Last weekend, I drove down to Monterey with a group of Stanford students for a few hours. It’s only a two-hour drive from campus, so it was a nice mini-vacation by the ocean. The first thing we did was visit the Hopkins Marine Station, which is owned and operated by Stanford University. Hopkins was opened in 1892 as a “seaside laboratory”, and conducts ocean research and offers classes in marine biology, fisheries management, and biostatistics. You can learn more about the Hopkins Marine Station here. We began by clambering around the tide pools, which are teeming with life. We saw birds, seals, eels, anemones, and many other species up close, and it was wonderful to smell the ocean once again. Then we visited the library, which is now my favorite Stanford library, and some of the labs and classrooms. I am planning to study there for one or two quarters during my time at Stanford, so it was wonderful to visit and get a tour of the station. Here are some photos of Hopkins and its beautiful surroundings (click on each photo to zoom in):
We then visited the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was literally right next door! I’m usually not the biggest fan of seeing animals in enclosed spaces, but this aquarium is one of the best in the nation, and conducts research, conservation, rescue, and education efforts. They also created the Seafood Watch program, in which people can learn about the relative sustainability and safety of various different types of fish that are found at restaurants. To learn more about the Monterey Bay Aquarium, click here. Here’s a sampling of the amazing creatures I saw at the aquarium (click on each photo to zoom in):
As you can see, I really enjoyed the jellyfish. The spotted jellies were especially cute – they were pretty small and all clumped together in the corner. While I was watching them swim around, I wondered why they have spots in the first place. A quick Google search told me that scientists don’t actually know, but they do know of a new species that has recently evolved from the spotted jelly: the golden jelly. Here’s a picture:
These little guys emerged in Palau, an autonomous island nation located in the southwest Pacific (east of the Phillipines and north of Australia and Papua New Guinea). I will actually be in Palau for three weeks this summer, so perhaps I’ll run into a golden jelly while I’m there! (Well hopefully not literally run into one….ouch). If you’re interested in learning more about the relationship between the spotted jelly and the golden jelly, read this article by M.N. Dawson.
My quick trip to Monterey was so much fun, and it was great to spend time by the ocean and get excited to study here in the future. I can’t wait to learn more about the amazing processes that have led to the emergence of the wonderful animals I saw today. I am planning to pursue environmental policy, and want to do everything I can to protect the ocean. Because as goes the health of the ocean, so goes the health of the entire planet.