In this Newsletter...

We feature current research, events and outreach activities at SDSU's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory.
Lee Reeve, MS Student

In this issue:

Featured Research

  • Nursery habitat for juvenile halibut

  • A day in the life...

  • Why is being a biologist awesome?

  • Fun Facts

Photo of the Month
CMIL Open House

Shout outs!

Photo of the Month:

Students from Health Science High & Middle College identify organisms from eelgrass beds in San Diego Bay during their school field trip to CMIL last month.


Come learn about the research that is conducted at CMIL at our public Open House this March! There will be interactive activities for all ages, games, lab tours, research talks, a raffle, and more! 

What: CMIL Open House
When: March 10th, 10am-3 pm
Where: CMIL, 4165 Spruance Rd. 

**Admission is FREE** Food will be provided by the Fishmarket**

Shout Outs!

Congratulations to Dr. Jeremy Long for receiving a California Sea Grant Focus Award ($49,749) - Scale insects: emergent threats to salt march restoration (2013). Read more about Dr. Long's research here and his scientific outreach here.

Recent Publications:
Dolecal, R.E. and J.D. Long (2013). Ephemeral macroalgae display spatial variation in relative palatability. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 440:233-237.

Rochman, C.M., Browne, M.A., Halpern, B.S., Hentschel, B.T., Hoh, E., Karapanagioti, H.K., Rios-Mendoza. L.M., Takada, H., Teh, S., and R.C. Thompson. 2013. Policy: Classify plastic waste as hazardous. Nature 494: 169-171.

Student Research Awards
Congratulations to the SDSU students receiving research grants this past month! 

COAST Awards: Tye Nichols, Amalia DeGrood, Alterra Sanchez, Emily Jones, Alex Warneke. Read more here.

Inamori Fellowships: Alex Warneke & Emily Jones

Phycological Society of American Grants-in-Aid of Research: Matt Brown & Emily Jones

Anchor QEA: Violet Compton

GWWF Fisheries Scholarship: Sarah Wheeler

Roche/454 Life Science Travel Award: Michael Doane

Featured Research:
Nursery Habitat for Juvenile Halibut

By, Lee Reeve, M.S. Student

Being a tiny fish isn't easy!  Throughout the course of their lives, many fishes move from the open ocean to coastal nursery habitats, and then back to deep off-shore areas.  All that traveling leaves them vulnerable to lots of predators and variable food resources.  Fish mortality is especially high when they’re very young, so ending up in a nursery habitat with plenty of food and places to hide from predators is critical to allow them to grow up to be successful adults.  The goal of my research is to determine the pros and cons of the coastal nurseries available to juvenile California halibut in San Diego.  I conduct experiments in San Diego Bay to learn about juvenile halibut habitat preference, and about their ability to find prey and avoid predators in different habitat types.

Lee and Alex collect and measure juvenile halibut using a beach seine.
Unlike most fishes, halibut are flat and have both eyes on the same side of their head.  This body plan allows them to sit on the bottom, where their dappled-brown color helps them to blend into the sediment. Because halibut are so well camouflaged in sandy habitat, benefits of highly-structured habitat like eelgrass has been largely overlooked, despite its well-documented benefits to other juvenile marine organisms.  Eelgrass provides rich prey resources and lots of hiding places.  My research shows that access to eelgrass and to sandy habitat may be important to halibut. Juvenile halibut show a strong preference for eelgrass in habitat choice experiments, but their survival is significantly higher in sandy habitat where they can bury themselves easily. To read the full article, click here.

A day in the life...

I think jumping in the ocean is the best possible way to start the day.  I usually get to the CMIL early and head straight to my field site in San Diego Bay with a dive buddy (often another grad student in the Hovel Lab).  All my experiments are done underwater, so we put on our SCUBA gear and descend! After setting up experiments or collecting data, we head back to the beach and pull a large net called a seine through the water to collect halibut to use in later experiments.  

Alex helps beach seine for juvenile fish.

Back at the CMIL, I spend the rest of my day taking care of the fish I keep there, building and repairing field equipment, sorting and identifying samples of halibut prey under the microscope, and working on other Hovel Lab projects.
To read the full article about Lee and her research click here.
: Lee Reeve, M.S. Student, contact at

Juvenile halibut

Juvenile halibut (Paralichthys californicus)

Fun Facts

  • Halibut fossils have been found in So. CA from 5.3 million years ago!
  • Adult CA halibut can grow to 5 ft long and weigh 70 lbs. Their relatives, Pacific halibut, can grow 9 ft long and weigh 500 lbs!
  • CA halibut belong to the family of "left-eyed" flatfishes, but just as there are right- and left-handed people, CA halibut can be right or left eyed! This is rare, as most flatfishes are defined by their eye location and are only either right-eyed or only left-eyed .

Lee and her thesis advisor, Dr. Kevin Hovel, collaborate on research projects at CMIL.

Why is being a biologist awesome?

I love being a marine biologist because it’s such a fun challenge.  I need to be able to think critically and creatively to design effective experiments, design and build specialized equipment, do physically challenging field work, and be detail-oriented as I enter and analyze data and identify tiny organisms under the microscope.  Biology is a truly collaborative field, and I love meeting and working with other scientists. Read more about Lee and her research here.

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4165 Spruance Rd.
San Diego, CA 92101
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