Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Long Way to Lovells

Today, for our final field trip, we took a boat to Lovells Island in Boston Harbor. Lovells has a similar environment to Peddocks in that it is fairly secluded and we easily walked around without being disturbed by other groups, tourists, etc. While it does feature some old fort ruins, it does not have the touristy attractions that islands like Georges do and while Georges is great in its own right, being different makes Lovells pretty great too. We spent the majority of our day walking up the beach along the coast of Lovells and inspecting the natural tide pools that formed in many locations. The tide pools showcased a slightly different environment from that which we had seen so far, though they also had pieces that we had seen in previous habitats. There were some tunicates of course, though not nearly as many as we had seen in the inner harbor. Here is a picture of a tunicate on a sea squirt. Though I inspected nearly every tide pool on the beach, I came across only two sea squirts (though decidedly more tunicates).

Once we got to the cobble and rock portion of the beach, it was also apparent that it was run by the periwinkles (sea snail #1) and barnacles. They were everywhere. One of the most interesting things that I saw all day was when I went in early to grab a periwinkle and realized that it was actually a hermit crab. Not only that, but that there were also hermit crabs everywhere and of all sizes. Some of the crabs were even outside their shells and attempting to move into a bigger house. I thought I had some good pictures of this, but apparently they didn't turn out so well. Another interesting species that we had not seen a great deal of before Lovells were the slipper snails (sea snail #2) that were also not difficult to find. Some rocks even had several covering its surface as seen below . . .

It took some work prying the slipper snails off (and also keeping Professor Berman from eating them) their hosts, but this is what they looked like . . .

Thought I didn't find them, several members of the class did in fact locate several additional types of sea snails like the smooth sea snail (sea snail #3) and one possessing a lined shell that I believe may be a Channeled Tun (sea snail #4)

Similar to, but ultimately unlike the sea snails we spent so much of the day collecting, were the land snails. We first found a group of empty, yet different snail shells by a rock on our way back up the beach. We gathered together to see the brightly colored shells below . . .

Our first mission is to try to identify the particular snails and though I am still not sold on this answer, my best guess after spending a significant amount of time researching is that they are Cuban land snails (Editor's Note: this is clearly a brown lipped snail, but I was not clever enough to find it the first time. The lesson, as always, is that I'm an idiot). As we walked through the woods on the way back, we identified some more of the living versions of these interesting snails. Clearly they adhere to the local trees, so it brought up the question of how they ever got to the beach in such a tight area in the first place? I think the most likely culprit in this case are the birds that scour the island for any kind of food, be it from the tidal pools or elsewhere on the island.

All in all, it was a pretty great day on a pretty great island. Plus, we didn't even get rained on which was an unexpected bonus. Can't wait to see what the innards of a striped bass look like tomorrow.

G'night harbor enthusiasts,
-Shaun Bossio

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