Sunday, July 24, 2011

At the docks behind the barking crab:

We put our hands in the water and tear out clumps of life; a mess of ciliated flora and Blue Mussels. As we lay the clumps on the docks they dislodge from themselves some of the tangle of tiny intertwined animals. The most prominent were the Skeleton Shrimp, so well hidden to begin with before they start moving in their spasmodic way in all directions. They continue to dance their weird dance even in my hand, to which they seem to attach themselves with their hind legs (I though I counted 5 such hind legs.) The other moving living things that I manged to actually see for myself were more shrimp-looking shrimps; by that I mean that they were curved and had the trademark shrimp look- tiny versions of what I usually eat. However, tiny they were, and I am pretty sure I collapsed several different kinds under the general heading of shrimp. Hopefully after a couple of rounds with the pictures we took I could come to a more conclusive identification...
The thicket of weed is swarming with these weirdly moving animals. The other extreme (to my mammal bias) to this hyper-ambulatoriness was the cluster of sedentary life around the blue mussels. The mussels themselves cluster, and one can see on the fully grown (i.e., bigger...) mussels what seems to be younger, developing mussels. These clusters are strewn with an orange colored animal, seemingly shapeless and without definition. These animals (perhaps the Orange Sheath Tunicate) appear to be part in maintaining the structural integrity of the clusters. Also, as part of this blocks of flora and mussels, there were a couple of sedentary, bulbous creatures, squishy to the touch, as if full of liquid. Of the ones we saw one had a translucent whitish complexion and the other a pinkish one. They looked to be closest in their shape to the Blood Drop Tunicate, though I am not entirely sure. In any case, they belong to the family of Sea Squirts.
Finally, the most extravagant of the sedentary animals, also a part of the clumps, yet still standing out due to its pattern is the Golden Star Tunicate with its eponymous ornamentation. It is possible that what we saw underwater, looking like orange weeds, were colonies of these animals, but I cannot be sure. Another thing to which I could not find an answer is the identity of the conical orange creatures Prof. Berman brought to our attention.
This is then the little that I managed to observe for myself and see from up close. It is definitely a start, with all the cluelessness implied in that. Here's to learrning curves! 
See you'll, well, in about an hour or so.

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