Sunday, July 24, 2011
Day 3: Exploration to Georges & Lovells Islands
Our first landing as a class was on George's Island, which before we had only seen from a boat tour on the harbor. The island turned out to be quite an interesting spot, although not particularly what today's experience was about, nevertheless a little fun never hurt anyone... We went on a group walk through a small, pitch black passage in Fort Warren, with nothing but your right hand extended against the wall and the voice of Professor Berman leading. This is of course directly after being told the tale of the Black Lady, who supposedly haunts the fort in search for her husband. Her husband was a former prisoner and after a failed attempt to rescue him, the Black Lady accidentally shot her husband and earned herself the death penalty by the gallows, as a result of the attempted escape, assault against an officer and homicide charges. Luckily the ranger was not the best at including the eerie mood of the tale and instead simply gave us the facts, so I was not fretful going into the fort, but the lack of any light source and sense of direction did not make the walk through the passage any more comfortable. I think most would agree with me when I say that the passage, which by itself really is not that long, seemed to take a long time to get through while you were debating each successive step you were taking. Anyhow, I loved the fort, I have been to it once before but did not have the guts to go into something like that before since none of my friends would join me. I think those types of tales are a great deal of fun especially with all their historical mischief and the brilliance of the fort itself is another thing in and of itself to be recognized.
The second and majority of today's expedition was to Lovell's Island. Here we walked through the sandy-dirt path with various wild plant-life surrounding us on our way to the tidal pools. On the way down this path I couldn't help but notice all the people camping (for more than a day or so it seemed) on the island as well as the abundance of Sumac trees. The camping just reminded me of the Hitchhikers Guide and how humans have such a major impact on the environment, even when it is not quite as direct a connection or obvious effect. The camping I do not think is hurting the island, in fact it's probably helping to fund the Boston Harbor cruises and maintain the funds for upkeep of the islands stable, however the ranger who spoke to us, Red, did mention that there had been rather odd behavior of terns and other animals at the island as a result of misplaced baby gulls. Though I do not know the exact reason for the gulls alteration in nesting grounds, one could say that lack of space where they used to nest is a possible source. The original nesting grounds would then have to be taken up by a different, and I would assume larger, species--such as humans during camping perhaps? You never know.. until you catch rabbits kicking over tern eggs via security cam! Haha just kidding that has nothing to do with gulls laying eggs in tern nesting grounds, but it is an intriguing event and an example of questions being answered by solid proof, very very surprising, solid proof. I tried to find the video Professor Berman mentioned was online about that exact event but I failed :( sorry everyone.
Once at the tidal pool region, Professor Berman explained what a "wrack line" was on a beach and how its contents can give clues to the environment. For example, our wrack line on the beach showed empty lady slipper shells, dried up seaweed, and many many many periwinkle shells. If nothing else, this hinted that those three specimen must be on this island. This turned out to be true as we all later discovered there were TONS of periwinkle snails in the tidal pools.
Another sea creature we found an abundance of were crabs. Not just one crab either, Asian Shore Crabs and Green Crabs--which ironically are not always green but red-ish orange and brown. The Asian Shore Crabs are much smaller than the Green Crabs and like-wise more aggressive, as we already knew from the yesterday's readings. However, it was not the behavior or size of the crabs that I am intrigued by so much as it was how many of them there were and how easy it was to find them. There were tons of crabs on the beach and all you needed to do to find them was lift a rock within the tide. In most cases they were burrowed/hiding in the sand under the rock. I caught a bunch of the little green crabs as well as a few of the asian shore crabs too I believe, although after talking to some of my peers they started to confuse me saying that the green crab was the asian crab and vice versa, but never fear the Audobon Guide is here! So I did in fact find both luckily haha.
Unfortunately, along the tidal pools the majority of my finds consisted of periwinkles, crabs, and a very bright green seaweed. However, off the tidal pool there was another specimen to be found. A land snail, found no where you would imagine, a tree! I never thought I would see snails on a tree. Literally you could have asked me to list all the locations a snail would never have suggested trees and if you told me they were there I would have thought you were pulling my leg. However, there are several land snails on the trees at Lovell's island and they are quite interesting. Not only do some of them move around a great deal and they live in trees, but their shells are also spiraled with varying stripe patterns and they are different colors--both the snails themselves and their shells. As Poh Lee mentioned they remind me of the diversity in people, especially because I feel like when you have an abundance of a species in an area you usually have the same or two to three different types of the organism at max. However, in the case of the "tree snails" you mostly find variation in the organism because their predators tend to have a favorite color of the snails. Therefore, it is only the unique snails that survive. As a result, we end up with a whole bunch of different colored snails and snail shells. I ended up taking one of these snails home today and have already created a nice little home for her (I have assumed her to be a girl even though I am fairly sure they are hermaphrodites) with some dirt, leaves, lettuce & a bit of water along with a sea shell from Lovell's island inside. Unfortunately the container she is in (which I have poked holes in no worries!) is a little small with all her necessities in it, but it will have to do for now. Her name, if anyone is interested, is Harriet, she's a champion.
All in all today was a great day, I dug up some crabs (one in particular which kept trying to pinch my fingers the gutsy little thing!) , found new organisms I didn't realize existed, swam in the harbor off George's Island and got a new pet. Haha I look forward to identifying the organisms I looked at today during class. Wish me luck!
P.S. I almost forgot I wanted to share this video with everyone. I found it on youtube when searching the tern eggs & rabbit I remembered Professor Berman mentioning the Moon Snails, so I looked them up. Here is a quick video of one that has already eaten/just finishing eating a clam. Crazy!