Sunday, August 1, 2010

Observations from Lovell's Island

Hi Everyone,

Today was our first day getting out to the islands and in doing so we got a look at completely different bio-diverse environment and had all day to explore it. We got right into the tide pools and started to explore. Today I did a lot of things I have not done before - well touched a lot of things I never thought I would. There was so much life in the tide pools and because the environment was so different from the docks at the barking crab the life inside was too. The environment at the barking crab was brackish water and in an urban area - and the tide pools on the island were salt water and more open to the environment with less pollution and people around them.

We went to Lovell's island to do our exploration, although we did also stop at Georges island and Spectacle island just to switch boats and try out Summer Shack (which was also excellent). Lovell's island was beautiful & I cant wait to go back. It was previously used for military purposes and you could see remnants of old buildings and roads, although there are no cars or or buildings in use now. When we got to the beach it was strange to me to see a combination of rocks sea shells and and brick and pavement in the sand - definitely unique.

There were 3 main tide pools that were available to us when we got there. The tide was out and we had plenty of time to spend searching for life in the water. Each tide pool had some unique qualities, as the tide was moving in the pools closest to the beach had the warmest water since they were sitting in the sun longest. The ocean water that was flowing into the outer tide pools made them a bit cooler. The plant life in each of the pools seemed similar except for grass that was growing in only one of them.

Sea Squirt - Squirting

The first things we saw were the crabs - they were moving quickly and large enough to see from a good distance so they were the first thing to catch my eye. There were 3 types of crab that I believe I saw today: asian shore crabs , rock crabs, hermit crabs (I think it was the acadian hermit crab to be exact). We also saw a lot of other plant and animal life: periwinkles , sea squirts - which I found so interesting since they actually squirt water when lifted out of the water, mussels, clams, sea urchin shells, lobster, and tunicate - grey and orange in different areas, this had a hard shell and based on what I learned today contains a jelly substance on the inside, and I found a sea urchin shell but there was nothing alive in it anymore - the shell was very intricate, green and bumpy & it was very delicate and thin.

The periwinkles and crabs were the most common and the sea urchin was the least common since I only saw shells.


After we took everything from the water we broke for lunch and continued our discussion of snails. The periwinkles located throughout the water are a form of sea snail, but as we spread out for lunch someone discovered that there were also land snails on the edges of the beach area toward the trees. These snails seemed completely different to me in so many ways but in order to really find the ways they are different. My theory on how a group of these shells arrived on the rock at the beach is that some other predator - maybe a bird eat the snails and left the shells there on the beach. I did my research at home on how the snails were different and I asked some more science savvy friends of mine as well. The consensus was that the major difference is how they breathe. The appearance of the snails was also different - the land snail come further out of its shell and had longer antenna on its head. They also were more firm than the sea snails but the major difference was the breathing sea snails can breathe in the water and the land snails breathe in the air.
I have identified the land snails I saw as the white lipped snail also referred to as the helix albolabris as it is called in the Land Snails of New England document on the blackboard.

Then we were also asked the question of why some shells have a perfect circular hole in them. In the past I have seen these at the beach and the first time I saw them I thought that maybe there where shells people were making necklaces with that they threw back - obviously not the case - so this challenge was very interesting to me. The wholes are created from predators that are hunting the animals inside the shells. In Massachusetts this is most likely whelks.

See you all on Wednesday for some more exploration!
Katie Concannon

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