Sunday, August 3, 2008

Barking Crab Dock Observations

Caitlin Klinger
Observations for Saturday, August 2, 2008
Location: Docks behind the Barking Crab restaurant
Weather: high 70s and mostly sunny at time of observation

Method: This was not originally a deliberate plan, but I began observation with the naked eye by lying on one of the smallest docks and looking into the water directly off the dock (see photo 1). This area is likely to receive very little light, as it was directly shaded by the bridge at the time of observation. I would later move to an area that was exposed to light at the time of observation to see if there were different specimens in the different locations. Although I began by simply taking pictures of the area I was observing, I would later extract small sections by hand for further observation.

Tools: pen, notebook, digital camera, gloved hand, magnifying glass, "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Sea Shore Creatures". Most of the time I focused on recording each specimen's appearance in the most accurate way possible, and then followed with determining its tactile properties (is it firm? soft? gelatinous? etc). Afterward, I would attempt to locate it in the field guide if I had time before moving on to the next specimen.

Photo 1: This is what I saw when I first leaned over the shaded dock at the Barking Crab. As others have concluded, I believe the shot is dominated by a number of Frilled Anemones. Although I came to this conclusion rapidly, I began to have doubts when I noticed the given size range in my guidebook for the Frilled Anemone is 18" high by 9" wide. However, in the end I concluded that these specimens, although smaller (perhaps because they are younger and close to the surface) are indeed the same anemone. There are also at least six Blue Mussels and a bit of the infamous "Orange Stuff", which I will discuss later.

Photo 2: This is a sample of Rock Weed taken from that same shady dock.

Photo 3: Another sample of Rock Weed, but this time from the dock with more sun exposure. If you click on the picture it gets really enlarged and you can clearly see that the "Orange Stuff" is actually clear with many smaller orange circles inside. According to the "Hitchhikers Guide", this appears to be Orange Sheath Tunicate. However, there are so many color variations occurring on this one sample (yellow, varying oranges, reddish) that I wonder if there might be some Red Sheath Tunicate here as well. Once this piece of Rock Weed had been exposed to the air for more than a second or two, a number of "bug like creatures", as others have been describing them, began to send the Rock Weed into a flurry of activity. These creatures were varying in size, but no bigger than approximately four mm. They were striped, and almost shrimp-like in silhouette, but I have yet to determinate what they were, as all of the amphipods were much larger than these and did not have the correct striping pattern.

Photo 4: This is another sample of Orange Sheath Tunicate, which we further investigated by hand. It turned out that although appearing gelatinous, it is quite resilient and will withstand a lot of poking without breaking. Although this picture is turned, the other specimen is the "orange coral" to which Helen was referring. I still cannot figure out what it is, as the only orange coral in this area looks nothing like it. If you enlarge the picture, you might be able to see what looks like a tiny curly stick coming off of the coral. This was, I believe, a Skeleton Shrimp (according to the Complete Seaside Guide). When it was still alive, it resembled a moving stick.

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