Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 2

Today's lesson proved to be yet another enlightening experience for me as we investigated some of the marine life in the intertidal zone on the waterfront of Boston Harbor. Our day started around 8 AM as we embarked down a cloudy, overcast coast of the Harbor. After a brief thundershower, the group began its journey to the Barking Crab to do some field research on the sea life there.

On our walk there Bruce provided a brief history of some of the landmarks we were passing, including a bridge that was developed by MIT students years back that we later got to see in action. During this walk Professor Berman also provided us with information about the tides and how to conduct field study. We stopped at a few places to examine the sea wall while the tide was still coming in. A few people noted that there appeared to be different kinds of algae and plant life the closer to the "open ocean". Some of the different sea plants looked like a brownish colored bush with little air bubbles attached to branch like pieces of the plant. There was also a much smoother greenish plant that was attached to a lot of the rocks at the second place that the group stopped that was closer to the open ocean. In both places there appeared to be an abundance of white dots which were speculated to be barnacles.

As we crossed over the MIT bridge and over to the Barking Crab, we split up into our groups and began our research in the field. This was definitely the most enriching part of the day as we began to take a hands on approach at learning about the lifeforms of urban Boston Harbor. To my surprise there seemed to be a great amount of life hanging out under the docks. The first thing I noticed were the blackish blue shells that our group identified as some species of muscle at the time. On the muscles appeared to be some sort of orange rusty looking fungus that we later took off and determined that it had a "spongy" texture.

As our group took a closer look at the muscles we noticed that there were some critters moving on the top. At first, they appeared to look like some sort of insect that one might find on land, however, as we brought the shells out of the water we quickly noticed that there were hundreds of these critters on a few shells alone. They had multiple joints, two antennae, a roundish head and a reddish color to them. (After Bruce allowed us to take advantage of the field guides we had brought a long we determined that these critters were a species of shrimp, one of 2 or 3 that we saw while we were there). While observing the life alongside the dock, I began to notice very strange looking plants that seemed to be bushy with whitish tips on the ends. Our group later discovered some other plants that looked the same way, but were completely white. After flipping through the pages of our field guides myself and some of the members agreed that these plants must be species of sea anemone (Could be striped as well as lined according to the blackboard site) which I quickly found out were not plants, but animals.

Now that I am home I have finally checked out the blackboard site and the Hitchhikers section. I noticed that a lot of the creatures that live in the harbor are actually from different areas around the world including; Japan, Nova Scotia, and other parts of Asia.

Today proved to be another extremely educational and interesting class around the Harbor. The hands on field work really helps gain a profound understanding of the life surrounding us in the Harbor. I am excited to see you all tomorrow for our trip around the islands.

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