Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Friday, February 10, 2012

Visit to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology OIMB

Originally posted 6-21-2011

Last week my family and I were at the University of Oregon's "Oregon Institute of Marine Biology", or OIMB for short.  We were there for a retirement celebration for Dr. Lee F. Braithwaite.  He taught marine biology and invertebrate zoology at BYU for 47 years.  He brought students to the coast do to marine biology eachspring for most of those years.  During that time he took students to Baja, Mexico, the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington, the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, in Pacific Grove, CA, and, most recently the OIMB.  It was here that he wanted his retirement celebration to be held.  

Many of Dr. Braithwaite's  former students gathered here from across the country, with one coming from as far away as Guam!  

The OIMB is located in Charleston, Oregon at the end of the road near the mouth of Coos Bay.  The OIMB is nestled into evergreen forest.  It's a beautiful setting, as these photos show.  

The photo above shows the main entrance to the OIMB, and the photo below shows the Administration Building.  All of the buildings at the lab have a similar look and style.  Very Oregon!  It truly is a beautiful campus.

The photo below shows one of the research labs where resident scientists have their space, and visiting researchers may be assigned space here as well.  This lab building boasts a scanning electron microscope, scanning tunneling scope, a well-equipped imagery lab, and other impressive facilities.

This building (see below) houses the dining hall, kitchen, and a lecture hall on the lower floor.  The upper floor is devoted to dormitory space.  When it is meal time, one of the cooks comes out onto to this building's porch and rings a large, loud, brass bell.  You don't want to miss that!    

This is one of the two teaching lab buildings.  Each of these buildings houses two teaching labs.  One is a dry lab building, while the other building's labs have running seawater tables.  One of the specialties of researchers here is larval biology.  That means that you have to have high quality seawater to do that work, or your larvae die.  The OIMB has top-notch water quality!

This is one of the teaching labs - actually the one where I will teach field marine biology when I go to the OIMB with groups of students from my institution, BYU-Idaho.  This lab accommodates about 20 students.  The seawater tables run along one wall of the lab.

These are the seawater tables where you can keep marine animals for demonstration purposes, and where lab experiments can be carried out.

There is a volleyball court between the teaching lab buildings.  A sand volleyball court is standard equipment for marine labs all across the country.  At least every lab I've been to has had one...well, I don't remember if the Isle of Shoals Marine Lab had one.  Anyway, volleyball seems to be the sport of marine biologists everywhere. 

This photo shows some of the grounds at the OIMB. It's a beautiful and well-kept campus.

This is the library at the lab.  It's a nice place with hard copy holdings focusing mainly on the biota and habitats of the Pacific NW.  If you are at the labs, you also have access to the University of Oregon's on-line databases, etc.  So, it's a pretty sweet deal!

Even the maintenance buildings and motor pool look nice!

As you walk farther up the road past the administration and research buildings you will soon come to the cottages where visiting researchers and other visitors to the labs are housed.  They are named appropriately, Cottage 1-4.  They have a townhouse floor plan, with a kitchen area and sitting room on the ground floor, and two bedrooms on the upper floor.

If you continue all the way to the end of the road, passing a housing complex for the US Coast Guard you will reach the Boathouse lecture hall, shown here.  This building was built originally to house rescue boats for the newly formed Coast Guard.  Today it serves as a lecture hall for the OIMB.  Again, originally, there were large doors that opened, and rescue boats could be run down a sloping pier into the water.

Right next to the Boathouse is the Beach Cottage.  This small 2-BR cottage was, according to Craig Young, Director of the OIMB, the first building that was built for the Coast Guard when it was established during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.  Before 1908 the US Life Saving Service, the Coast Guard's predecessor patrolled America's beaches and treacherous shores.  The Beach House was a housing unit for the Coast Guard.  This is the cottage where my family and I stayed for three nights.  As you can see, it has large picture windows that look out on the entrance to Coos Bay.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  Craig Young told me that he put us in that unit in an effort to have my wife have a great experience so she'd encourage me to come back with students.  It worked (plus I was already planning to come back anyway).

The Charleston, OR, marina/harbor is right across the street from the OIMB.  This is a working commercial fishing harbor.  Also anchored in this marina is the OIMB's research vessel, the RV Pluteus.  While we were there it was being outfitted with a heavy duty winch in order to allow it to handle the station's newest acquisition, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can go as deep as 600 meters.

This is the RV Pluteus.  When I bring my students here, we will go out on the Pluteus to do plankton tows and bottom dredges to collect samples for analysis in the lab.  By the way, "pluteus" is the term used to refer to the swimming larval stage of sea urchins and brittle stars.

While the OIMB is a beautiful campus, it is right across the street from a commercial cannery and working fishing harbor.  This means that the operations across the street are industrial and commercial.  In other words, there's not really anyplace to go right next to the marine station, which really helps students focus on their work without a lot of outside distractions.  So it's not all bad!

The next few photos show the intertidal zone in front of the Boat House at low tide.  We were there during a very nice low tide series.  It had to be at least -2.0'.  You can also see the remains of the old pier where the rescue boats were run out into the water.

If you continue on beyond the Beach House you will come down over a small cliff onto the OIMB beach. It's a small pocket beach between the shoreline and a breakwater.  My daughter Emily is in the foreground.

The rocky intertidal zone beyond the beach looks like it's in great shape - not very trampled.  There is LOTS of algae and surf grass, as well as a nice diversity of invertebrate animals.  It'll be a nice place to introduce students to this habitat, and it's just a short stroll away from the lab.

Our visit at the OIMB was fantastic!  If all goes according to plan I will return there in the Spring of 2012 with a group of BYU-Idaho students to teach a field course in marine biology and to give my students a chance to do some supervised research.  

I'm already a fan of the OIMB, and I've only been there for 4 days. 

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