Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alex Beach Barking Crab Transect Observations and Analysis

Today’s class consisted of a walk around the industrialized inner harbor from Long Wharf to Four Points Channel. Low tide was at 9:20am, about an hour before we started our site visits. For reference, high tide was at 3:32pm, about the time we finished class today (tide times taken from The air temperature started at about 70 degrees and topped out in the mid seventies. It was a very bright, sunny day with a strong breeze.

Our first site was at the intersection of Long Wharf and Christopher Columbus Park. This was just after low tide and almost the entirety of the intertidal zone was visible along a small 20x20 foot cobble beach and a retaining wall of about 15 feet high. The retaining wall was covered with a blackish seaweed up to 4 or 5 feet. The seaweed looked to be growing in clusters and had a fibrous and leafy texture. Above the black seaweed was about another 3 feet of a mossy green velvety plant. From our perspective it looked like just a thin film or covering of the wall with no noticeable braches, stalks, stems, etc. The water seemed to look fairly clear. On a completely subjective scale from 1-10 where 1 is opaque and 10 is my Brita pitcher I thought that it looked to be about a 5, however there was a fairly large and noticeable oil slick on the surface. The bottom of the harbor was visible until about 30 feet off shore. I am going to estimate that the depth at this point was five feet. In the water was another green plant, but this one consisted of filaments long enough to flow in the current. It was a darker green color than the velvety substance on the wall. Small off-white barnacles covered the wall, pipe, and rocks of the intertidal zone.

The second site was between the south side of the aquarium and the Harbor Tower. There was no exposed shoreline at this site and the Harbor Tower cast a shadow that covered most of the area. There was noticeable less green velvety moss-like plant than in site one and none of the black seaweed. This is probably due to the lack of sunlight that the intertidal zone gets here because of the tower. In my opinion, however, it looked as if there was a higher concentration of barnacles on this wall than at site 1. Perhaps there was more wall space because of the lack of large black seaweed clumps. The water was deeper at this site and I could not see the bottom. Just under the pier and in the northwest corner by the wall was a small school of baitfish. They looked to be long and slender like anchovies, perhaps 3-4 inches long, with a silver sheen on their sides. A rough estimate puts their numbers at 50-75.

Site 3 was the floating docks at the Barking Crab restaurant. These docks are located in the Four Points Channel in what is called the Roxbury Connector. This site was 100-200 meters upstream from the open harbor and would therefore be a brackish environment. I forgot to taste the water for saltiness while on site and am hoping that someone else did. Especially at low tide, the water there should have been composed more of fresh water sources than seawater. At this point in the day the tide had started to rise and was about 1/3 of the way between low and high tide. Group 3 chose the second dock from the shore in a completely sun-drenched area. From the other groups we learned that the water depth was about 18 feet, the surface temperature was 74 degrees and the temperature at depth was 71 degrees (isn’t collaboration great?). The floats that the dock was resting on went to a depth of no more than one foot. In some locations chains attached certain floats to the bottom on the channel. At first glance it was obvious that there was a tremendous amount of biodiversity on such a small section of substrate. Below is a list of the organisms that we saw. This list is comprised of my original hypotheses as to the types of organisms with further analysis and identification to come later (ie I originally thought that the orange daisy shaped things were algae) :

1. Blue Muscles: the largest being 2 inches long. Dead. No meat inside. Attached directly to the floats

2. Smaller muscles: ¼ to ½ inches long. Shaper looking shells. Dark brown/blue/black in color. Attached to the Blue Muscles

3. Barnacle: white to Mother of Pearl in color, 5 sections, ½ inch across. Attached to Blue Muscle

4. Green leafy seaweed: semi translucent, long strands, 3-4 inches in width, wavy texture like that of green leaf lettuce. A bit slimy to the touch. Attached to Blue Muscles, chains, and float itself

5. Red leafy seaweed: same description as number 4 but red/brown/plum in color

6. Dark red fibrous plant: looks like very diffuse, fibrous, and high density concentration of roots. Deep red/plum in color (more so than red seaweed). Growths no more than 2 or 3 inches long. In patches. Attached to Blue Muscles mostly and a bit to the floats.

7. Brown shrimp-ish crustacean: smallest creatures visible, brown in color, no more than ¼ of an inch for the largest ones. Living amongst fibrous root-like plant

8. Black and yellow shrim-ish creatures: slightly larger than the brown ones. Black and yellow sections of their bodies, also living in the fibrous plant.

9. Crab: grey and brown in color. Very small, possibly a juvenile, living in fibrous plant

10. Long skinny shrimp: the largest individuals were about an inch long, looked like a walking stick bug, brown/orange in color, brown spots, long slender appendages, in fibrous plant

11. “bubble wrap” plant: deep green in color, growing on float and chains, a foot in length, has the shape of divergent tree trunks with finger like “leaves” as the end of each branching section. Sacs at the tips, lighter green in color than rest of the plant, ¼ to ½ inch long, they would pop with a pretty resistive snap when squeezed

12. Orange algae: growing on Blue Muscle. ¼ inch in diameter. Bright orange in color. Looks like the pedals of a daisy. Grouped in clusters

13. Orange spongey stuff: growing on Blue Muscles and float. A bit mucusy in texture. More of a pale yellow brown orange than number 12

14. Bait fish: seemed to be the same as seen at site 2

15. Smaller bait fish: golden sheen, ½ to 1 inch long

Select Attempted Identifications:

A. Long skinny shrimp: I know in class we spent considerable time trying to identify this creature but I still had my doubts. The Audubon guide book had three varieties of skeleton shrimp listed. Based on the pictures the ones we saw looked most like the Smooth Skeleton Shrimp. However, these are Pacific shrimp and can therefore be ruled out. The descriptions given of the Long Horned Skeleton Shrimp and the Linear Skeleton Shrimp seem to favor a Long Horned identification. My hesitation with this choice is a result of the size of the samples we found. As an entire class we were able to see a fairly large sample size of long shrimp like individuals. The longest ones we saw maxed out at about one inch. The guide book says that the Long Horned variety and get over 2 inches in length, whereas the Linear variety grows to ¾ of an inch. Granted individuals of a species vary in size but I would have thought that based on our sample size we would have seen one larger specimen. One of my group members suggested that perhaps the floats were a refuge for the juvenile members of the species, that they all gestated at the same time and had not fully matured yet, or the larger members of the species lived in deeper water. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica website, long horned skeleton shrimp only grow to about 1 inch long. This would be much more consistent with our observations. I am not sure why there are the conflicting descriptions of the same species. My guess is that the Audubon book, published in 1981, might be outdated. Perhaps changing ocean conditions such as warming over the past 30 years have altered the environment that long horned skeleton shrimp live in causing them to become slightly smaller than their ancestors. After browsing Google images on both species to see more examples I am feeling more comfortable deciding that this animal is indeed the Long Horned Skeleton Shrimp.

B. The barnacle we saw on the Blue Muscles was ½ inch across and looked to have 5 plates. The first barnacle listed in the guide book is the Bay Barnacle. It is described as having 4 paired plates overlapping 1 unpaired plate, ½ across, and white in color. It says that these barnacles attach to pilings, rocks, docks, and hard shelled animals in brackish estuarine waters. This description seems to describe fairly accurately the environment we were looking in.

C. All day we had been referring to the muscles found as Blue Muscles simply because they are common in these parts and Professor Burman hinted at this identification. While I would like to trust our peer-review, collaborative system I wanted to make sure for myself that we were correctly identifying these organisms and it was not another intentional misdirection from Prof Burman. According to the guide book Blue Muscles grow to 4 inches long and 2 inches thick. While we did not find any that large the ones that we did were still in that 2x1 proportion. They are Blue-black to black in color with a shiny interior, brownish foot, and have a rounded triangular shape. All of these characteristics support our working hypothesis that they were indeed Blue Muscles.

D. Well I was wrong about the orange organisms that I thought were algae. While looking through the encrusting animals section of the guide book they seem to look identical to the image of Pacific Star Tunicates. Unless the Pacific variety has greatly increased its range in the past 30 years since the guide was written that cannot be a correct identification. The guide’s description of Golden Star Tunicates fits very well but the picture was a bit off. I would like if the guidebook had multiple phenotypes pictured because between the Hitchhikers handout and Google Images it is pretty clear that what we saw were indeed Golden Star Tunicates.

E. The other orange organism we saw was nowhere to be found in the guidebook. After reading the Hitchhikers handout it became obvious why it was not listed by Audubon. This organism was a “Mystery Tunicate” and was introduced to the Boston area from the Pacific (so maybe Pacific Star Tunicates could be introduced and survive here too?). More information can be found on this great MIT page about exotic species in the area (

F. The “bubble wrap” plant we saw was not hard to identify as Rock Weed aka Bladderwrack. This plant is very common in these areas and information can be found in multiple sources including the New England Aquarium’s Educators Guide from Blackboard. This plant is more accurately a type of algae that belongs to a group of brown seaweeds.

G. The green sheet like seaweed we saw is most likely a variety of sea lettuce called Ulva lactuca ( It is a common type of algae that grows in shallow intertidal zones on rocks, shells, piers, practically any hard surface or just free floating. According to the above link from URI, sea lettuce grows especially well in areas with sewage contamination and other pollution and can be used as a good indicator of water pollution levels. The Four Points channel and Roxbury Connector can sometimes carry sewage to the docks at the Barking Crab. It would be interesting to monitor the sea lettuce populations there after large rain storms and see how they react to the introduction of more sewage.

H. The Red leafy seaweed has to be a type of brown algae. There are over 1000 species of brown algae and as of 11:30 I am unable to identify the more specific type of brown algae that the Barking Crab specimen might be. Hopefully someone else had better luck. I have also been unable to identify the deep red/purple fibrous plant specimen. Considering that plant was the habitat for numerous other species that we saw it would be interesting to know what it was. Again I turn to my peers for further insight.

Well I am dehydrated, sunburnt, and tired but enjoyed it immensely. Time for bed so I can do it again in a few hours. Goodnight.

Alex Beach


Today we walked from Long Wharf to the Barking Crab, stopping to observe the built shoreline along the way. We noticed many things, including various plant life in the and barnacles in the intertidal zone. At the Barking Crab, we found many different organisms. The creatures I describe below all come from the side and bottom of one of the finger docks outside the restaurant (fouling organisms). My group (group 2) took the temperature of the water (twice) and found that it was about 71 degrees 3 feet from the bottom. We also estimated that the water was about 18 feet and 7 inches deep. Among the organisms that we found, there were both plants and animals.


One plant that I found was brownish-greenish with many branches that ended in bulbs that burst. It was very common and covered the sides of the docks as well as the sides of the walls along the shoreline. The bulbs seemed slightly lighter than the rest of the plant. Online, I found that there are three types of brown algae that form the primary intertidal zone of northern New England. Out of the three kinds, only two had “bladders” or bulbs that burst. One sounded much more similar to what I saw today, with more bulbs and a more branchy structure. This was the Bladder wrack (fucus vesculosis). I found the description at this website: 

Another plant that group 2 encountered was a slightly wavy, bright green, thin sheet that wrinkled when dried. I determined from the website above that this plant was sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) . It is found in northern New England near the low tide mark. It is one cell thick. 


The crab we found was about 1 inch across, and light greenish-brown in color with a clearer underside. There were small dark spots on the top as well. We were also informed by professor Berman that it was female, because it had a triangle shape on its underside. The most distinctive feature of this crab is that it only had three teeth. All the crabs in the field guide that looked similar to this crab has more teeth. However, after looking at the Hitchhiker’s guide I saw that the Asian shore crab  now extends from Maine to North Carolina and likes the intertidal and subtidal zone. Most importantly, it only has three teeth! The crab in the guide looks like a more red-orange color, but it says that it varies in color so I think it is still likely that this is the crab we found. It fits in size too! The guide says they are usually about 1 inch across.

Another animal that we found, along with many other groups, was a stick-like, shrimp-like creature. I drew a picture of it, shown below along with a photo. It was very thin and looked like a stick, with one main joint and a few smaller branches coming off the end. It was pinkish in color. I was about an inch long. Looking at the various types of  shrimp in the field guide, I determined that it is most  likely a long horn skeleton shrimp. Its small for the description, which says its usually 2 inches long, but the coloring is correct, it has a large second appendage.


Another group found the "orange daisy" creature covering a mussel shell. After looking at the photograph, I believe that this growth is a Golden star tunicate: I looked at tunicates in my field guide and found that the orange daisy flowers looked like the golden star tunicate in my book, except that they were white. I read the description and found that they can be a variety of colors, including orange, and they are found on the east coast.

A common finding that we had were mussels. In reality, most mussels we found were actually empty shells, but we did find some that were alive. Many had growth on them, such as the golden star tunicates or barnacles. The ones we saw were about 3 to 5 inches tall and 3 inches wide. However, below that they ranged from light almost purple blue to an almost black color. Looking in the field guide I determined that these were blue mussels, which are about 4 inches high and 2 inches long.

Another interesting thing that my group found was what seemd like squishy balls. They were dark greenish-grayish  in color and jelly-like. We opened one by cutting it and inside found a clear, mucous-y substance surrounding what looked like a light gray spiral with a dark black inside.I also drew this and it is shown above. I would say that they ranged

from .5-2 inches in diameter. It seems likely that it could be a sea grape (molgula manhattensis). They are grayish green in color, live on pilings, and ranges from Maine to Texas, and about 1.5 inches in diameter.



Day 3 - The Barking Crab

Species we examined today:

Before leaving Long Wharf, we described two types of seaweed on the seawall. The first was a green grassy seaweed which clung to the rocks like moss when dry and drifted in the waves like grass underwater. We did not examine it up close but based on the NE Aquarium Seaside Educator's Guide descriptions this was probably Cladophora sp.

Also on the seawall was a greenish-brown seaweed which Professor Berman referred to as rockweed. Later, at the Barking Crab, we pulled up a piece of what I believe to be the same seaweed. Prominent features I noticed included a well-defined vein or rib running down the center of the leaf and air-filled bladders at some of the ends. This is certainly some type of Fucus, probably Fucus gardneri.

There was a fairly sharp line between where the green Cladophora grew on the seawall and where the rockweed grew, with the Cladophora higher. The Cladophora can probably survive with less exposure to the water than the rockweed.

At the Barking Crab, we pulled out a ribbon of red seaweed, about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. It was slimy to the touch. I think it was a piece of Irish Moss, Chondrus crispus.

There was also a wide, thin leaf of bright green seaweed which appeared to be Sea Lettuce, Ulva lactuca.

The Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) was the predominant and most easily identified animal living on the float. The clumps of mussels formed a sort of substrate on which many of the other plants and animals lived.

The first thing we noticed about the clumps of mussels we pulled off the dock, other than the terrible smell, was that they were teeming with small animals running around on them. On closer inspection many of them appeared to be small shrimp-like creatures, probably amphipods.

There were some rather curious insect-like that were attached to the mussels at one end and sort of curled or waved through the air (presumably they did the same thing in the water. The were sort of reddish-brown, and mostly under an inch long. They had segm
ented bodies and small hooked claws similar to those you would see on a mantis. This is certainly some sort of skeleton shrimp, probably the long-horn skeleton shrimp, Aeginella longicornis.

On some of the mussels there was a sort of orange gooey spongey stuff which probably was some kind of sponge, but it's difficult to identify which.

Some of the mussels were covered in orange flower-shaped colonies about a centimeter across. I also saw a piece of seaweed that appeared to be encrusted with this. The NEAQ guide indicates these are probably Golden Star Tunicate, Botryllus scholsseri.

One of the more mysterious things we found were what at first appeared to be brownish sacs, about an inch in size, containing a clear mucous with various organs embedded inside. Closer inspection of the outside showed that it was in some instances translucent, and the brown may have been algae or dirt encrusted on the outside. Several of these sacs were attached to each other, like pods on a string. Although we siphons weren't particularly evident in any of those we examined, the field guide seemed to indicate that a sea squirt or tunicate was the most likely identification, and the NEAQ guide calls them Sea Grapes (Molgula sp.), which are a type of tunicate. It seems surprising to me that these creatures would belong to the same group as the star tunicate colonies found on the mussels. Some reading shows that there is a lot of diversity within the tunicates, and even within individual species they have surprising (to me, at least) life cycles.

We caught a small crab, about an inch wide, brownish with white tips of its appendages. It looks like a shore crab from the Hitchhiker's Guide.

We caught a small fish as well, which I drew a pretty sad picture of but haven't been able to
Observations were made during a low but rising tide. Due to the nature of the location, the organisms observed live (for as long as they stay on the float) at a constant depth of up to two feet. The water was clear and the day was sunny and warm.

I first mistook Sea creature #1 for a plant- until it started moving. After I gathered my wits, I noticed that its stick-like body is highly segmented. Five similar organisms from the same cluster of mussels and seaweed ranged from half an inch to one inch in length and from beige/tan to reddish orange in color. The organism appeared to attach itself to seaweed with its hind appendages and flail its upper body outwards. The fore appendages were reminiscent of those of a praying mantis.
Hypothesis: Long-horn skeleton shrimp (Aeginella longicornis). The location fits the range specified in Audubon, and the description is consistent with the organisms I observed. One exception is size: the observed length was only half the reported length.

Sea creature #2 squirted a clear substance when I poked it. It was round with a diameter of about one inch, and three other similar organisms were the same size or slightly smaller. The outer sac was almost leathery, and difficult to cut. It was clear and/or grayish. Inside was a jelly-like substance with orange, brown and white spots that were probably organs.
Hypothesis: A sea grape. Perhaps the common sea grape (M. Manhattensis), which can live on seaweeds in bays and estuaries.

I found sea creature #3 in a spiderweb just above the water, but the presence of at least thirty similar organisms in the cluster of seaweed and mussels we found suggests that it is, in fact, a sea creature. The body was grayish (others were clear, greenish, or even spotted) and 1/4" long (others were half the size, or twice the size). It had at least 6 sets of legs, including a larger set of forelegs; the tail was wispy; and it had antennae.
Hypothesis: Red-eyed amphipod. Based on my observations, it's really impossible to determine which "shrimp, squilla, or horned krill" these were, but this could be one of them (and I'm guessing this is the first one I looked at)!

More creatures, plus plants and pictures, tomorrow.

Alissa Frame

Day 2 at the harbor

Hello Everyone,

Today was day two of our harbor tour and the first day getting a close look at the life in the water. The weather was great and the detail we saw in the water was even better. I found the information on the tides and the intertidal zone very interesting since that was not something I knew much about before. It is impressive how much you can determine from the tide and what types of plants live in it. Seeing how the tide moved and identifying which way it was moving based on the wetness of the tide wall was an obvious way to determine the behavior of some of these plant but something I had never thought to do before.

All of the activity and wildlife around the aquarium was great as well. Seeing the fish in the water and all the educational stuff they had out for kids made me want to come back with my young cousins and show them some stuff now that I am becoming more informed. The song we learned will also stick with me for a while – it was pretty catchy and stuck in my head for a while – that was a lot of fun.

Once we got to the barking crab we were able to get a closer look at the life inside the harbor. I surprised myself with my willingness to reach into the water and pull out whatever I could get my hands on – I did not expect to have the in me – I am pretty squeamish usually. Once we started to pull stuff out of the water we found that most life stuck to the sides of the dock seemed to be different types of sea weed. From the dock that I was on we saw 3 different kinds. The Green one appeared to be mostly on the top of the dock I believe it was sea lettuce. (it is interesting to me that the green was on top since the same thing occur when we looked at the first intertidal zone before our walk began, with darker plants below it just like on the dock) It was thin but some what strong and was only a bit slimy. Below that was a darker seaweed that was more of a reddish brown color – the texture of it was similar but this was a bit slimier and the pieces seemed longer than those of the sea lettuce, it was more like a ribbon effect. I believe this was ribbon weed. The final sea weed I found was also the deepest one and it had a completely different texture and look. It had many fine branches that were flexible rather than the flat leaves. I believe this was brushy red weed.

After we took all of the sea weed out of the water and placed it onto the dock we quickly realized it contained many other living things in this folds. The first thing that I noticed was the tiny shrimp looking things that came out of the sea lettuce. I believe these were the skeleton shrimp and they were about 1cm in size. After we pulled all of that out of the water I reached down and pulled what I was told later was a mussel. The larger one appears to be a ribbed mussel based on the illustrations I see in the guide book and on this shell was a few tiny mussels that looked more like the blue mussel shell that I see in the guide book. After we finished with the shells and went back into the water we pulled out a few final things; some more seaweed that contained a tiny stick like shrimp that seemed to flip over itself rather than walk or crawl on legs. It was less than one inch in length and had a tan/brown color. This seems to match closest to the amphipods – but none of the illustrations I see in the book look exactly like the one that we found so I am unsure of the exact name. Some of the other things I saw from the other groups were interesting as well, including the tiny fish and the female crab.

See you all again tomorrow,
Katie Concannon
Hello Everyone,
In our delightful excusion around the docks my group (#1!) found many interesting little creatures. On our dock we noticed several different kinds of seaweeds. It seemed to be that the more green, leafy, perhaps more delicate, species of seaweed we on the west side of the dock. The more brown, tougher and hair-like species seemed to be more previlent on the east side. Could it be that because the boat was docked on the east side, the species that can withstand more water traffic and disruption are on that side? In any case, here are some of the seaweeds we saw...
after searching images of green leafy seaweeds, I believe this species is called Sea Lettuce.

2. Another seaweed that kept showing up was a brown, bulbus, branch-like species. It seemed to grow in the sunlight, as it did not appear in the second, shady spot we stopped at. I determined it must be ROCKWEED after searching various photos of brown seaweeds of encyclopedia britanica.
3. A third type of seaweed i saw was mossy green that darkened in the air. I noticed it all over the harbor.

We also observed several animals.
1. 1.The crab we saw doesn't fit the description or picture of any crab in the guide book or hitchhiker's guide. This leads me to believe it is a juvenial crab. I am still not sure what kind of baby crab it is, but it does have a similar body shape and habitat to the Lady Crab.

2.We noticed a large (comparitivly) open and empty, blue tinted double shell. I recognized it as a mussel, and after checking the guide book I confermed it was the Blue Mussel as it had the correct size, color, and habitat. We also noticed a little colony of smaller, living mussels or clams. The smaller ones were a little lighter in color, smoother, and more rounded. When I searched the guide book, I ruled out clams as most of their habitats seemed to be in the sand. Thus I infered that they too were baby mussels. I hypothesize they are also blue mussels because blue mussels usually live in large groups, so it would make sense a few were stuck together.

3. I also observed a brown muecusy membrane growing on a piece of seaweed. It had brown spheres with little lighter centers. Tiny "legs" were holding it on to the seaweed. I am not quite sure what this is. My first reaction was it must be some sort of egg sack for something. I still think this may be true, but it could also be a kind of bryozoan, one that is not in my guide.

4. the last animal I will mention is what at first looked to be a tiny lobster it was the size of my thumb nail, reddish, with a bit of a green tint on it's back and numerous little legs. After searching the guide book I believe it's a scud. found in the right area and the only animal that fit my description.

The orangish squishy thing we all saw pictures of seems to be a golden star tunicate. It's photo matches the photo we have, alomg with where it's found.

Day 3 Identifications


I was able to most confidently hypothesize an identification for the following two species of plants (and maybe a third?):

Group 2 pulled several samples from under the dock of a large green leaf, which measured between 8inches to over a foot. It resembled a piece of lettuce, and was floating away from the dock, only attached by its stem. It was slimy to the touch, and had wavy edges. Using Peterson’s guide I was able to venture a guess that this plant is Sea Lettuce, or Ulva Lactuca, which can grow to 3ft and is native to the area. Apparently it is also edible.

The second and third species that I think I was able to identify may have been the same or two different species. We all saw the brownish-black sea weed on the wall of the Long Wharf, which was in the upper inter-tidal zone and exposed at low tide. I think I found something similar under the docks. This weed was the same color, and hung in bunches in the same way, but it was wet/alive and was not inhabiting an inter-tidal zone since it remained submerged all day. This plant, however, had small air sacks along its stalks, which I did not observe on the brown weed on the wall. Perhaps this is because I couldn’t see it, or perhaps it was a similar species that lacked the air sacks. In fact, Peterson describes several varieties of Rockweed, one has air sacks like the Fucus Vesiculosus, and others don’t like Fucus Spiralis. He notes that these two are often difficult to differentiate if the air sacks are not visible, he goes on to say: “When Spiralis and Vesiculosus occur together, the former is usually zoned at a higher level” (36). This would support the conclusion that the one high up on the wall may have been Spiralis, and lacked air sacks.


Owing to our superior field research skills, the members of Group 2 were able to catch a crab. It was fairly small, measuring only about an inch across. Thanks to a hint by professor Berman, who said he was speaking Chinese to the crab, I immediately examined the description of the Asian Shore Crab, Hemigrapsus San Guineus. Sure enough, this crab, inhabits the area, lives in intertidal and subtidal zones, has three marginal “teeth,” and can measure up to an inch wide. The coloring, with spots on the shell and bands on the legs, also resembled our crab. The easiest identifying aspect was the “teeth,” which I was able to zoom in on and view on my camera.

Another animal we examined was a tiny stick like creature, which we first thought was a baby sea horse. Upon further inspection we began to refer to it as a “water praying mantis.” It was just under an inch long and, later with the group we used the Audubon guide to identify it, we reached a consensus that it was a type of Skeleton Shrimp (Caprella). At home, when I consulted Peterson’s guide, I found that apparently the comparison to a praying mantis is common “form and behavior suggest miniature praying mantises”(229).

The first animal which was immediately recognizable to me was a mussel. Having eaten many of them, I was familiar with the general shape and size of the larger ones we found, which measured over 3 inches. Some were dead (empty) while others seemed alive (closed and heavier). They had all bunched together under the dock and were serving as a platform for other life to inhabit. Using my guides, I determined that these larger, smooth, blueish-black bivalves were in fact Blue Mussels, Mytilius Edulis. The Latin name tells us that this is the same type of mussel we eat.

Group 2’s most intriguing discovery was a group of three “blobs” these squishy spheres measured about 1 inch in diameter. They were covered in fouling growth, but parts were visible, and translucent. We immediately assumed these were some sort of egg sack for a different looking creature. We cleaned one as best we could and then sliced it open. The insides looked a lot like a slug covered in mucus. Our best guess was that this was a snail egg? Professor Berman quickly reminded us that we didn’t even know if it was an egg, how did we know the “shell” wasn’t the skin of an already developed organism. I was able to identify this creature as a part of the sea squirt family (Molgula). It was even easier to narrow down the identification, since all of the squirts identified by Peterson were much smaller than an inch in diameter, therefore, I was able to conclude that we found a Sea Grape, Molgula Manhattensis, which is often covered in “debris.”

A fifth species that we found resembled a worm. It was about 2 inches long, and had a brownish color to it. Parts of it were translucent, and we observed some reddish tint at its tail end. While trying to measure it, we accidentally chopped it in half, which actually gave us a clue to what it was, since we observed it secrete a reddish liquid. I think this may be a Blood Worm (Glycera), although I was not able to see how many fangs it has, and most Blood Worms are much longer. Could this one have been a juvenile? Or perhaps a similar species like the Chevron Worm (Goniada), which shares traits with the Blood Worm, but is much smaller, 1 3/8 inches to 2 inches.

As for the “orange daisies.” I have no idea, but my gut tells me that this is an animal species, partly because it is growing as separate organisms in a colony, like coral, and also because at first glance it reminds me of a sea anemone.

Here are pictures of the Asian Shore Crab, as well as the before and after shots of the Sea Grape. I’ve also included a drawing of a small fish we caught, which I was unable to identify.



this is my crab picture. enjoy

Too tired to be clever, day 3 - Matan Bareket

The Barking Crab.
I took some great photos today, you can find them on my Picasa album. (You can click on any picture in this post to see it in full size).

I'd like to start with the formal stuff, i'm not going to bore you with the descriptions from the book as you all have access to that, but instead I will just share my observations:

1) Sea Lettuce (Ulva latuca)

As big as 7-10", barely any stem, Air pockets are clearly seen moving inside the big and curly green leaves. very smooth and silky to the touch.
I couldn't found any information on the red variation, however it felt the same, and grew in the same way as the green, so i'll assume they're either related or the same (maybe dried up slowly by the sun) Source

2) Unidentified Brown mesh plant (or plant like animal)

Wirey brown mesh, fine and soft texture. Spotted brown dots on transparent leaves. I couldn't find information or name about this thing, I'm not sure if it's a plant or an animal.

3) Green Algae (Possibly Caldophora gracilis)

Prospers on sunny surfaces, not much to say about this plant as it was hard to observe, and sadly I missed the opportunity to touch it when taking the close up picture.

4) Striped Anemone (Haliplanella luciae) (or according to hitchhiker: Diadumene lineata)

Creature looks like a flower, White tentacles, with a brown base with red stripes. The tentacles retracts when disturbed or out of the water and feel soft to the touch, small, less than an inch in size.

5) Golden Star Tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri)

6) Orange Sheath Tunicate (Botryllus violaceus)
Similar to the Golden Star Tunicate, originated from the Pacific and not Europe. Mucus cover around it.

7) Clam Worm (Nereis virens) or possibly Pelagic Clam Worm (Nereis pelagica)
Reddish brown, specimen was 2-3", might be a young Clam worm or a small Pelagic Clam worm, multiple spiny legs, was hiding under a lot of plant life and Mussels. When moving it seems as if it's almost going inside itself and back out the other side to propel itself.

8) Unidentified Anemone (Closest match, Smooth Burrowing Anemone)
Leathery feeling tentacles with a mucusy body, White tentacles with black roots, looks similar to a porcupine in colors, retracts when touched. If this is indeed the Smooth Burrowing Anemone then it possibly moved up as it can be found from Cape Cod and south

9) Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis)
Same Mussel as found in restaurants, what's interesting to note is it's "mouth" where you can actually see something that resembles teeth, when tapped the Mussel closes (See video).

Some personal thoughts:
Please make sure you check out my album from today, it really has some amazing close up pictures of the various creatures we've seen today and others that I didn't identify like:
Sea sponge, Skeleton Shrimp, Horned Krill Shrimp, Isopod, a baby Crab, a baby Herring, and more. You can find the album here.

I personally had fun and went back to the dock to look and see if I can find more creatures. One thing I did take time to notice was the tides, if you remember when we went down to the dock the ramp was almost as angled as a playground slide, but later it was almost a straight walk down. I also learned that it's extremely hard to find Crocs or Crocs like shoes in size 10, even in the Crocs flagship store.

Plus make sure you checkout my video of the Northern Avenue Bridge closing!
(In another blog post.)
Good night!

Class #3

Today we observed both the urban coastline of Boston Harbor and got a brief glimpse of the organisms that live out of view under the harbor piers. Though we only saw the intertidal zone of Long Wharf from afar, I have a feeling that what we saw from land are related to the organisms that we found underneath the pier, and that they may be species related to each other in some way or another. Before I researched the actual identities of the different things I saw today, reading even the description of the Hitchhikers Guide made me think twice about everything I had seen. My judgment of everything I saw immediately shifted from wonder to skepticism, as I wondered if any of the creatures I had seen today were actually invasive and disturbing the existence of the indigenous creatures.

Starting with the plants we saw while standing at the Wharf, I noticed the two most obvious species to the naked eye. Both species were visible at low tide and because some lived submerged and some lived exposed to open air, they must both be able to survive a change in habitat. One species existed both in patches and large stretches, was green in color and resembled moss that you would find on a rock. In fact, some of this moss-like green substance, which I can assume is a plant because of its appearance, lived on rocks submerged in the water. I am guessing that the green plant found both in the water and on the wall are the same species because high tide would submerge the plants on the wall like the ones already in the water, but I cannot know for sure. After researching “mossy seaweed” online, the closest match I could find in appearance and habitat description is the seaweed Cladophora and is found in intertidal zones just like the one we saw. A second plant species in this same area was brownish, resembled long thin leaves, and lived along with the green plants both in the water and on the wall. Again, I am only guessing that the species in the water and above the water are the same because of the change in tide levels, but I cannot be sure. After researching “brown seaweed Massachusetts” online, the seaweed I found that most accurately matches what I saw in the water and on the wall is the Fucus gardneri, which is described as thriving both on land and in protected areas.

Moving on to the pier at the Barking Crab, I found myself looking at many green, lettuce-like leaves attached to the floats underneath the pier. They stretched the length of the pier, were close to the surface and were therefore exposed to a lot of sunlight, and dried up like a dead leaf would once on the pier for awhile. After researching lettuce-like seaweed, I found that in fact there is a seaweed called “Sea Lettuce” or Ulva lactuca. The appearance is very similar to that which I saw in the water, is observed in the Northeast, and can apparently even be used in salads.

This piece had a jelly-like brown substance on it, which I will talk about later.

Moving on to the animals I saw today, the most interesting one to me was an orange, stick-like creature that dwelled on the seaweed attached to the pier. It was about a half inch long, had 6 prong-like feelers at one and two legs in the middle. It seemed to have no backbone as it squirmed in every direction when touched. From my guidebook, looking at the picture and description of the Long-Horn Skeleton Shrimp and noting that its habitat is well within the reaches of where I found it, I believe that the creature I saw is atleast related to this Skeleton shrimp.

A second animal I saw today lived on the seaweed just as the Skeleton Shrimp did and looked to me like a tiny, grey or colorless shrimp with too many antennae for me to count. They moved very quickly, covered almost the entire surface of the seaweed, and curled up when they died. Looking at my guidebook, I thought that I may have either seen a Red-eyed amphipod, a Scud, or a Mottled Tube-maker but the description of the latter two led me to believe that neither of them were what I saw. The closest match was the Red-eyed amphipod, similar in length, color, and habitat. A third animal I saw was a large shellfish creature clinging to the seaweed under the pier. Brownish in color and covered with the small shrimp-like creature I described earlier, the shell was about one inch in width and two inches in length. I thought that there might be an animal living inside the shell that wasn’t exposed, but didn’t want to disturb it. The shape of the shell looked most like the California Mussel from my guidebook, but since the location didn’t match the location of the shell I found, I turned to the Blue Mussel instead. Matching in habitat, description, and location, I believe what I saw may have been a Blue Mussel. A fourth animal I saw was a small grey crab, with eight legs (including two pinchers) and about an inch in size. The closest match I could find in the guide book was the Flat Mud Crab which lives among oysters and in bays. Because I didn’t get the chance to look at the crab for very long, I may be way off on this one but from what I can remember and wrote down, this looks to be the closest.

Looking at the Hitchhiker’s Guide before researching the identity of the daisy-patterned creature online, I thought that the first image of Diplosoma Tunicate looked like it could be related. When I typed in the name online to find more pictures, I found a link to the government of Massachusetts’ advisory on this invasive species. I found on this site that the Diplosoma Tunicate was most likely not the same substance because it looks more porous and more like a coral-type creature than a jelly-like creature. I did find on this site though the Botryllus schlosseri which is described as a gelatinous colony with a star-like pattern and is mostly translucent. This matched part of the description of the substance we found, and the pattern in the pictures are definitely related to the pattern of what we found. I can’t be sure that this is exactly what we found, but the similarities in appearance and description of the habitat of the creature and the typical colors make me think that this is either the creature, or is something closely related. In any case, I now believe that what we found under the pier was an invasive tunicate made up of zooids. So there you have it, and from this further research I now think even more that what we saw was related to the Botryllus scholosseri. The other jelly-like creature, almost completely orange in color and just as gooey-looking, though upon closer look seems to be almost spongey. Looking in the guidebook, the closest match I can find is the Orange Sheath Turnicate. Just as the daisy-like substance is a turnicate, so is the orange substance, but I wonder if they are related?

-Lydia T

My sources: