Cladophora in Maunalua Bay
I returned to Hawaii this past Thursday – the breezy trade winds were a welcome relief from the scorching temperatures of the east coast! Who knew you’d have to go to the tropics for a break from the heat?
Shaunna has been working very hard while I was gone for my meetings on the mainland and she already has a lot of data to work with! That marine Cladophora sample she talked about in the last post ended up being badly infected with a marine fungus, making it unusable for our experiments. With the second trial coming to a close in a few days, we really needed to get some marine samples for her to work with. I can’t think of a better cure for jetlag than a day in the field (especially when your field involves the beaches of Hawaii!), so after catching up with the folks in the Sherwood lab at the weekly lab meeting, we headed out to Maunalua Bay.
Maunalua Bay is on the south shore of Oahu and is heavily impacted by urban development. It has also been subjected to several species of invasive algae, one of which is Avrainvillea amadelpha, otherwise known as “leather mudweed”. This green alga displaces the native sea grass that used to be prevalent in the bay and collects sediment and pollutants; it is generally blamed for the degradation of the bay’s ecosystem. A few years ago, an effort to remove this invasive alga from the bay took off in full force, and today there is only a little left. Time will tell if this was an effective fix, but for now at least, the bay looks a lot better. I had used this story as a case study example when I talked to my phycological methods class about mitigation strategies for invasives, so it was great to show Shaunna the place and the plant we had discussed in class!
After looking for a few minutes, we found what we were looking for: many tufts of beautiful Cladophora! We were successful at both of the sites we visited on the bay (this is a huge bay!), so we were very happy…for those of you who haven’t done field work before, it’s not everyday that a day in the field is this successful! Even better was that when we got back to lab and took a look at our collections under the microscope, they were clean and fungus-free! Looks like we are in business to start some experiments on these marine collections!