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Marine Biologists Put Undersea Wonders On Display For Cal Day

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- Scientists at Cal are preparing to welcome prospective students to the campus open house on Saturday with open arms. Eight of them.

This year, an octopus ambassador that will be one of the attractions at the event to greet budding marine biologists.

"This little creature was just right there in front of my mask," said UC Berkeley research assistant Gabrielle Keeler-May. "It's translucent and I don't think I could've seen it if it was that far away. But it was so close to my face and I was like, 'Wow!'"

It's a special snapshot of the sea.

Dozens of incredible sea creatures from the Monterey Kelp Forest have been brought to Cal. Researchers at UC Berkeley did several scuba dives there, using a special scientific permit to collect more than 100 marine life specimens.

Normally these creatures could only be seen up close deep in the sea.

"I love being underwater. I would rather be underwater than on land," said UC Berkeley Marine Ecologist Dr. Tim Herrlinger. "And being able to share that with someone who's never gone snorkeling or scuba diving -- the colors, the animals are just so exciting!"

On one of their latest dives, the researchers found something they had never seen before: an octopus with 2,000 eggs that will hatch in the next two to three weeks.

"And I took my knife and I pried open the shell just a little bit -- like this -- just to have it open," said Herrlinger. "And I saw the suckers and an arm and I knew right away"

"You can't talk underwater, but how excited you are!" remembered Keeler-May. "There are bubbles everywhere and we were like, 'Yeah!'"

These sea creatures will be on display for everyone to see at Cal Day, UC Berkeley's annual Open House. Researchers say they love sharing their passion for marine life with young kids.

"We have kids that come year after year and I actually see them growing up," said Herrlinger. "And we have some of the individuals that are from previous years are now in my invertebrate zoology class this semester."

You can get up close and personal with some of these amazing sea creatures Saturday at Cal Day on the UC Berkeley campus. They will have a special touch tank in the courtyard the valley life sciences building.

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