Thursday, July 18, 2013

Marine Naturalist Training

So as part of my internship I am attending a Marine Naturalist Training program put on by the Whale Museum and organized (and partially taught) by my boss, Cindy. It's only the first day, but already I have a wealth of information.

We got these giant binders full of information and with a schedule. It's six grueling days of intense training and then BAM! we're done! Today was mostly about salmon. We learned about the five different types of local salmon (Chinook/King, Pink/Humpy, Coho, Sockeye, Chum) and how they differ in their lifestyles as well as the fact that over 131 different species depend on these salmon here.

I don't really want to type out the whole life cycle of a salmon, so instead, I'll just give you guys some new vocab I learned.

Estuary: the part of the salmon's life cycle when it transitions from living in fresh water to living in salt water. Some very important biological changes happen during this stage and it takes different lengths of time for the different salmon involved. Some salmon barely have any estuary part of their cycle, while others can spend up to 6 or 7 years for the whole process.

Keystone Species: a species that, if removed from an ecosystem, could result in the loss of the entire ecosystem. A.k.a. a species that everything depends on. (hint: salmon is this)

Smolt: salmon that are experiencing the changes that are turning them from freshwater to saltwater fish.

In addition to learning about salmon, we also had a representative from Wolf Hollow (the local rehabilitation center for animals) come and talk about all the animals native (and invasive) to the San Juan Islands. It's super interesting to realize that some islands only host certain animals and even more cool that there are some endangered species that live in only a precious few biospheres that this island provides. Did you know that they have over eight species of bats right here on San Juan Island?! I am super pumped.

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