Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day One Observations

On my journey to figure out what the hell "this" is, I made the following observations. But first, a little background information:

We began the observations at 9:20 am in front of the Long wharf Marriot Hotel. This was a perfect opportunity to see the intertidal zone, as High Tide was not due for another four hours. The first location, a stone wall close to hotel itself, was a good place to begin.

Location 1-Long wharf Marriot harbor wall.
The intertidal zone was observed as a large dark band across the wall where water clearly hit at High Tide. The water clarity was slightly turbid, but also surprisingly clear.
There were a couple of species of local plant life.
The first observed was a bright green "moss" that covered the wall just above the intertidal zone. It seemed to just be out of harms way. The same moss seemed to also appear directly on the intertidal area, but was much less dense. Dark brown stranded plant life (seaweed) with swim bladders also grew prevalently in the intertidal zone. I noted this species also grew on submerged rocks. Local observance of animal life included barnacles scattered across the wall on the intertidal zone, small silver fish in the water were observed darting back and fourth quickly. My guess is they were eating. Empty mussel and clam shells littered the rocky sea bed under the wall. Unfortunately, we could not get a closer look to make more detailed observations.

Location 2-30 seconds down Harbor Walk from Marriot.
Very large cobble rocks were observed hanging out in the sun with a many a green moss growing happily over them. The moss seemed to be the same that grew above and on the intertidal zone. It is interesting to note that the denser populations of moss were observed in drier areas. Although there was moss in the intertidal zone, there as much less of it. (Salt water = ewww?) A different species of sea plant also noted looked like a slimy brown fruit roll up. Our professor begrudgingly gave this fact away- It was sea kelp. Local wildlife consisted of pigeons and female (?) mallard ducks. (I thought the floating duck house was cute). Again, we could not get close enough to the ducks to determine sex, but their coloring indicated female.

Location 3-another 30 seconds down harbor walk in front of the really bad art.
More seaweed! One species was observed before and identified as sea kelp, and the other had a similar constituency and coloring to lettuce. Interesting to note the location of growth. The green and brown sea kelp seemed to be engaged in a battle to the death for sunlight. The green seaweed was happily photosynthesizing in the east facing direction (east=more direct sunlight), while the brown sea kelp in the north was desperate for sunlight.

Location 4- 30 seconds more down harbor walk in front of the condos I can't afford to live in.
Observation of a dock yielded empty mussel shells and crab carnage. The work of a predatory bird, or a really hungry person? My money is on the bird. Orange growth that was not rust also observed growing on floating wooden planks.

Location 5-30 more seconds and a more open ocean.
This location was unique because the area was not confined, and the water had more freedom to explore. We observed waves and overall water movement. More orange growth and also more diversely colored underwater flora was noted. Of course there was more green lettuce (open area=more sunlight), and also observed was floating red algae.

Location 6-The Barking Crab Docks.
We reached the dock around 10:45ish and began exploring. My partner Anne and I chose a shaded area under a bridge to do our examining. Around 2 hours to high tide and the water was murky. My guess was brackish with fresh water coming in from the NEOPONSETT river. Dockside revealed the larges wildlife variety. The most prevalent species noted were mussel colonies. All sizes indicated a large range of "ages". Some shells pulled from the docks revealed empty. Interestingly enough the empty shells still teamed with life. (Life will prevail) One shell in particular had a colony of sea anemones growing inside and out. There was also a light orange gelatinous mass on one side where another student told me this is where it was attached to the dock. Another cool thing was all the little "critters" crawling around. These critters appeared to be a variety of small shrimp. The most interesting of the "critters" was a small shrimp no larger than a quarter inch in length that exhibited praying mantis type features. The legs were sectioned and there was a large "antennae" appendage at one of its ends. The outside of the sell revealed something that looked like a very small sea star. I could not get a close enough look to make an accurate determination. The star of our quest in what the hell is that stumped everybody. An orange jelly like "thing". To me, it looked like a micro colony of many orange smaller things all suspended in a gelatinous blob. I was stumped. Some guesses from fellow students included baby sea squirts and a coral type organism. It looked like an orange blob to me. Something interesting to note was the presence or another green, branched, seaweed with swim bladders. This type is called Rockweed, and it is a good environmental indicator of a healthy harbor ecosystem according to the professor.

*Educated guesses on what the hell this is and crappy drawings to follow.*
Hope you enjoyed.


Jackie said...

I think the small "starfish" looking object attached to the mussel shell I was observing could actually be a Star Tunicate. I drew a picture of it on Saturday, but I don't have a scanner or digital camera to post it.

Jackie said...

I also think that the anemones we observed are not in fact frilled anemones, but instead are purple anemones.