers and floating docks.  We also go out on a research vessel to collect organisms from shallow subtidal communities as well as plankton that we study later in the lab.

Stay tuned for updates on these activities as they happen, as well as student research projects that will be conducted starting roughly a week after we arrive.

I look forward to sharing our experiences with you.  Before long you may wish you could be here too.  The southern Oregon coast truly is a wonderfully diverse place, and once you've visited it you'll never forget it.

I'll be back with new postings in about a week.  Cheers!!