Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 6: Spectacle Island? ...Not so much.

I titled this blog post "Day 6" but that was just for the sake of consistency with my previous blog posts. The real reason for this blog, as Professor Berman mentioned the last day of class, was to give our comments on the class and our overall experience. To be honest, this post is really bittersweet for me. While I am just as excited as everyone else to complete the course and carry on with the summer, I still really enjoyed this course and the new friends I met through it and would rather have not had to say goodbye so soon. I would like to give a personal thank you to Professor Berman.
Thanks to you I now not only know more about the clean-up of the harbor as well as the process of the clean-up, and the marine life in the different tidal zones of the harbor, as well as which were native or invasive creatures--and how those invasive creatures got here and how they can really alter our environment and landscape, and the different (and number of) islands in the harbor, how to draw a good map of the harbor, the different parts of a striped bass, what types of bait striped bass eat and the real debate going on today concerning striped bass and the commercial & recreational fishermen, the limitations and dangers of overpopulation, I certainly know how much credit everyone should give to the original scientist-marine-life-identifiers before the days with pictures and guidebooks, and I also know to stay true to my observations, but be prepared and open to the idea of altering my theories. Oh and I know where to get a good bite of seafood on the harbor too. Somehow within a 6 1/2 day period you were able to teach myself and my peers all that information. It is quite a feat and I think everyone owes you another round of applause.
I should also thank you for making me--as my little cousins describe it--the "coolest cousin ever!" to go with to the beach. Haha I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing that kind of reaction from their younger family members.
This class was more work than I was expecting to be honest--and I don't mean that I expected it to be easy or a light work load, but I mean that I thought I would have an easier time doing the work. However, some of the assignments, like identifying the different creatures under the dock and drawing a map of the harbor, proved to be more challenging than I anticipated. Overall, the class was intense, I did learn a great deal while making new friends and sharing many good laughs, and I am so proud to have been apart of the whole experience.
To all of my classmates and to my professor, I hope you have a wonderful summer filled with many laughs and much joy. It was pleasure to have met you all.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last Day

I really enjoyed taking this class. We had a very diverse group and I got to meet many new people whom I enjoyed learning with. I have been and will continue to recommend this class to others. Living in Boston my entire life I never really knew what the boston harbor and Islands had to offer until now. Now I know it is rich in history and marine life. From now on anytime I go to the beach or am around the ocean I will know where to look for Mussels and periwinkles and everything else that is in or around the ocean. I will be able to name plants and animals that live in and on the beach. Not only did I learn about marine life but I also learned to tell the difference between belief and fact! I learned how to observe and make decisions on what I see rather than what I believe or what I hear. My favorite part of the class was traveling to the different islands and going whale watching. I am now able to draw a map of the Boston Harbor. I now know about the trouble that commercial and recreational fishermen face with the diminishing fish population. Overall i really enjoyed this class and I had a great experience and I owe it all to Professor Berman, Thank you.

Day 5: Whale Watching!

Pictures By: Janelle Bean
Event: ES141 Whale Watch
Departure from: Boston Harbor Long Wharf

*I apologize that the pictures are so small, there were a lot of them so this was the easiest way to get them up. This isn't even all the pictures either! If you click on them you should get a new tab with a closer view :)

**While scanning through the pictures take note of the different tail fins and the difference in some of the exposed dorsal fins as well. One for example you can tell is the dorsal fin of an older whale, because up close you can see the fin has some scratches, perhaps caused by something like a passing boat? Either way enjoy!

I had a great time experiencing the whale watch with my fellow classmates Thursday. I had been whale watching before, off the coast of Newburyport I believe, but each time is different. Some of the highlights of our class whale watching trip were....

- The whales turning in the water and showing it's fin.
- The three whales together (apparently a rare occurrence for these loners).
- The whales breaching!

Out of all these I would have to say that seeing the whales breaching was easily my favorite part of the experience. I felt like I was 6 years old and watching Free Willy all over again. It was one of those moments that makes you realize just how majestic these creatures are... I guess that ties in to why I feel they shouldn't be hunted. There's just something about whales that makes me more empathetic toward them. It could be that we're both mammals and therefore closer related in the web of life. In a way it makes sense, after all it does mean that we are similar in the way we both carry our children, give birth to them and then take care of them until they are old enough to survive on their own. In this way it makes them seem more humane and thus more like humans. Whales are also smart creatures. As Professor Berman mentioned in class, you can communicate with a whale in the way that you can understand what they are feeling at times through their eyes and their behavior. Just the other day, there was an excerpt on the news about how whale watchers had found a humpback whale which they initially thought to be dead. That was until after a forceful rush of air from it's blow hole. At that point one of the men went in the water to see what was wrong. They soon discovered the whole whale was tied down in nylon fishing lines. It's pectoral fins were held down to it's side and the tail of the creature was also entangled and held down. Trapped, tangled and dying, the whale continued to toss and turn while the kind men tried to cut the ropes. The whale decided to try and swim away and tugged the boat about a half mile before finally tiring out. Once the whale had stopped the men quickly continued to cut the ropes off. This process repeated a few more times before they successfully untangled the whale. The whale was so excited that it rushed off and breached at least 40 times while in view of the men and they say that the tail of the whale flapped a few times on it's final dive, as if waving good bye to the men. The rescuers will tell you that the whale was putting on a show for them out of pure liberating excitement, if not gratitude. Whether that is truly what the whale meant we will never know, but it does suggest that the whale was trying to communicate some message, whatever it may have been. The link to the webpage on the news is below, and underneath it is also the specific youtube video link by The Great Whale Conservancy on the story through the whale watchers personal footage. It's a great story and I recommend those of you who have 10 min. to spare to watch the video.

Webpage article on story:

Youtube link:

As a result of miracle stories like the one mentioned above and the beauty and maternal instincts of these animals~along with the fact that I highly doubt we would be able to control the fishermen and whale-hunters if we ever did allow the public to hunt these creatures~I feel it is wrong to hunt them and believe they should be protected.

Whale Watch & final thoughts on this course

On Thursday July 28, 2011at 10:00 am I met my class at Marriot, Long Wharf and from there we left for our much awaited Whale Watch trip. As you all can see in the picture how excited everyone was. When we first boarded the cruise it was moving slow and quickly picked up speed which made me and 3 of my other classmates seasick. However, I was still enthusiastic about seeing whales, our tour guide kept us informed with whale facts that usually we will spot humpbacks these Northern hemisphere whales reach an average length of 50 feet, and weigh about 37 tons. Sadly, they're also among the most endangered. It is estimated only 8 percent of their original population remains.
We spotted also saw minke, fin back whales. Minke was smaller than the other 2 and resembled dolphins. The next one was Finback whale, at 45-70 feet long and weighing 40 tons, are second in size only to blue whales.According to our guide finbacks may live up to 100 years which was surprising. While white-sided whaled are only found in North Atlantic water just south of New England. We also spotted the Whales traveling in a pair that is most likely to be a mother and a calf, and most of these whales reproduce only once, which makes the possibility of this creature going extinct highly likely. The cruise was very crowded and I thought I would never be able to see a whale, but I made my way through the crowd and caught some really worth-watching "Whale Moves". In the end we also saw the Whale breaching which put an extra icing on the cake.

In the end I would like to wrap up the most hands-on class I have ever taken. I enjoyed everyday of the class. This is the whole new level of learning about Earth Science. I can tell my friends and family some fun facts that I never knew before. We explored the Islands, under the dock, Whale Watch, and even Quicny market. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone who would want to take an for Earth Sciences class. Thanks to all the group and class fellows who made this class so interactive. Ofcourse without Prof. Berman this would not have been possible.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Final Class

I have to be honest, I had such an amazing time spending the last two weeks getting to know each person in the class. I think there were so many strengths that each of us brought to each day and I really feel lucky to have been able to meet everyone and share some laughs around the bay.

It was so fun to learn about the harbor. I want to thank Prof. Berman for enabling the opportunity for so many people to discover the beauty of the bay and to appreciate marine life. It really helps to make vague concepts more tangible and will hopefully help to motivate better behavior.

Again, I really wish everyone the best for the future, you are all very special and have so many wonderful personalities. It has been such a gift to spend time with you all.

Whale Watch at Stellwagon

Whale watch
The whale watch was a great experience to get beyond the inner harbor and into Stellwagon bay. It took the boat approximately an hour to get out to our observation location. The boat was moving very quickly and on the way I noticed a kite fisherman, he had a kite in the air and apparently as a classmate explained lures that lay on the waters surface rather than the traditional way of doing it.

I wonder what its like to be fishing with a boat so low to the water and being right up next to a breaching whale. It would be a spectacular view. The air got chilly and I went downstairs while we waited to get to our destination. Once we got there I got a great spot on the first level although some of the other passengers were very tall I still could get a great view of the each whale as it came into view.

I got really excited when you could see the white part just below the surface and know that in a few moments it will be coming up into better view. I kept my camera in my bag for awhile because I knew I would miss a lot just trying to get the best shot so I focused more on what I could see. I definitely noticed the differences on the bottom side of the tail fin.

I was shocked that we got to see them swimming and diving together in a group of three. I thought that was a unique sight also getting to see the whale breaching it was really amazing I have never seen anything like that in person. It was a really wonderful day and I look forward to getting into the paper and better developing my stance on sustainable populations vs. economic gains... It really does take some thought to separate your own values for everything and everyone involved and how to come to terms with the two.


A Great Group of Classmates

You enter a classroom and not knowing what to expect. Never knowing that you may have classmates that cause a lot of trouble or classmates that are one sided and do not what to work with you on any projects. They also seem to come up with excuses for everything. Not so in this class. They were all pleasant people. We had graduates and undergraduates that helped each other understand the science of this class with the help of Professor Berman. By having different opinions about the projects that were put before us, it gave everyone a good incite of what was involved in our work. Professor Berman was a joy. He told us to observe everything around us and not make quick judgements on what we see. We need to research and increase the knowledge that is in the brain and bring it out to a higher level. This was a very enjoyable class. By learning what is out there, I felt that my understanding and learning gave me a new incite to explore more. I hoping all my classes in the future are as fun as this one. Thanks.

No regrets

Here's a confession: From Snails to Whales wasn't my first choice actually. I had signed up for travel writing but was later informed by the school that the course was cancelled because of the departure of the lecturer. I was told to find a replacement course. I went through the course website and finally decided on From Snails to Whales for several reasons: it fits perfectly into my travel schedules; field work seems interesting; and most importantly, I have never attended a course in marine science, as schools in Singapore usually offer the more popular and practical course degrees such as finance, law and business administration.

Now that we have come to the end of the course, I wish to declare loudly that I have no regrets signing up for this 'second choice'. Indeed, it has taught me much about marine animals, the issues on environmental and wildlife protection, the ongoing tension between commercial and recreational fishermen that I might never know because of this course as I don't fish, as well as honed my observation and critical thinking skills. I do not have to be a marine biologist, but I definitely could still apply the skills learned in life and other areas.

Boston Harbor is a place worth visiting. I will bring my friend who is coming from Singapore tomorrow to Long Wharf and be Prof Berman No. 2, pointing out the unique marine organisms that one can find at the docks. By the way, the Barking Crab restaurant is a serendipitous discovery for me because of this course. I also saw on Man vs Food program yesterday that it is well known for its clambake. You should see us there next week!

Finally, I would like to convey my thanks to Prof Berman and all my classmates for making this intensive six-day course an enjoyable and memorable one. They have certainly made me love Boston even more. My well wishes to everyone in summer class 2011. Goodbye!

A Whale of a Day

It was a beautiful day for the whale watch. It was about 10:00am and the tide along the dock was high. We walked along Long Wharf down to the ferry that stood like a tall statue that reached out and said let's take a ride to an excursion of a life time. We entered on the Nora Vittoria with all the other people who were going to see a splendor site. The Ferry started out toward Stellwagen Bank were the whales were. It was about a 2 hour ride to the area. The boat slowed down and we knew at that moment we had arrived at our destination. The tour guide announcer started telling us about the regions largest inhabitant. She was telling us to shout out on different hours that indicated the aft and starboard side of the boat to locate the whales. I only saw two whales upon which one was the Humpback who was names Percy. These whales have board and rounded heads. There also a Minke which I wasn't sure of the his or her name, but could have been the one called Kajun. The tour guide announcer said that these whales feed on krill and small- shrimp crustaceans. Sometimes it was very hard to understand the announcer because the microphone, I think was to close to her mouth and it sounded like all words were jumbled together. It was very hard to see over all the tall people. But what I did see was a wonder to behold!! These mammals glided through the water like a big buoy that floats on top of the water.

Their names were given to them by the underside of there flukes which showed either a dark area, a one spot white area or a two spot white area which told the guide the name of the whale. At the very end of the day, going back to the dock, one of the whales put on a show that excited everyone on the boat. He leaped out of the water and down he went. He did this a couple of times and awed the crowd. I think he was putting on a show just for us knowing that we were leaving the area and saying thank you for coming to see us. This day will be planted in my mid forever. I hope someday soon in the near future, I will be able to revisit these wonders of the sea that brought joy to everyone that saw them.

Striped Bass Dissection and Whale Watching

Wednesday we examined a striped bass. The bass was caught by Prof. Berman from his boat at the mouth of the Charles River. This particular fish was caught in brackish water. The first part of the dissection we looked over the fish, the fish was silver and blue, and had a unique stripe pattern going down the length of their body. After we examined the exterior of the fish, we began the filleting process. The first fillet we were very careful not cut open the stomach and thus damaging the meat. After taking out the fillet we de-skinned the fillet. Once the fillets were removed we began dissecting the intestines. We looked inside the stomach and found a few bits of a crab shell, then we examined the liver and kidneys. The fishes liver closely resembles human organs. Then I removed the eye ball and examined the ocular nerve that also closely resembles a humans eye.

After cutting up the fish and removing the organs and fillets Prof. Berman prepared some sevichi and small sushi cutlets. The sevichi was prepared with lime, garlic, parsley, and peppers. These ingredients really made the fish tasty. The second meal was little cutlets of fish that we dipped in soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi. This is the first time I have ever ate striped bass and I was surprised at white texture and great taste. This was truly a treat.

On Thursday we went on a whale watching tour on Stellwagen bank off Cape Cod. We got on the boat around 10:00am and took an 1 hour trip to the bank off Provincetown. When we arrived at the southeast corner of the bank I could already see the spouts from the Minky whale. This was the only one we of that species that we saw, and its a smaller whale by comparison to the Humpback. After cruising around the bank we spotted three Humpbacks together and two of their names were Duckfin and Cajun. These whales are able to be identified by their distinct marking on their tales. The curator told that all the whales on Stellwagen bank have names and are able to be identified by their tales. We saw about 6 more humpbacks around and these whales were actively feeding and their was constant excitement around the boat. While we were heading into Boston we saw a whale breach and flap its pectoral fins in wave pattern. This was a great end of the day.
Thursday July 28th. The tide is high. it is about 9:55 a.m. and we are boarding the Nora Vittoria. We are on our way to Stellwagen Bank which is 842 square miles and is federally protected. It is located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. It is an excellent whale watching site and home to many other species of marine life.

We set out for open waters and were on our way to "whale watch" for part of the day. We sailed past Deer island and a couple of others and continued for what seemed like about an hour. One of the tour guides gave a briefing on whales, the water depth, the way they open their mouths for the fish to enter their mouth for food, and how soon we should begin to see them. She mentioned that some of them have names - I think they were Dunkin, Kagey, and Percit.

Almost suddenly one popped out of the water, went down and while we waited for it to come back up another one appeared on the opposite side. Then three Humpback whales appeared together. It was amazing to see such huge creatures come out of the water and nose back down and to see the white side tails gracefully splashing through after that huge body. The Humpback are found in several water bodies across the planet. They feed on smaller fish and their habitat ranges from polar to tropical waters. The hump back got its name because of the way its back arches out of the water when getting ready to take a deep dive. megaptera is its true scientific name and it means large winged in reference to its long flippers. Its tail has distinct black and white markings which can be used to distinguish one whale from another. Some would come up and by the time I got to my feet to take a picture I would only catch the tail going back down in the water. There was one that looked like a big log just floating in the water. The guide said he was taking a nap. I guess even if we are animals, we do deserve a little down time.

We also saw the Mink Whale which was not too big. They are smaller than the hump back and their diet is a wider variety of fish. Overall, it was a good day with great sightings. As we were leaving to head back to the wharf one "show off" decided to put on a mini show for those who did not get a good enough view, and sure enough he/she was spectacular. It dove in and out as is saying if you did not see any of my family here are some memories to take home. It was awesome. We headed back for what seemed a much longer drive back, since all the anxiety for the day was over. It was my very first whale watching trip, I enjoyed it and i do look forward to another one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

George's Island Adventure

Our third day, Sunday, July 24, 2011 started out rainy but by the time we boarded the boat to our first destination the weather changed and turned over cast for our ride to George's Island. When we reached there we sat and had a discussion on the past two days excursions and what was planned for today. Then we left on our way to Fort Warren. We met a range who was happy to tell us the legend of the 'Lady of the Black Robes" who was the wife of Andrew Lanier a confederate soldier who was accidentally shot by his wife while they was trying to escape from
prison. The legend is that she still roams the Fort searching for her husband. We continued on our way crossing a grassy field were geese were roaming freely. When we reached the fort we walked through different areas as Professor Berman talked about its history. We came to a very scary part of the fort and we all managed to make it out. We then climbed stairs and walked the top of the fort. There we could see the see water and some of the islands. One of which was Lovell's Island our next destination. We all walked back to catch our ferry.

Lovell's Island Seashore Exploration

Once we reached Lovell's Island I noticed that the water was at low tide. It was very rocky and there was different types of shells on it. We found lady slippers, blue mussels, and periwinkle shells. We explored the water and found little green crabs and a injured rock crab that was saved after losing his claw while being attacked by birds. Some of the rocks had barnacles on them but these barnacles were much smaller than the barnacles we saw under the dock. Most of the rocks had light green moss on them. There was brown leaf stuff that was identified as brown kelp. We also saw green sea lettuce. We all had to find alive periwinkles and we were asked to make soft sounds to see if they would emerge from their shells. One did and it had two antennas, two claws, and four legs. On the road back we found snails that were a bright yellow color. These creatures were very different from our dock creatures.

Whale watching

In todays class we met at 9:30am At the Long Warf Hotel. The weather was sunny and it was in the 70’s. At 10:00am we boarded a ship to go whale watching. We traveled by boat for about an hour. We went all the way by Province Town. When we finally reached the province town area we started to spot whales. It was around 11:15 the sun was out and it looked like we were in whale-infested ocean. After about 15 minute of waiting after reaching our destination all we saw was whales. There had to be a total of 20 sightings. Some whales were in groups of three. Others were in pairs and some swam around solo. When the whales did appear they would skim the surface of the ocean and then disappear into the unknown. The type of whale that we saw was called a hump back whale. They were all black with spots of white on certain locations. Some had white of their tails, some on their flippers and there was one that was all black. I learned that whales show their tail right before they go for a deep dive. Another thing I learned is what breaching means. Breaching is when a whale pretty much jumps out of the water and does sort of a back flop kind of thing. The tour guide told us that they where unsure why whales do that but it might be a form of communication. Another thing I noticed is the whale’s blowhole and how it blows water and air threw it. After observing the whales for a good hour or so we then when back to Boston Harbor. It was my first time whale watching and I really enjoyed it.

If the whale population is sustainable should we hunt whales?

I think that we should hunt whales. If a certain species is not endangered then why not do it. As long as the whale Fishermen have a quota that won’t damage the whale population, I don’t see a problem. There are many countries that hunt whale and make a huge profit. An example would be Japan. They say it’s their waters so they can do what they want. I agree with that, as long as there’s still a large population of that species of whale. If America was to start doing this I think that it would be a great export and it would be a way for our country to make a little extra money.

Whale Watching and Wincing

Before setting sail, we had a group picture taken on the dock. Ironically I had a huge smile on my face of genuine excitement. Little did I know, I was in for a day of partially crippling seasickness. I hadn't been on a whale watch since I was a 5 or 6 but I remember having a great time despite some mild seasickness. Motion sickness runs in my family. I believe this is largely psychological as my father became violently ill on "It's a Small World," which is in it's own right, not even a boat ride. To this day he claims he "got" on of the animatronic children... I dont believe it but he stands by this proclamation because after all, who are we without our principals.
We boarded the Aurora and was informed of it's eco friendly water jets that powered the vessel. Boba said that the Boston Whale Watching Catamarans are the cleanest running catamarans in the country. Anway,,, roughly an hour into the excursion after standing on the bow of the boat, I decided to look around the ship I'd be spending the next 3 hours on. When I got to the second level of the boat I peeked into the cabin for a moment and saw that a girl had lost her lunch on the floor. I empathized as I've experienced sea sickness before but as soon as I caught a whiff of the mess she left I instantly remembered being seasick as a child and my brain went to a familiar place. Moments later I too was sitting with my head between my legs on the outside dock with my eyes closed. Luckily people on my level were reacting loudly with excited gasps. Luckily I regained my composure to witness the majestic creatures of the ocean.
I found a strange sort of solace when Boba mentioned that whales often travel in twos. Is it for companionship? protection? In any case, Duncan was nice enough to grace us with his presence for a short while. I don't know how gender neutral the name "Duncan" is. It seems about as gender neutral as "Melissa." It was disheartening knowing that the population of these creatures is dramatically decreasing. I can't wholeheartedly say that I'd be devastated if I found out whales became extinct but at the same token I'd be surprised if we stood by and let this happen. What is killing whales is oil spills and pollution but at this point, can we help either case?
I was surprised to discover that when the whale watchers go out on tours they don't use sonar when trying to find humpback or any kind of whales. They had a hot dog cooker but no sonar. The woman at the snack bar spoke candidly said that today's trip was about a 7 or 8. This was a fair compromise as many whales were seen by all.

On July 27, 2011 around11:30 AM our class met at 808, Common Wealth Ave, in Ever Green Culinary Arts Kitchen, where professor narrated the story of his catch, 10 ft below his boat from a night before. The Stripe Bass was fresh, because when we cut it open the blood was still coming out and the eyes were relatively bright. Let’s talk about the anatomy of the fish now, it seemed to be 30" long and 10" wide, symmetrical, silvery body with dark stripes, it weighed 35lbs and was 5 years old, estimation by looking at the rings on her scale, however it can live up to 30 years. Now a day’s price of Striped Bass per pound is $7.99 which made this catch worth more than $200. It had 8 fins, upon lifting the operculum we saw bright red gill plate which was soft to touch and had 8 total gills. Professor started filleting the fish his knives and we saw the white and pink flesh. Moreover, we also examined all the fish organs which were closed in a sack. First, we cut open its intestines, which is one way to determine fish's eating habits and we found pieces of crab in there. We also saw liver, kidney, air bladder, stomach, vent and spinal cord. One of our brave classmates popped the eye out from the eye socket, so he could find its brain and heart. Though it was one heartless fish (sigh) in the mean time, professor marinated the fish fillet in lemon juice, cilantro, green and red pepper, and ginger. I was amazed by the fact that fish actually cooked itself in the lemon juice acid and this recipe for “Ceviche” turned out to be very juicy, tender and flavorful. He also made “Sashimi” which was plain raw fish with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi paste for dipping, though I did not like that much, but everyone else enjoyed. At the end of the day everyone took a piece home to try their own recipe. I am posting a video of the Striped Bass disection I hope you guys find it informative.

Wednesday July 27/2011

In todays class first thing we did was take a midterm. We had four questions we had to answer. After finishing the midterm we got to relax for a little bit. From there we went over to 808 Com Ave and into the culinary kitchen. Professor Berman took out a 32-inch striped bass out of a cooler. He placed it down on two cutting boards and explained the body parts. I learned that striped bass have eight spines on the top of its body that allows the fish to move swiftly in the water, but also protects the fish from being eaten by predators because those spines get caught in the predator’s throat. I then learned that you could tell how old the fish was by looking at how many rings are on the scales. Striped bass have two pectoral fins on each side of its shoulders. It has two holes on the top of its mouth. The two holes appear to be where the fish take in oxygen through the water. I also learned that they have a total of eight fins. After seeing all of the fish body parts, professor Barman showed us how to fillet a fish. The way to do it is insert a hole by the head of the fish then slide the knife down the spine as close as possible and make sure not to cut the stomach. After we filleted the two sides of the fish the class examined the remainder of the fish while professor Berman got lunch ready for us. There were two different dishes of fish. One had raw black striped bass with garlic, a lot of lemon juice to preserve the fish, and hot peppers. The other dish was just plain raw black striped bass with had dipping sauces on the side. I tried the first dish and I was not a fan of it. I liked the way it was marinated but I didn’t like the texture of raw fish. After everyone finished eating the class was assigned into groups. Each group was assigned to play the role of commercial Fishermen, Recreational fishermen or a mixture of the two. The assignment was to work as a group and try to figure out and agree on a resolution for the dispute of Commercial fishing vs. Recreational fishing and trying to figure out a deal that will be fair for the two parties. Then we would have a debate about it. Overall it was a fun and interesting class and we got to learn about striped bass!

Striped Bass Blog

Upon waking up from a seasick coma, I enjoyed a small yet tasty sample of Striped Bass. As I mentioned before I'm very particular about the way I cook seafood and am careful not to over-season as the fish itself as most of the good flavor is in the flesh itself. I simply thawed the cut and put it in a frying pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, a dash of soy sauce and Mrs. Dash. If you're feeling that there's a spice missing from your shelf and the void is unfillable, treat yourself some Mrs. Dash.
I'm on the commercial side of our debate and this morsel made it even easier to stand by my position to kill as many of these things as safely as possible. As a future fisherman I was delighted to learn that preparing a fish is somewhat simple. After our class midterm, we made our way to 808 Comm Ave where we explored the culinary classrooms. Seeing these classrooms made me wish I took a cooking course in stead the Millenary course I took in the fall of last year. Hats do not taste as good.
As it turns out, all it take to prepare a striped bass is a few ingredients, and more importantly a proper set of gutting knives. I remember being on the cape and watching a bass cutting competition. 3 men had to gut as many fish as they could in 10 minutes. I remember being mortified at 10 years old at what I was seeing so I don't recall the BEST record, but the memory of flying entrails stays with me to this day. If I remember correctly, Bruce said that he caught the fish by placing several bugs on a fishing line to make the fish believe that they were stalking copapods. This seems to make more sense than using the cliched worm which is blatantly outside of the striper's ecosystem.

Whale... whaleS

To date, I have been on four whalewatching trips in Monetery (CA), Sydney, Alaska and Boston. The first two trips were unpleasant: an hour journey to the site, choppy waters, strong winds and bitter cold. I wouldn't complain so much about such dreadful conditions if I had been compensated with clear sightings of the whales. However, I only saw one whale from afar in Monetery, and I saw none in Sydney.

I was in Alaska last month. The whale watching cost me $120 but it was worth it. We took a small boat out that could take only around 30 people (usually whale watching boats are huge). The waters were calm and within 10 mins of sailing, we saw one, no, two whales! They were close to the boat and I was surprised that they were swimming close to the shorelines. My previous two experiences told me that I had to be in the open sea to see the whales, but this was different. When we went to another site, we saw more whales.

Then when Prof Berman said we were going on a whale watching trip, honestly, I didn't expect too much. I selfishly thought never mind if I didn't see one, as I already had the best whale watching experience in Alaska recently. One hour later when we reached the Atlantic ocean, the annoucement came on that we had a Minke whale (a smaller species). Then we started to see some humpback whales. There were two, hey wait, three of them! The guide said that this was a rare sighting as you usually see a pair - the mother and calf. So today it was a family outing for the three whales, I guess. On our way back to Boston Harbor, we were in for another surprise. Two whales were playfully flapping their flippers and then to our amazement, one of them leapt up in the air and whoosh! - it fell back into the water. That was magnificent!

The guide said that the clean water and absence of fishing gear are factors that attract the whales to roam around this area. Clearly, good rules and regulations as well as cooperation from everyone can help protect the whales. The topic of whale hunting was brought up. I personally do not object to it, as long as there's some responsible regulatory body to oversee the whale population to make sure that our hunting activity and eating habits do not wipe them out. I don't know how tasty whale meat is as I haven't got the chance to try it. I will like to actually, out of curiosity. But I doubt whale meat will become staple food like rice and potatoes. As a delicacy, there shouldn't be a drastic decline in the population. Just like sharks fin, caviar and black truffles that each cost a bomb. How often do you eat them?
Wednesday, July 27th. We started the day in the classroom with a short midterm exam. We were asked to discuss the commentary on the Tragedy of the Commons and report our interpretations of it. After our brief classroom lesson Bruce informed the class that he had caught a behemoth of a Striper the night before and we would be continuing class in the Culinary School at BU.

Once Bruce opened the cooler I was immediately taken aback as to the size of the fish. I have caught many Striper's alongside the beaches of Cape Cod during my childhood and adolescence; however, I never recall catching one of that size nor have I payed close enough attention to the external features. The scales were very colorful and slimy. When taken off they had the shape of a guitar pick and were clear with a slight shiny hue. The fish had 2 large eyes and 8 fins. As we dissected and filleted the fish, I realized the delicate intricacies of the Bass. We opened up the belly of the fish to realize that his/her final meal must have been a crab. The striper had a whitish looking tongue rubbery lips. As we proceeded to dissect the fish, we began to puncture its organs as a yellow fluid came out that some identified as stomach bile.

After the dissection Bruce prepared a delicious ceviche in addition to some sashimi with wasabi and ginger. It tasted delicious. However, because I had such a long commute home after class, I was unable to bring the fish home to prepare. I look forward to the whale watch with all of you tomorrow. See you then!

Striped Bass Day 7/27

Today Bruce informed us today would be Stripe Bass Day! Usually the culmination of the course we didn't have to wait! I was struck by the size of the fish also by the entire process in order go get that fish. You fish to get fish to catch another fish...

I have never looked at a fish in so much detail, I learned that scales can tell the age of the bass. The scales felt like very flimsy fingernails. The lips did feel like a toothbrush and I noted that the raspy part was not only on the inner lip and also further into the mouth. It also looked like two tongues when looking into the mouth. The lips were very strong and yet the parts holding on to it were soft and rubbery.

I thought the colors were very spectacular, green with a hint of brown and a beautiful pattern running along the body. It had a white belly and 8 dark fins. There were remnants of a crab in his belly and not much else. I could observe bile once the belly was cut open and I noticed a part that looked like the liver and then a dark brown rusty almost black looking part that could possibly be the spleen. We also cut into the air pocket and it deflated like a balloon it was very interesting to see. The smell was pretty awful once we started to cut in. The eyeball came out in one piece and I realized a fishes eye isn't actually the flat disc I always thought it was.

Tasting the fish was much better than dissecting it. The ceviche was yum but the best was the raw fish with soy sauce. It was a clean flavorful bite without any of the fishy taste. It wasn't too rubbery and the texture was actually pretty good. As I took home the fish I knew I had to bring it to work with me. I stopped somewhere for an hour before going into work and so I couldn't wait to get my fish into the refrigerator. That's where it stayed until very late because I had to go out to do some service work at a treatment center so I didn't get back to my fish for awhile. Once I did I was a little nervous to eat it again because it had been out for awhile before getting to the fridge. I then decided to prepare it at home and I found two very sharp bones in it. Sharper than any fish bone I have ever encountered I'm glad I checked it because I then cut it up and fed it to my dog who enjoyed it very very much. It was still easy to work with and the color had changed only because the blood had covered the piece but after washing it it cleared off again.
Wednesday July 27th. Today's lesson is one that will be long remembered. We are in the kitchen at 808 Commonwealth Ave, Professor Berman has a bright eyed, fresh from the sea, 35 inches long Striped bass and we are all gathered around the table, ready to examine, filet and of course sample that beautiful Bass.

The Stripped Bass is a symmetrical fish which has a total of 8 fins. Those on its back are very sharp (kind of thorn like) and one has to be careful not to get stuck. The scales are kind of large and you can tell the age of the fish by looking at the number of rings on the scales. Like every other fish it breathes through its gills, it has a mouth with teeth but prefers to swallow its food. It swims near the shore and when it is in abundance is an easy catch.

The Professor began to filet the fish by first skillfully removing some scales around the tail side in order to gain easy access to the flesh of the fish. He then held the knife close to the spine which runs along the top of the fish and began making his way down through the flesh. The cut has to be behind the pectoral fin which is near the gills. He was careful not to puncture the bowel sack, because if he did the fish would be contaminated from the fluids from the spleen.

We examined the fishs' stomach which is neatly enclosed in a sac. There was a crab leg which indicates that is what he ate before his durmise. We took a look at his intestines, liver, spleen and air bladder.

The Professor is now at another table preparing the cerviche dish. With some assistance from a few students, he washed some of the fish, chopped it in small pieces and placed it in a dish. About four limes were squeezed into that dish, cilantro and pepper were chopped and placed in there with some garlic, turned around a few times and it was ready for eating. He also had some more chopped on a plate and these could be eaten by dipping it in some soy sauce, and wasabi and ginger paste. Uh Uh! Yummy!
The balance left over was cut and some of us who wanted took it home. I seasoned it up with some garlic, celery, onions and a dash of seasoning salt, placed it on the small grill, and it was good eating. Thanks professor!

Day 4: Striped Bass Anatomy Lesson

Today's fish experiment was really fun and interesting. Professor Berman brought in a striped bass he had caught the night before and he filleted it, with a little bit of help from Clinton. We learned that a striped bass has 2 dorsal fins, 2 pectoral fins, 1 stern fin, 2 lower fins, and one tail making 8 fins total. Professor scraped off a few of the fish scales in order to soften the fish and make it easier to make an initial cut. He held up a scale and told us that each scale has rings and similar to how rings on a tree tell of it's age, so do the rings on a fish's scales. However the scale of year to ring is not the same. Professor estimated that our fish was about 5 years old. I also believe he later mentioned it was a female and that had he been able to tell much earlier then he may not have kept her, but I would rather someone double check that observation of mine.

I learned a great deal of information about fish today, including what the inside of one looks like, where the organ sack is, as well as to make sure you do not open the sack while cutting out the meat you wish to eat, because there are toxins in the fish's stomach. I also got to feel the inside of the fish's mouth and was surprised at how parts of the tongue were quite hard and actually had the same "teeth" that were on the edges of the mouth. Speaking of which the bass teeth are more like really scratchy velcro or a nail file almost. You can tell by the inside of the mouth that the fish's tactic for eating is to swallow the organism whole rather than chew them up. I also learned how to tell a fish is fresh, if the eyes are very white and clear then that is a good sign the fish is fresh, also if you are looking at the meat you want the fat portion of the meat, the red part, to be red not brown--which it turns over time. Also, if you take a fish out of the water and it has algae on it's side then put it back, that is a sign the water is not clean. You always fish out of clean water says Professor Berman.

After having filleted our fish Professor Berman cut it up and prepared two different fish meals, one is ceviche, with cilantro and lots of lime juice, while the other was striped bass sushi! I prefer the ceviche ;) But I'm not much of a raw-fish-eater either. I did however try the sushi and it was very good, you could tell the fish was fresh and it didn't have that "fishy" taste--thank God! The ceviche was really good too though, it was spicy, actually that's a bit of an under statement, it had a big kick. It may have been better if we had something else to balance it out--pallet wise-- but none the less it was delectable. My favorite part was seeing how just the acid in the lime had cooked the outside of the fish. It was so cool! I had no idea lime & lemon juice did that to meat so I was really impressed.

Professor Berman cut the fillet into pieces and (almost) everyone took one to take home to prepare for themselves tonight. I hope everyone's came out well! I must say this was one of my favorite classes... it was just really cool, it caught the attention of everyone. It was fun to see the whole class, which clearly has a large range of students age-wise, all become 5 year olds in a matter of minutes, wanting to touch the fish, ask questions, see if we can find the brain, take the eye out, see what's in the stomach, or feel the lips and teeth. It was a lot of fun. :)

Fish time! I say this separately, because I had to wait until after my family and I finished our regularly scheduled dinner in order to do this serving. It was worth the wait though!

Below is a picture of the ingredients I used to prepare the fish, the striped bass itself literally still in the plastic baggy from class, lime, a Limon Pepper rub that can be used on close to all meats including fish, and finally the Fire & Flavor cedar paper.

Preparation time! So here we have three main steps. (Although one I missed the first time around and had to go back and do so technically there are four, but I have only depicted three).
First Step: Cut a piece of lime, tenderize the fish meat with a fork--so the juice & rub soak into the fish--and squeeze the lime over both side of the fish.
Second Step: Smooth the Limon Pepper rub over both sides of the fish. How heavy you apply your rub depends on the cook! My mother was helping me out with this part and she has a heavy hand when it comes to spices so we covered the whole fish! Looking back now, I would have put a bit less on... the Limon Pepper rub has a smaaaall "kick" to it!
Fake Third Step: You soak the cedar wrap in paper for 10 min. this was my first time using the wrap, and neither myself or my father knew you were supposed to soak the wrap, so we missed that step the first time around, but it was simply to fix we just rinsed off the wrap and let it sit.
Third Step: Place the fish in the cedar wrap, wrap it up, and tie it with string to hold it together on the stove. What I found was the easiest strategy here was to place the fish at one end of the wrap and roll it to the other side. I did not depict that strategy below, but that is what I did.

*notice how the fish in the picture on the right is more white than the fish in the center. (I know it's hard to see, sorry) When I had to let the wrap soak and let the fish sit with the lime juice and limon pepper rub already on it the lime juice started to cook the fish just like it did in class! :)

At this point I put the wrap on the pan and let it cook! The wrap is soaked in water for 10 min. before the fish is put in it, so it started to smoke nicely and cook the bass inside, keeping it nice a moist. The cedar wrap seems to steam the fish. When the wrap started to burn a bit on the edges I flipped it and did the other side and when the same burning appeared--and the fish inside started to look like I saw a bit of browning--I took it out. It was perfect timing somehow the fish was not burnt at all (as you will see below).

Here I first opened the cedar wrap to expose our fish, looks pretty good right? It smelt pretty good too!

After letting it sit for a minute I went to open the fish up a but and literally the pieces were so moist and tender, but fluffy from the steaming/smoking that they just fell apart when I touched them with the knife.

The fish was delicious. I unfortunately did put on too much of the Limon Pepper rub, so it definitely had a "kick" to it, but if I just scraped it off the top so I wasn't getting the pepper right away, then it was great. I really liked this meal, it was my first time using the cedar wraps and the rub, and I will definitely be doing this again.

Thanks for the great fish Professor!

Striped Bass from Whole To Pieces

Today is our fourth day and we had the experience of watching Proessor Berman teach us how to filet a striped bass that he caught the night before in the Marina. First, we learned the names of the external parts of the fish: fins, gills, mouth, eye, nostrils, and anal vent. While Professor Berman explained each part we touched and observed the fish. Second, he showed us were to start the cut but before you cut you should remove some of the scales because they are had to cut through. He then showed us how to keep the knife close to the spine that runs along the top of the fish and cut from behind the pectoral fin to just before the tail fin. One important detail was not to puncture the bowel sack to keep from contaminating the fish. The bass's intestines and stomach was enclosed in a sack which the Professor opened and we found a crab claw. And lastly, he filleted the meat that he removed from both sides of the bass.

While Professor Berman prepared several dishes from the fish meat on the table adjacent to us we got the opportunity to examine the fish's inners (intestines, stomach and liver) and head.
We didn't find the heart or brain but we tried. The head was very hard and we couldn't get to the location that we thought it might be. After completing our examination of the fish we move over to the other table to taste the prepared foods. One dish was cured (cooked) in lime juice and the other dish was raw and eaten with wasabi and ginger paste and dipped in soy sauce.

I found the day to be very educational and enjoyable!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kathy Geoghegan-Barek

Anatomy of a Striped Bass

The Fish

Female Striped Bass

Approximately 35 pounds

Caught in Charlestown Marina

< 24 hours post mortem


The class examined the exterior of the fish. The animal had 8 fins totals. On the top of the fish were two dorsal fins, one of which had a sharp edge. Near the gills were the 2 pectoral fins, one on each side of the animal. The fins we didn’t identify in class are called the pelvic fins. There were 2 of these located on the bottom of the animal in the front. There was also the anal fin and the tail.

We examined some scales that had been removed. They were transparent with marking on them that reveals the age of the fish. We examined the mouth of the fish; the teeth were soft. We were told that the fish crushes his food more than chews it and that we could expect the contents of the stomach to contain somewhat whole pieces of food.

Then we cut the fish open. The fillets are made of muscle tissue. The organs were enclosed in a sac. We were able to indentify the stomach, intestines, spleen, and liver within the sac. The stomach was cut open and revealed that the fish had recently eaten a crab. When the air bladder was broken one member of the class comment they could actually feel the air come out. When the eye was removed from the socket we saw that it was fairly large and round. Some of us tried to find the heart, but we weren’t able to. I found a diagram on the web that shows where a fish heart should be

A Cut Up In The Kitchen

The class headed over to the the kitchen at 808 Commonwealth Avenue around 11:30am to see a striped bass filleted by Professor Bruce Berman. This was a very exciting because I have not seen a fish cut up in front of me from head to tail. I have seen it done on television, but seeing how it is really done in front of you gives a new meaning to cutting a fish. He discussed and showed us some of the Striped Bass's attributes. The basses gill's were red which was very surprising to me. They looked like sushi tuna that you see in a Japanese Restaurant. The Striped Bass had eight fins attached to its body in which one of the fins on top of his back had very sharp spikes. I felt his teeth and they felt like soft tooth brushes. The stripe bass had to holes on either side of the head which one of the students mentioned that these were his sensors. the scales were slippery and the looked iridescent. Professor Berman told us that you can tell how old a fish is by the number of rings on his scales. Prof Berman started to fillet the sides of the fish. This is a very hard task if you do not have the right kitchen knives to do the work. Taking off both sides smoothly, he removed the meat from the skin and placed both pieces on a cutting board. The fishes stomach and intestines where embedded in a sac.

We then headed to the another table where Professor Berman cut the fish in bite sizes pieces for everyone to eat. I did not eat the raw fish, but I was given some to take home to cook. I did so with some garlic table sesasonings, oinions, and olive and the results were delicious. This actually was the first time I ate bass freshly caught from the both of the sea.

Something's fishy

I never knew a striped bass can grow to be so huge and delicious (yum yum!). We were at the food laboratory at BU this morning to see how Prof Berman cut up his catch. Of course, we were still having a class, so we were supposed to examine the outer and inner parts of the striped bass that Prof Berman caught from Charles Rivers, the brackish water.

The blood was oozing out when Prof Berman got into its flesh to cut out the fillet. It showed how fresh the fish was. We also had the chance to touch and feel the sharp teeth, tongue, eyeball, gill cover (4 gills were counted), liver and all other parts that most people wouldn't have the chance to do so if you were not a fisherman. From its intestines, some remnants of yesterday's meal were observed: crab and squid. While some of the students were busy 'torturing' the fish, the other side of the table saw Prof Berman and other students helping to prepare a delectable fare of sashimi. Being an Asian, eating sushimi is nothing special to me, but this was the first time that I witnessed myself the entire process from cutting to serving. It simply added on to the sensation that I was eating fresh fish literally.

Now I am smelling something fishy from this session... we have to get ourselves involved in the longtime tension between commercial and recreational fishing this Friday.

Day 4 - Striped Bass Expirement.

The Striped Bass is a magnificent fish, inside and out, not to mention tasty! One of the many reasons why it is important for everyone to come to an understanding in maintaining a positive sustainable population of this wonderful fish, regardless of which side of the fence you're on, otherwise, there may not be many left?

Today's class we observed professor Berman dissect, explain and fillet a pretty decent sized Striped Bass.

We learned how professor Berman caught his Striped Bass, what they eat and a little bit about their habitat.

We learned how to tell the age of a Striped Bass, by looking closely at the rings on its scale and observed the anatomy of the Striped Bass as it was being dissected.

More importantly we learned how to prepare and eat one!

Professor Berman was generous enough to provide us with some take home, "raw stuff" and have as prepare it and share it on this blog. I kept it very simple and it came out great! Here's what I did:

First seasoned it with some Portuguese Olive oil, (Victor Guedes brand) then added a bit of salt, black pepper. Heated up some extra virgin oil on a frying pan seen. Cooked it on high for a few minutes. Next, I served with some lettuce, 2 tomatoe slices and a thin slice of red onion, with some Balsamic Vinegar (Rozzano of Modena brand) on the side (very yummy) and some wasabi coated peas (not bad also!). Have to say it, it was pretty good. Thanks!


On Saturday morning we met at Long Wharf in the morning to start our journey to The Barking Crab. We observed many things such as the algae, rockweed, and barnicles growing on the rocks and barge of the Harbor. It was cloudy and did rain but it was short lived and on we went toward our destination. We crossed a 103 year old bridge and settled on the dock below the restaurant.

We found star tunicate, blue mussels, rock shrimp, skeleton shrimp, a gross worm, tiny crabs all massed together to form a living clump . It was a mix of native, non native species and fouling species such as the star tunicate. The water here is brackish meaning a mix of salt and fresh water. The salinity and the relative lack of water movement change what one sees. I did not see rock weed here. Over all the feeling ofaccomplishment that came with making this foray into the sea life under the Barking Crab was very worthwhile, even on a very hot day in a totally unfamiliar environment.
From Snails to Whales
Today we focused on Habitats. At 8:40 a.m. (July 23) it was low tide and we observed the intertidal zone and what type or organisms survive in it. The intertidal zone also known as the foreshore and the seashore, is the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide. This area can include different types of habitats, with many types of animals. We noticed that was a lot of green fleece algae growing on the rocks. They grow in clumps and is usually found in rocky waters tide pools, rocky shores, or attached to rocks. We also saw some seaweed that was of a brownish color, and on the rocks were white specks called northern rock barnacles. Barnacles are really crustaceans, yes, crustaceans, that remain fixed in one spot for life when they become adults, and they attach their selves to hard surfaces such as rocks or pier pilings.

These type of organisms live in the intertidal zone because they are small and uncomplicated. The supply of water they require to survive recurs at intervals and wave action around the shore will wash away or dislodge those poorly adapted or suited organisms. There were also some mussels in the intertidal zone at the dockyard.

Under the docks at the barking Crab we found like a bed of blue mussels that had a lot of growing plants and animals. The blue mussel is kind of smooth shelled with beaks and upon researching the guide book I found out they have teeth. The outside is bluish black and the inside is violet. We also saw unattached sea lettuce, rock weed, kelp, summer corn and ribbon weed. Upon breaking a small portion of the mussel bed we noticed that different species of shrimp were attached ,including the sharp-tailed cumaceans, caprelids, and long horned skeleton shrimp. We also found sea anemones that were kind of soft, and retracted their tenacles when they were touched. There was the frilled anemone which was disk lobed with fine tenacles, ghost anemones, striped anemones, and lined anemones. Swimming in the water were also small herrings and blackfish and we came across a star fish and a club tunicate also.

One interesting thing was noticed and it looked like some sort of man made reef that was very bright colored with orange pipe like objects sticking out maybe to attract organisms to cling to it and encourage some sort of life. It was held together by some kind of pipe at the top, It was interesting to see how many different species can cling together and live in the same habitat.

I have revisited Blackboard and now know the the orange like object is called an orange or red sheath tunicate. It has two holes where one sucks water in and the other spits it out.

This is the correction for my blog. I was having the hardest time editing. I had lost the document.