Sunday, July 24, 2011

A unique experience

During my growing up years, my parents always taught me not to touch or even put any unidentified items into my mouth. It could be dirty, or worse, poisonous, they would explain. However, today on Lovells Island, I got naughty and touched any possible marine animals and plants that I could find at the tide pool without knowing what they were (or what I was getting into) in the first place. I was particularly intrigued by Prof Berman who picked up a shell that was attached onto a rock and before you knew it, he put the 'meat' of the shell into his mouth, without even rinsing it with water!

Today's task was to find at least 3 plant and 6 animal species on the island individually. Everyone was turning over the rocks, bending over to look underneath some big rocks, and getting into the water to look for more species. I was amazed that there could be so many crabs hiding under the rocks; it's a kind of hidden place which I would never think of as a habitat. Well, I must confess that I am a great fan of deep fried soft shell crab, a common dish served in restaurants in Asia. But today, I got to touch the shedded shell of a crab, and I broke it (oops!). It was a weird kind of feeling, as though I had killed a live animal, because the shell was still in its intact form. Despite this guilt that overwhelmed me, I knew that I would not stop eating my favorite dish. Anyway, man is at the top of the food chain, isn't it?

Besides crabs, I found mostly shell animals such as periwinkles and blue mussels at the tide pool. There are also more barnacles (bigger too) found here on the island than at the Harbor. On our way back to the dock, Prof Berman gave more insights about land snails and he said that we should not be deceived by the different colors of two snails that could actually be of the same species. Just like human beings, we are of different races and genders, but we are all humans. This woke me up to another knowledge about species identification, that while preliminary observations are important, to be really precise about what it is, thorough research should be done. But before I can do the latter, let me first sharpen my observation skill. I still have 3 more 'training sessions' for this.

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