Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jordy's Notes and Observations

Good evening, everyone-

Earlier today we set out to examine the sea life present growing on the docks nearby the Barking Crab. Our goal was to determine whether there is greater biodiversity in Boston's urban inner harbor, or among the, now protected and clean, bay islands.

At the time of our exploration ( 11:00-ish), the tide was rising, temperatures were warm(probably in the seventies), and the sky was relatively clear in spite of the impending storm that was to strike later in the afternoon.

Contrary to what would appear the logical thing to do on a lovely Saturday morning, I began my study in the dark shadow of the North Av. bridge. Amidst the cries of "oh look at this!" and "what the heck was that??" emanating from the sunnier sections of dock, I examined what, at first, appeared to be a minimal sample pool which included:

1) Long dark green tendril-like growths which I assumed to be a sort of seaweed. It appeared to grow in a large mossy chunk rather than have small lettuce-like branches. Here is an amazingly accurate and detailed picture (I'm working on a digital camera. for now you'll have to bear with me as I attempt to draw what is saved on my cell phone ):

2)Squishy gray-blue oval-shaped growths that at first glance looked like baby mussels. After pulling one out of the water and poking it a bunch, however, I came to the conclusion that it was far too squishy to be a mussel! Often times these growths had a flappy butterfly-wing shaped piece that wiggled wildly in the water. For some reason I cannot add more pictures, but I will try to edit one in after I finish. Aha, there we go. I got it!

3) Around the mussel-shaped-but-not-mussels grew strange lettuce-leaf-shaped mossy plants. Oddly enough, at the center of one of these I found a brown, hard seed-shaped thing. I have no idea what it might be. These moss-lettuce growths had a lot of clear goop of about the consistency of mucus that I suspect bound the plant to the dock.

I saw some other strange things, but these three are the only ones I could really get a good look at. Unfortunately, none of them could be found in my guide book (National Audubon Society's Field Guide to Seashore Creatures). Item number (1) sort of resembles a double-fork plexarella in *shape*, however as we are regrettably not in the Gulf of Mexico, its presence seems rather unlikely. I was similarly unable to find anything in our online resources. Thank goodness I did not stop gathering information there!

After staring at and poking my three specimens for the better part of an hour, I decided to travel back down the dock to an area that was only partially shaded(I was not willing to completely surrender my dark position!) to see what all thee hubbub was about. The difference was astounding. The sea life present at this new location just a few yards away was far more abundant, completely coating the side of the dock-floater, and far more colorful. Although I regrettably did not have as much time to spend in this new locale, I was better able to guess at possible identities of the things growing there (it seems that both the class AND the guidebooks are biased against the critically important and very exciting dark-under-bridge niche!).
In this new area, I found:
1) Many small (less than 1/2 inch across in each individual lump, but growing together in a larger colony) lump-shaped growths adorned with a circular brown and white pattern that seemed to grow around other plants. I tentatively identified these to be Golden Star Turnicate while waiting for my ride after class. Located between the Bay of Fundy and N. Carolina, the species certainly falls within the correct range. Additionally, my guidebook mentioned that it can be found on pilings and the bases of seaweeds, which seemed to match perfectly with where I had found them. I was encouraged to see the "Star Turnicate" mentioned in the hitchhiker's guide as well. I'm not certain if there is a difference between normal "star" and "golden star," but I will assume they are at least part of the same family (as their pictures would indicate!), and that I was looking at one of the two.
2) Orange lumpy growths of several varieties: some larger and oval-shaped, and others chunky and more spread out. Looking through my guidebook, I'd say that visually many of the smaller ones most closely resembled Taylor's Colonial Turnicate, however this variety is listed as only appearing on the west coast. I thought some of the larger more circular ones looked like Sea Peaches, but the Sea Peach is 5" across, which is far larger than what I was looking at. Mushroom Turnicate, which grows as a colony of smaller individuals in varying depths of water and in varying conditions also seemed like a fair guess...or it would be if we were a couple hundred miles south. All that seemed to remain was the Orange Sheath Turnicate which, although the picture did not look quite like what I was looking at, is orange and lumpy, and could grow in Boston Harbor on docks of the nature we examined. So I will tentatively call this one Orange Sheath Turnicate.
3) Blue Mussels seem like the most reasonable candidates.
Having split my time between two sites and only hopping over to the new one near the end, I did not have enough time to write down good enough information to ID the rest of the new creatures(and my pictures turned out badly :( ), but I will attempt to draw from memory some other things I saw.

Thanks so much for reading-- Have a nice evening :)

Alright, this is basically a picture of what I was looking at at my first site, since I spent more time there. Again, this is MSpaint forgive scribbliness. In the next few days, I hope to "steal" my brother's digital camera. We'll see. G'night all.

1 comment:

Boston's BayWatcher said...

extra-ordinary observations!
Nice job