Sunday, August 1, 2010

Barking Crab Observations

(Image compliments of The Barking Crab Restaurant)
We went to the Barking Crab to Observe wildlife in the Littoral zone. We observed some intertidal areas along the way to the Barking Crab.

The first Area we stopped at was the area right down by the ferry boats by the Marriott Long Warf Hotel. We looked at this area at around 10:30am. On a scale of 1-10 from clear to murky, the water was around a 3. There was oil on the surface of the water. This can most easily be from the high boating traffic in the immediate area. The water also had a dusty surface to it, which I believe to be pollen that has fallen on the surface of the water. According to there was a pollen count of 4.4 which seems to be a good indication that the dust was probubly from this. This first area was observed from an above distance view. We were not able to have a closer view due to the area's inaccessabilty to safe close observation.
There were three main wildlife found at this first area:
We observed there to be these white rough patches. With further investigation, I believe these white patches to be barnacles. Due to the distance of observation, I was not able to decipher which type of barnacle it was, but, given the area, I believe the barnacles to be Northern Rock barnacle because these barnacles are the most common intertidal barnacle in New England.

We also observed green fuzzy-like patches on the walls of the area out of the water. In the water, there was a green grass-like plant waving in the tides. Given that the color of both dry and wet plants was the same color, I have come to the conclusion that they are the same plant. This plant i have determined to be called seaweed. Green seaweed is found in the shallowest zones on the shore and is in the Chlorophyta phylum of the Plantae kingdom. This particular seaweed observed because we were at a distance, I was not able to identify the particular species of green seaweed we observed at this site but later at the Barking Crab, I was able to get a closer look which I will talk about later in this post.

The other thing we observed at this same first area was a brownish branch-like plant. After observation and some research I have determined that these branch-like plants are also seaweed but a different type of seaweed. They belong ot the Phaeophyta phylum. They are common in the intertidal zone of Northern New England. They are dark brown and slippery when wet. Since we were observing from a distance I was also not able to identify the species of brown seaweed. (Some information I gathered about these two seaweeds was found from A field guide to economically important seaweeds of northern New England .)

We moved on to a second area before getting to the Barking Crab. This area was located between the Aquarium and Harbor Tower. We briefly observed the area at around 11:00am.

At this area we observed the same three plants as the first area but at this area there was much less green and brown seaweed and a lot of barnacles. Given that this area was inbetween two very large buildings and the area does not get much sunlight, I believe this is the reason why we do not see as much seaweed as previously. The seaweed needs sunlight to live. We also saw schools of small shiny fish in the water which I was not able to identify at this sight but later in my observations at the Barking Crab was able to assess similar fish which I believe could be the same as the fish observed at this sight.

After this brief observation we moved on to the Barking Crab. Along the way we had the opportunity to run into a staff member from NOAA, which is the National Oceanic and Atmosperic Administration. He was taking measurements to see that the machine which makes tide predictions and measures the tide was still accurately doing what it was supposed to do.

After this brief interaction we continued on to the Barking Crab, our third and final area for the day. We observed the wildlife in the littoral zone starting at around 11:37am. The area was a floating dock in the harbor right next to the Barking Crab. Where I took observations was in the corner of the end of the left dock that was still in the sunlight. At this area we were able to get much closer to the wildlife and plantlife.

Here is what I saw and what I believe it to be:

One thing I saw was a green, slimy leaf-like plant. It was kind-of see-through and attached to the dock in a way that it could wave in the water with the currents. I believe this lettuce-like slimy thing to be something known commonly as sea lettuce. Sea Lettuce, also known as Ulva Lactuca, is a green algae that is both a marine and freshwater algae. They are green because of the chlorophyll that the seaweed contains. These are New England Atlantic seaweed. It is very hard to distinguish between different species of sea lettuce and according to Michael Guiry's seaweed website, there is still a large debate as to the different species status. Below is an image I found of the seaweed and a quick sketch I drew on-site.
( Image compliments of the Blue Ocean Society from
(sketch on-site)

The next thing I observed were little centipedian creatures. They seemed to have an exoskeleton curl up when they are out of water unless they are trying to scurry to safety, water. I seemed to have seen several of these creatures which were very similar in their body structures but different colors. After looking in the Audubon guide book I have determined these creatures to be the sharp-tailed isopod. The guide book says that these creatures grow to 1/2" long and 1/8" wide. The creatures I observed were a little smaller than this which means they are not fully grown. These sharp-tailed isopods come in a great variety of colors including both solid and mottled brown, gray and greenish, which are the colors that I observed. This species is said to be located from the Golf of St. Lawrence to Cape Cod, which is the area we are in.

Another thing I observed was a little shiny fish. This fish did not have any stripes and it was long and thin. With this description I have determined that this is a baby herring fish. Herring are bait fish. They are found in shallow temperate waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. The Atlantic herring, also known as Clupea harengus , is one of the most abundent species of fish on the planet. (Information gathered from wikipedia and the NOAA).

Another thing I observed which was attached to the sponge-like surface on the dock. It had a body which was very stick-like and it moved out into the water in a motion similar to a digging construction vehicle. From the Audubon guide book, I have determined this long-horn skeleton shrimp. These shrimp are 2 1/8" long and 1/16" wide. They are decribed as being "long, slender, arched and jointed". They can be tannish, reddish or almost colorless. The shrimp I saw was tannish. It lives on seaweed, hydroids and sponges. The shrimp can be found from Labrador to North Carolina. One thing I found interesting is that it is the largest skeleton shrimp in American Atlantic waters.

I also saw these shells attached to the dock. They were black with a little bit of blue on them and the shell was kind-of triangular. From the Audubon guide book I have determined these to be blue mussels, also known as mytilus edulis. Their shells are described as long, rounded triangles that are blue-black to black. They are 4" long and 2" high. The ones that I saw were not this large yet but I saw various sizes which makes me believe that they are still maturing. Blue Mussels can be found from the Artic to South Carolina. They usually occur in dense masses, which explains why I saw a lot of them attached to the dock.

The last thing that I observed was this wierd orange and red flower-looking thing. It had a glossy covering with a harder underneath. It had a dark outer shading with trails that lead to the center where there is also darker. The dark part was a redish color while the light part was orangey. After looking at the Hitchhikers guide to exotic animals, I believe these flower-like things to be a type of Ascidian known as a Star Tunicate, also know as Botryllus schlosseri. It is an invasive species from Europe. It can be found primarily in subtidal areas and it grows on rocks, docks pilings and ships. (Information also gathered from Guide to Marine Invaders in the Golf of Maine). The colors vary from green, violet, blue-black, brown and yellow.

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