Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lovell's Island

When we showed up and walked down the path to the beach, I thought it would be way too dry to find any snails without digging in Rock Piles or something similarly dramatic. In actuality I was surprised how all the buildings which had been inhabited less than a century ago were beyond complete ruins and were more like a faded footprint. Farther up the beach where the tide was mostly out leaving a rocky tidal flat, we discovered a large number of Asian Crab (an invasive species) and I saw very few of their remains on the beach (less than 5 pieces). Up by the high tide mark I did see the remains of a different, larger crab (which could have been an Atlantic Rock Crab - I did not check on the spot but it may have been). It seemed as though the Asian crab is taking over the beach from the other species as I saw more than 20 backs from the larger crab strewn about.
The mussel shell field was very strange and really weirded me out. It seemed like it was set up by the rangers of the island to fool us or that it was a man made dumping ground from a restaurant or other commercial operation.
The tide pool was very interesting and there were tons of periwinkles. I expected to see a greater variety of fauna - maybe some small fish or hermit crabs, possibly even more Asian crabs but I did not see any (somebody else was lucky enough to snap a picture of one)
While I was swimming I noticed two periwinkles that were going at a Marion Jones pace and I did not expect them to become so much more active in the cooling water (the tide was quickly coming in). When I grabbed them and flipped them over they were hermit crabs and gave me a pinch before retreating into their stolen periwinkle garb.
The team snail hunt was difficult, I looked on Sumac trees but I did not find any. I had better luck looking along the ground for empty shells which had been passed over. I really enjoyed observing the grove snails because they came out of their shells and seemed to have a personality. Their eye stalks made them look curious, despite how absolutely ridiculous that sounds from a scientific standpoint.

1 comment:

crondash said...
This is a very interesting article about how the asian crab we saw at lovell's island is changing the dynamic of new england shell fishing. The fact that mussels have shown signs of adaptation in as little as 10-15 years seems amazing, almost like a micro-evolution example which may yet sway the alien abduction fans.