Saturday, July 31, 2010

Animal Observations: The Barking Crab

Hi Everyone,

Here are my observations for the animals we looked at today in the harbor:

1. One marine creature I observed was circular and was soft to the touch with a jelly like feeling. It about as long as the size of my thumb and was orange in color. I also noticed “daisy” like patterns all over our marine discovery. Our group discovered it along the dock next to the barking crab in the late morning. Before doing any research I had no clue what the sample would be identified as. After researching I have come to the conclusion that what I found is called Tunicate, Golden star (Botryllus Schlosseri).

The source I used was The Marine Invasive Species Identification Guide. The guide defined the “ Golden Star” as a “Colonial tunicate: colonies organized into star- or flower-shaped patterns, beginning as soft, flat patches, maturing to loose, blob-like rolls and lobes. “ This description matched what I saw when observing the marine organism. Further, the description the guide gave about size, color, habitat matched my drawing and description. The guide said, “ Forms flat, irregular sheets 3-4 mm thick and up to 10 cm across (size)…Orange, yellow, red, white, gray-green, purple, dark gray or black, or combinations of these colors (color)...Docks, boat hulls, buoys, ropes, pilings, the underside of rocks, on mussels, solitary sea squirts, seaweeds and eelgrass (habitat)..” .

2. Another slice of marine life I observed was a mussel. Growing up on the coast for all of my life, I was familiar enough with species to identify it broadly. The question was what type of mussel was it? The mussel was attached to some sort of sea grass and was blue and slick. After my research I have come to a conclusion that what I saw is the Gallo Mussel(Mytilus galloprovincialis). The habitat of this type of mussel is , “…rocky shorelines with high wave energy and water flow; also found in protected bays, in both marine and estuarine habitats. Will utilize artificial such as pilings and docks.” This type of mussel also is found in intertidal zones, which our sample was taken from. I got my information from the Marine Invasive Species Identification Guide.

3. Another marine animal I noticed was a little bug-like creature that my group discovered within different kinds of seaweed. It looked brown”ish” and was very small. It moved fast within the different layers of seaweed it was living in. After doing research I think that I identified the scale worm. Scale worms dwell in intertidal zones and rocky shores.

4. While in the Boston Harbor this afternoon, I observed what I think was a skeleton shrimp. Our group found the shrimp off the dock of the Barking Crab. The marine critter was pinkish and clear in color. It had a long, clear, skeleton like body and skinny legs protruding from it. After looking up different species of shrimp I came across the description of the skeleton shrimp and I think I have solved the mystery. The skeleton shrimp is defined as being, “ usually transparent, but can sometimes be tan, brownish or reddish in color. They have free front legs that are folded together, much like a praying mantis's. They also have hooked; grasping rear legs and can grow to about one-half of an inch to 2 inches long. “ Skeleton shrimp are also known for living in intertidal zones and usually attach themselves to rocks, docks, buoys and various other things. I researched my information on the Chesapeake Bay Associations website.

- Hilary Katulak

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