Triton Day: Welcoming Prospective Students with Charismatic Critters!

Kathryn Furby and Maggie Johnson with some of the sea critters in the touch tank.

I had the pleasure spending my Saturday as an ambassador of SIO’s marine biology program to the UCSD and San Diego community this past weekend at UCSD’s annual Triton Day.  The Triton Day experience is an open house that is intended to bring prospective UCSD students and the community together in a fun-filled day of entertainment and education.  The campus was peppered with excited prospective students, families, and curious community members, and library walk was lined with booths representing a variety of departments and programs across all disciplines at UCSD.

Maggie Johnson talks to prospective UCSD students about local sea critters in the touch tank.

I was happily accompanied by fellow first-year marine biology student Kathryn Furby of the Sandin lab, and a posse of charismatic sea creatures local to San Diego.  With crowds of people itching to catch a glimpse of our critters, I definitely would not have been able to do it alone!  We brought our glass touch tank up the hill from SIO to UCSD’s main campus, and let the critters speak for themselves.  I was thrilled to find so many people from the community interested in our local sea creatures which included sea stars, purple sea urchins, a wily hermit crab, and an extra squishy sea cumber.  The rock star of the show was our Spanish shawl nudibranch, Flabellina iodinea.  Second to seaweeds of course, the Spanish shawl is one of my favorite sea critters.  Many of our visitors thought that this critter hailed from the tropics because of its vibrant purple body and neon orange cerata.  They were surprised to learn that the Spanish shawl nudibranch is in fact local to San Diego.

The Spanish shawl nudbranch, Flabellina iodinea, was the highlight of travelling touch tank. Photo credit:

I spent the day talking with prospective students about the incredible opportunities afforded by Scripps.  It was not only a beautiful sunny day spent with our charismatic critters, but it was also incredibly rewarding to spread my love for marine biology to the greater community.  Talking with aspiring young marine scientists and tidepool lovers alike I was reminded just how lucky I am to be able to experience the joys of the ocean every day!