Saturday, July 23, 2011

Barking Crab Etc.

Today we fell into a few different weather conditions beginning with a hazy cloudy morning beginning at around 8am to a 9 o’clock thunder and lightening storm then to sunny and clear with temperatures ranging for wonderfully cool during the storm to hot while conducting observations on the barking crab docks.

According to Bruce the tide was on its way out once we began our observations of the wharf habitats.
Initially the area was relatively shallow against the rock wall holding up the pedestrian walkway. There were medium size rocks emerging from the water on which were a rusty brown colored vegetation with air pockets holding them up when in the water although there were masses of them damp against the exposed inter-tidal zone. Also on this site were a thin slimy looking layer of a brighter green algae was growing in parts on the rock wall itself also on the wooden pilings rising out of the water. There were also white specks that at closer look will likely be barnacles but we couldn't be sure.

We crossed through the Mariott and observed the wharf on the opposite side. This water appeared deeper and the only wildlife that we could observe from our vantage point was the filmy slimy layer of bright green “stuff” on the rock wall as well as the white specs.

We then moved onto the docks below the Barking Crab. This area had shelter from the sun by a bridge. Our group (the Boston Whalers) chose to go along a dock that was in this shady part. At first glance it looked like there were mussels and some sort of hairy vegetation growing on it. The water had only a few feet of visibility and there were glimpses of a dark darting fish (and apparently a silvery one caught by Bruce). Walking down the docks the sides were covered with “stuff” mostly dark and black with brown and green tint to the water there were sporadic splotches of bright orange but scattered around.

The docks were plastic and metal with wood on top. There were also wooden pilings along the parking lot.

When I bent down closer I noticed the hairy vegetation were actually moving with purpose attaching themselves with a long thin segmented body like the leg of a spider using anchor legs and moving in an abrupt and angular way out into the water as if collecting something and bringing it in. There were also tiny tiny shrimp looking creatures that were slightly transparent and had dark lines along the back (the carapace I think its called??). These animals were walking freely along the clumps of mussels and spider-leg things. We also started to notice some jelly like mounds that had hairs coming out of it, I brought a mussel up with one on it and when it retracted it had dark thick bands going vertical and a thin red stripe every millimeter or so depending on the size of the base. The tentacles were totally clear and seemed to have a slightly frosted tip. Further into a corner of intersecting docks were larger anemones with a darker orange reddish base and clear stalks fanning out of it.
We also pulled something up that I said looked like a cucumber and when we referred to the Audubon guide book told us that the creature is a tunicate and originated from Japan! It attached to the base of ships traveling all the way here.

Actually, after looking at the Hitchhikers guide on Blackboard the majority of seemingly common creatures in our harbor are actually immigrants from other habitats all over the world. The periwinkle could have even come as our first European settlers were making there way here.

Walking back up the dock as we were leaving I observed leafy thin bright green seaweed that looked like a wilted leaf of lettuce. There were also thicker leathery ribbon like seaweed that were darker brown.
Using the three guides we were given we concluded after obervations that we saw possibly all that Jaimee listed under our group post. Some of the ideas we agreed could be younger versions of another observed species like the ghost anemone (often confused with a young frilled one) and the guidebooks seemed to offer different names for things (maybe the Latin name vs. common one?).

It actually felt really overwhelming to take notes and make drawings because I was afraid I wouldn't get it all down and I would forget a lot of it. I was also afraid I would miss things and copy them down incorrectly. It almost feels like you could write a whole novel on a simple square foot of habitat....
Till tomorrow,

No comments: