UW News

May 22, 2003

Students get hands-on research experience on cruise

News and Information

Students grabbed sediment, sieved for shrimp and viewed plankton with a video microscope during Puget Sound research cruises led by UW alumnus Jim Norris.

Norris, who earned a doctorate in fishery sciences, captained the half-day journeys for groups of up to 20 students, members of the aquatic environmental conservation and management classes taught by professor Robert Francis and Highline Community College’s marine biology class taught by Rus Higley, a UW master’s degree student in marine affairs.

The 43-foot vessel operated by Norris was once a charter fishing boat but is now outfitted with equipment to monitor sediments, water, plants and animals of Puget Sound. In collaboration with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Norris and his crew currently have contracts for three monitoring projects in the Port Townsend area. The public is invited to get involved as part of what is known as the Menzies project, named for Archibald Menzies, the shipboard naturalist with George Vancouver’s expedition that sailed into Puget Sound in 1792.

The trips offered for the UW and Highline Community College students involved work along the Seattle waterfront. They used a sediment sampler to grab thin layers from the bottom at the mouth of the Duwamish River and along Alki Beach — finding a sharp contrast, with the Duwamish sample full of polychaete worms and the Alki Beach sample having mostly clams and snails. During the trip they also lowered an underwater camera to monitor eelgrass and beds of sea pen, marine animals related to sea anemones, and sampled water quality and plankton.

One can see the preliminary counts and findings of the expeditions under entries for May 10 and 11 at http://www.menziesproject.org/Pages/LogBook2003.htm.