Sunday, August 3, 2008

Saturday @ the Long Warf

Today we observed the diverse sea life that exists on the docks of Boston harbor. Our first observations were on the Long Warf Marriot Hotel dock wall. We looked at the green “moss” that covered the wall above the intertidal zone and the seaweed that was growing on the rocks in the intertidal zone. The seaweed had bladders that help it float on top of the water. Later I found out that that was Rock weed and that its presence is actually a good thing. Since rock weed does not do too well with too much human waste (phosphorous, nutrients etc) its presence is an indicator of a healthy environment. Looking in the water I saw many little fishes swimming back and forth really quickly, they appeared to be feeding. We also saw a lot of evidence of human use. All of the observations were made from approximately 20 feet.
We proceeded to ponder on the question of where is there more biodiversity in the natural environment or on man made structures with lots of human interference. We split into two groups based on our opinion. I joined the group that thought that there would be more sea life presence where there’s more human presence thinking that all human use = more nutrients, bacteria and all that other stuff for the life to prosper. However, now I am beginning to wonder if all those nutrients and foreign bacteria (i.e. human waste) would kill some organisms and prevent only but a few of them to survive … I will need to do some more observing before I can answer that one.
We proceeded along the long ward waterfront and observed another wall that was covered in seaweed. However this time the seaweed was different (in color and appearance). I noticed that the water was much more turbulent here and was not as quiet in the protected area as at the first location (Marriott hotel). Lack of sunlight, constantly being underwater and turbulent water gave way to a different kind of seaweed (green leafy as oppose to red and floating around).
When we got to the barking crab docks I got down on the dock and took a look at what is going on below it. At first I just observed the mussels (blue mussels), seaweed and all of the other masses some that appeared to be porous, some looked more jellylike. I drew a picture and then reached down for my first sample. I first pulled up a single mussel and proceeded to visually inspect it. It was dark in color and was covered in some sort of grey stuff (that was hard). What amazed me the most was the abundance of living organisms that I saw running away in all different directions. There were tons of little creatures crawling everywhere. I saw at least 4 different kinds of “bug-like” creatures. There were little ones with thousand little legs (clam worm?) crawling away from me in a hurry as I was intruding on their lives. There were bigger brown creatures that looked like snails out of their shells that were trying to blend in with the mussel. Tons of cumaceans. There were also “tentacle-like” creatures that were attached to the mussel that were constantly in motion sort of reaching for something (After looking into the field guide there on the docks my first hypothesis was that it was polydora mud worm but now I think it is skeleton shrimp).
The second sample was much bigger and contained a lot more stuff. There were mussels (big ones, smaller ones attached to it, dead ones, live ones – sign of a healthy mussel colony) different kind of seaweed (brighter green and transparent, more brownish and covered with stuff), this orange spongy stuff (Orange Sheath Tunicate?)
Method was: individual visual observations, magnifying glass, binoculars, occasional pocking with sharp pencil.
(I cannot scan my drawing so I will bring it in to class tomorrow … today actually)


P.S. I’m ready to see some whales now

No comments: