Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day Three - Barking Crab Observations

Today we spent walking around the waters edge of Boston Harbor and viewing plant and animal life from Long Wharf & Christopher Columbus Park all the way to the docks by the Barking Crab. We looked at the intertidal zone at the area where Long Wharf and & Christopher Columbus Park meet. This was around 10:30am on 7/31/10 and it was sunny, I noticed a difference between the amount of the two types of seaweed found there and the lesser amount found at our second stop at the basin between the Aquariun and the Harbor Towers. Maybe there was less in the Basin due the the lack of sun because the towers are so tall and shade the basin. We then all walked to the Barking Crab, split up into our groups and started to explore underneath the docks. The life I saw growning underneath the docks by the Barking Crab reminded me of a high rise apartment building in the city, only it goes from the dock down into the water. There are different floors, the various vegetation attached to one another. Within the various vegetation are smaller animals living and growing. They all seem to work together to survive. I wonder how well this small world would work if just one of these organisms was taken out of the equation?
Plant Life:
The "top" of the grouping under the docks at the Barking Crab are sea lettuce. They were green in color and smooth in texture and attached directly to them were the Blue Mussel. I got my information from
The next "level" attached but growing underneath the sea lettuce was what appeared to look like a ball of hair or sticks. It was brownish in color but not spiky although it looked that way. When this was taken out of the water and set on the dock, I waited a moment and then noticed all of the Opposum Shrimp moving and "coming out" of hiding withing the seaweed. I have been trying to find out what the name of this seaweed is but, it is not in my Audobon book and the only thing I could find on the internet that was remotely similar was the Rockweed with thin branches and pointed ends. I found it on and it did not say if it grows grouped together.
I feel like a failure with this plantlife. Either I am picking the wrong things to try and identify or I am not that good yet at finding things on the internet. Growing out of the cluster that I found underneath the docks at the Barking Crab were these long green seaweed like plants. They appeared to be attached to the other plant life as if all were living and depending on each other. See the picture above. I would really like to know what it as as it is now almost 2:00am and I still cannot find it.

I found several different kinds of animals living within the seaweed under the docks. One was a Skeleton Shrimp. It is an arthropod and some were brownish and some seemed more clear. They reminded me of several different things. Their "jerky" movements when taken out of the water reminded me of a mosquito larvae. It has a very segmented body not quite unlike an insect, only more segments.

Another animal was another arthropod as well. It was another type of shrimp but an Opposum shrimp from what I found in my Audobon book. There were so many of them living in all the types different of seaweed. I didn't notice them while the plants were under water but once I pulled them out of the water and they were on the dock in the air they started "coming out" of the seaweed rapidly.

The Blue Mussel was quite interesting as well. I noticed them attached and hanging off of the green sea lettuce. The larger, older, empty shells seemed to be the place for "baby mussels" to start to grow. They were in clusters on the larger empty shells. In one instance one of my group mates pulled out a large stick like plant eh mussels were clustered all up and down the stalk.

My next animal seemed to be some kind of a jelly like egg. (Please see photo of it all green sea lettuce above.) I have been looking up the life cycles of these animals on the internet and still can't figure out what or who it belongs too. I'm so curious that I thought I would post the picture and see if anyone else could tell me if they found out what it was.
Last but not least are the two "orange things" found under the docks at the Barking Crab. The first was a spongy like substance that was living on and among the plants. In my Audubon book I found out this is the Orange Sheath Tunicates. In contrast to the greens and browns of the plant life and animals this orange color really stood out. I thought they were a plant but they are actually a group of organisms living and working together. They are also a source of food for some larger animals in the harbor.
Last but not least, God it's late I hope I didn't forget anything! The jelly like substance that was found on some of the Blue mussel shells that looked like it had a Gerber Daisy print inside of it. This I also found in my Audubon book as an encrusting animal. It is the Golden Star Tunicate. It grows in colonies and the jelly like substance it appears to "live in" is actually a thin, rubbery crust.
Mary D

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