Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lovell's Island

Hello All,
Lovell's was quite a different ball game compared to our adventure on the piers. Despite the ferry, rangers, and paved path, it felt like a much more natural environment than the docks by the harbor. The Island seemed to have a more diverse species of plant and animals. In the tide-pools I encountered, I believe, all the specimens from the docks, plus a whole bunch more. When we arrived on at Lovell's, the tide was at it's lowest. There were three large tide-pools separated by seemingly natural piles of jutting rock. The bottom was rocky, or cobbled, and was difficult to walk on (I would know, I was barefoot!) Closer to shore, the bottom was riddled with periwinkles, gradually as we walked deeper, barnacles became more and more prevalent. The barnacles seem to be Northern Rock Barnacles, the part where the guide book says, "The sharp edges of it's plates pose a hazard to any bare skin that touches them"really matches the species we saw. It is interesting to note that past the tide-pools/ the jutting rocks the barnacles became much sharper. I think this is because they were open. This could be because they are further submerged out there and therefore will open to feed. However it could also have to do with the water being much colder out there. Besides barnacles, the bottom was strewn with various other types of shells. In fact, you could barely see the bottom. As in the harbor, Blue Mussels were everywhere, live ones and empty shells. The live ones lines the rock structures dividing the tide-pools. Many other creatures were attached to Blue Mussel Shells. I saw evidence/empty shells of The Common Razor Clam, and unidentifiable sea urchins (maybe The Green Sea Urchin?) I noticed numerous empty shells of Common Slipper Shells, as well as live ones piled on top of one another, mostly attached to rocks or mussel shells. I also saw, what I think to be Northern Moon Snail, or The Spotted Moon Snail. It was a slightly larger, more conic version of the periwinkles, and unlike the periwinkles, did not seem to live in groups/ colonies. I saw more sea squirts than I ever had before. They seemed to grow both singularly and in groups. They were very fun to prod and play with. I am not sure of the exact species of sea squirt. The closest I can come in the guide book to the look and feel is the Club Tunicate, but seeing as they only grow in California, it probably isn't that. Covering the sea squirts and other surfaces was our old friend the Golden Star Tunicate. I also saw one example of a rubbery, white tunicate smothering a colony of sea squirts. I suspect it is The Northern White Crust. A final species to note was the crab whose shells we kept finding. The shells were much larger than the Asian Green Crab, and had a light red color. I think it is the Atlantic Rock Crab. We noticed that the "torso" of the crab shells were more common inside the tidal-pools, and the limbs and pincers were more common just outside the rock structure in the open water. I didn't see any live Atlantic Rock Crabs, which leaves me to believe they are either a) very good at hiding b) need to be in deeper water, so go out with the tide or c) are carried in my birds who eat them.

As for the snails.. I believe the land snails were brown-lipped grove snails. The ones we observed either had yellow or brown stripped shells, which were surprisingly light, and either lighter or darker "skin." They had 4 antennae, and were very friendly and curious. They seemed more abundant on the leafy vines growing on the smoother trees, which were closer to the water. It is unclear if the snails liked the trees because of their proximity to the water, or because of that particular species of tree. The periwinkles were quite different from the grove snails. I believe they were, specifically, The Common Periwinkle, because the guide book identifies them to be "by far" the most common periwinkle in New England- this accounts for the huge groups we saw them in, the book also mentions their culinary uses- a topic we most certainly covered. The biggest difference between the periwinkles and the grove snails was that the grove snails didn't seem to be in groups, although their were occasionally several in one tree. On the other hand, the periwinkles were literally on top of one another. There were so many of them, they began to blend into the rock. Other differences were that Periwinkles had 2 antennae, and unlike the grove snails, it was difficult to coax the periwinkles out of their shells, although this may have less to do with temperament and more with the fact that they are water creatures. I don't see much of a relationship between the two species, as their habitats are very different (according to wikipedia and the guide book) As to why those five snail shells showed up at the edge of the beach is a mystery to me? I cannot find any information on the grove snails relationship with the ocean, they originate from Eastern Europe- not exactly close to the beach- so I don't think they commonly gather by the beach. This leaves me to believe they were either exploring or like our friends the Atlantic Rock Crab, were caught and eaten by a sea gull.

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